Khalifa declares 2016 'Reading Year'

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

- Cabinet gives directions for national reading strategy, under chairmanship of Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi

On the directive of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Cabinet has approved the declaration of 2016 as ‘Reading Year.’

The cabinet has issued directives to start preparing an integrated national literacy strategy and a framework to produce a reading generation and establish the UAE as the capital of content, culture and knowledge.

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan thanked all entities, authorities, departments and individuals in the UAE for their effective participation in making 2015 a huge success as ‘Innovation Year’, and stressed that the UAE has embarked on the path of innovation.

"The wheel of innovation has begun to spin and we will reap its fruits in the near future," he said.

 Sheikh Khalifa declared the directive to make 2016 ‘Reading Year’ because reading is a fundamental skill required for building a generation of scientists, thinkers, researchers and innovators.

He added that establishing an economy based on knowledge, and changing the course of development to be based on science and innovation and achieving sustainable prosperity in the UAE will be achieved not by habitually importing expertise from abroad but by sowing the seeds of expertise at home and nurturing them.

The President said, "Reading opens minds, promotes tolerance, openness and communication, and prepares an educated, informed and open-minded people, veering them away from extremism and impenetrability. Our goal is to establish the UAE as a world cultural capital with distinction."

 Sheikh Khalifa added, "The key to prosperity will always be knowledge and the key to knowledge will always be reading. The first message from God to Earth will always be ‘Iqra’, or ‘Read’."

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, gave directions to start implementing UAE President’s directives by preparing an integrated national literacy framework and establish the UAE as a capital of content, culture and knowledge.

Sheikh Mohammed said, "Literacy can build nations. We can celebrate literacy with fairs, cultural festivals, writers’ and poets’ awards as well as initiatives to promote and encourage reading in Arabic. We can build the UAE as a capital of culture, reading, knowledge and content."

He noted that the UAE has set a goal to develop a scientific, entrepreneurial and innovation culture in the nation and reading has a key role to play in this development of new generations of scientists, researchers and knowledge workers in the UAE.

"Scientists, thinkers, researchers and innovators do not come down from the sky; rather they erect their high stature from the ground up, where the most powerful soil that nurtures them is their love for reading and a passion for gaining knowledge and adding to our knowledge," Sheikh Mohammed commented.

"Our current generation suffers from lack of reading and knowledge, which is a  crisis, and we are not flattering ourselves when it comes to developing this generation. The government is committed to help produce a generation of readers who are well informed linguistically, culturally and intellectually," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"Reading makes minds more civilised and souls more tolerant, elevates thought and expand perception. A reading employee is better than one who does not. A student who reads largely excels over a student who does not; an educated and well-informed society is an immunised and advanced society that keeps pace with the surrounding world."

“We want to promote reading to each and every household and family, child and youngster, ministry, institution, authority or private company, and of course to schools, universities, malls and transportation means, and we want it to be in all languages and for all nationalities."

Sheikh Mohammed called for the formation of a supreme committee to supervise various activities to mark the ‘Reading Year.’

Members of the committee will include relevant government entities such as the Ministry of Culture and Community Development and the Ministry of Education, the Emirates Writers’ Union among others.

It will also include key figures from various national spheres of culture and innovation and will lead the drive to spread the culture of reading and build stronger Arabic language publishing sector and literacy.
All of this will be under the chairmanship of  Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs.

The Committee will implement a comprehensive national literacy strategy and framework to encourage reading and usher in a societal and behavioural change to spread the culture of reading in all walks of life in the UAE.

The Committee will also coordinate all efforts and will launch initiatives in order to establish the UAE as a capital of content and knowledge in the region in addition to implementing the directives of the president of the UAE to produce a well-informed reading generation that can lead the process of development based on knowledge in the UAE.

Sheikh Mohammed concluded, "We want the UAE to be a beacon of science and knowledge, just as Andalusia, Granada, Baghdad and other Arab nations were sources of enlightenment and knowledge for centuries. And we are capable, ready and sure of our ability to achieve that."

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