We all know how important reading is, and we love hearing it from Sheikh Mohammed.

Afaf Raed is probably having a pretty great week. The Palestinian student has won the second Arab Reading Challenge, and she’s been congratulated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum himself.

From a pool of seven million, Raed stood out. She’s now set to receive Dhs550,965, split between her university education and her family as a thanks for their support. Judged on her reading comprehension, general knowledge, and ability to communicate in Arabic, Raed has got to be feeling good.

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Sheikh Mohammed used the event as an opportunity to discuss the importance of reading on a personal level, as well as in the Arab world as a whole.

“The real winner is the Arab World and the Arab youth who is equipped with the power of knowledge and books,” His Highness said.

This was the second Arab Reading Challenge, with participants doubling from last year’s 3.5 million children. Sheikh Mohammed is keen to see even more young readers on board next year.

“We want to gather all Arabs from around the world in the Arab Reading Challenge,” His Highness said.

“The Arab Reading Challenge unveiled the passion of our kids with reading.. We are a the nation of reading… and it actually does read.”

Another big winner? Al Iman School in Bahrain. They’ve been awarded Dhs3.67m, with Dhs367,300 each going to the school principal and to the supervisor who drove much of the school’s engagement in the challenge. It’s great to see passionate educators being rewarded.

كرمنا اليوم أكثر من ٧ مليون طالب شاركوا في تحدي القراءة .. مبروك للأولى عفاف رائد من فلسطين ولمدرسة الإيمان بالبحرين. فخور بنجاح تحدي القراءة العربي.. وأعلنا تحويله لتحدي عالمي وندعو الجاليات العربية في المهجر وفي كل بقعة للانضمام لمسيرة القراءة العربية. هناك قوة في الحرف والكتاب وقوة في كلمة اقرأ .. قوة تصنع الحضارة وعندما يجتمع 7 ملايين عربي في مشروع واحد، نعرف أننا في الطريق الصحيح Today we honoured the 7 million students who took part in the Arab Reading Challenge. I am deeply proud of the success of this initiative. Congratulations are due to Afaf Raed from Palestine, who was crowned winner and Al Iman School in Bahrain, which won the best school award. We invite Arabs from around the world to participate in next year’s Challenge. There is no power stronger than reading and knowledge

A post shared by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (@hhshkmohd) on

“I am deeply proud of the success of this initiative,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Instagram, adding his personal congratulations to Raed and the winning school.

If you needed another reason to encourage your young ones to pick up a book, this is it.
The Arab Reading Challenge was established last year with the goal of getting a million Arab students to read 50 million books a year.

Literacy and reading is a key concern for our ruling family. Back in September, HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein encouraged parents to read to their kids.

“Literacy is also a driver for sustainable development in that it enables greater participation in the labour market; improved child and family health and nutrition; reduces poverty and expands life opportunities,” she said.

We couldn’t agree more.

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Images: Dubai Media Office