‘Reading Nation’ auction generates Dh41m: 4m books for refugee children

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, attended the charity auction. (Al Bayan)

The charity auction for the Reading Nation Ramadan campaign, held at Madinat Jumeirah, has generated sufficient funds from the sale of valuable items put under the hammer to provide four million books to refugee children across the world and help establish over 2,000 school libraries.

The auction’s sales have amounted to more than Dh41 million in total.

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, attended the charity auction that was organised by Emirates Auction to support the campaign.

The charity auction recorded a sell-out of all valuable items, achieving total sales of Dh41 million.

The auction has helped the campaign to exceed the original target of donating 5 million books, and has now reached a donation of 7.3 million books.

The 106-year-old piece of the Kaaba’s Kiswa donated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was sold for Dh2.1 million.

The historic artefact is a precious green-colored piece woven with gold and silver threads and gifted by Khedive of Egypt, Isma’il Pasha, to the Kaaba in the year 1331 Hijri. It belonged to the special official collection of Sheikh Mohammed.

A calligraphy painting of a poem signed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid generated Dh1.1 million.

The auction also included two paintings by celebrated Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais, whose work is representative of the nation’s art scene, sold at Dh970,000.

In addition, a painting by Dr Najat Makki, winner of the 2007 Emirates Appreciation Award for Arts was sold for Dh150,000.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, Secretary General, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, said: "The support extended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to this charitable auction clearly reflects his personal involvement in every aspect of developing reading initiatives in Arab and Muslim countries.

“It also reiterates his keenness in launching knowledge initiatives to promote learning, spread a spirit of tolerance, and eliminate ignorance."

He added: "Providing five million books will definitely step up the knowledge capital in the Arab and Islamic world and send a message of love and generosity from the UAE and its leadership to the world at large.

"The UAE Year of Reading will become a year of reading for the entire Arab world thanks to the constant support from our leadership and the generous gifts from the philanthropic people of the UAE towards meeting the knowledge requirements of millions of underprivileged children." 

Al Gergawi pointed out: "In cooperation with the Emirates Red Crescent and international organisations, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and its subsidiary entities will soon begin to study the need for books in all Arab countries and in refugee camps in order to distribute the seven million books collected through this campaign.

“We will make sure that the books achieve their maximum impact and focus on supplying school books that can change children’s lives and provide them with much-needed learning resources."

He added: "Today, we have exceeded our target by securing the funds needed to provide five million books to those who need them - four days ahead of the campaign’s deadline.

“The auction has exceeded all expectations in terms of response from the Emirati society and people of the UAE. “These donations will help us achieve a noble humanitarian mission that benefits people across the globe."

Some of the precious items sold at the auction included a calligraphy panel and a manuscript edition of the Holy Quran dating back to the 19th century that belonged to the special collection of Mohammed Al Murr, Former Speaker of the Federal National Council.

The calligraphy panel, a depiction of Surat Al Qadr (The Power), was sold for Dh110,000.

Embroidered with golden threads, it was scripted in Khatt Muhaqqaq (one of Arabic calligraphy’s finer writing styles) by calligrapher Usama Al Hamzawi.

The copy of the Holy Quran, on the other hand, was sold for Dh250,000.

It is an Indian-Mogul manuscript consisting of 520 pages and dating back to 1227 Hijri.

Furthermore, the historic edition of the Holy Quran, donated by Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, received great interest from participants and was sold for Dh250,000 million.

A unique work of art written in the Khatt an-Nasakh (one of Arabic calligraphy’s most beautiful writing styles), the edition was scripted by Arabic calligrapher Ibn Bir Mohammed Muqeem Bir in 1093 Hijri in black ink. The red color has been used to define the Tajweed signs.

The first two pages of this Quran are embroidered with gold and azure threads, while its verses are separated using small gold-coloured delineations.

The titles of each chapter as well as the Ajza’a and Ahzaab are also written in gold, with internal and external frames used to border each page.

The pages of this masterpiece are carefully crafted with silk and linen, and are sprinkled with gold indicating that this copy of the Holy Quran was made for a notable person.

The outer covers are leather-bound and embroidered on both sides with floral designs. 

The auction complemented the efforts of the Reading Nation Ramadan campaign that is aiming to provide five million books to children in refugee camps and underprivileged students in schools across the world through granting two million books to refugee children and a further two million books to establish more than 2,000 school libraries around the world. In addition, the campaign is also mandated to support the educational programs implemented by the UAE’s humanitarian organisations worldwide - with one million books.