His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, crowned Afaf Sharif who is a student from Palestine, as the winner of Arab Reading Challenge at its second session in a grand ceremony in Dubai. He also honoured Al-Iman School from Bahrain as the first school in the Arab Reading Challenge, and won the million dollar prize.
His Highness Sheikh awarded Dr. Houria Alzel from Morocco the Distinguished Supervisor Award in the Challenge, following a competition of literacy, and knowledge that witnessed the participation of millions of Arab students. The competition witnessed the support and encouragement of millions of people throughout the Arab world during the current year.
The ceremony was attended by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Lieutenant General His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and His Excellency Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Secretary General of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Initiatives.
At the end of the second round of the Arab Reading Challenge, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced making the Challenge global saying: "We call upon the Arab communities in the diaspora, and in every part of the world to join the process of reading and reviving the Arab book."
His Highness said: "Arab Reading Challenge has shown us the passion of our children for knowledge, and that the nation of "read" ... is actually reading". He added saying that "these young people are the ones who will build the future of their countries, and who will continue the march of building on strong and solid base of knowledge. Praising the results, he said: "I am proud and happy and optimistic about the success achieved by the Arab Reading Challenge".
His Highness added when more than 7,000,000 participants meet, in one Arab project, we realize that we are in the right way of civilization. The real winner today is the Arab World, and the Arab youth that is equipped with the power of knowledge and the book.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stressed that the Arab Reading Challenge is not specific to any country, but to every Arab who is keen on his language, and the future of his children. He further said: "We are strong by science and knowledge, and strong by the Arab youth who realize the importance of reading, and we are strong by all Arabs' meeting in cultural projects such as the of Arab reading Challenge".
His Highness confirmed that: "There is strength in the letter and the book, and strength in the word "Iqra'", which the holy Quran started with, a strength that makes civilization," pointing out that tolerance, openness, awareness, balance in thought, and work begin from the book.
His Highness pointed out that the Arab Reading Challenge is part of the knowledge and civilization system within our initiatives, and more than 10 million people will annually benefit from this system.
Afaf Sharif from Palestine won the first place in the Arab Reading Challenge 2017 among the top 5 finalists. She won a prize of $ 150,000 snatching the championship of the greatest Arab knowledge tournament from Sherif Mustafa of Egypt, who came in second place.
Hafsa Al-Zanhani from the UAE who came third, followed by Shaza Al-Tuwairqi from Saudi Arabia in fourth place, and then Bushra Maysoum from Algeria in fifth place. Afaf Sharif, winner of the Challenge of Arab Reading in its second year, won the admiration of the audience at the ceremony by answering the final jury question in a way that reflected her ability, self-confidence, and the ability to articulate her ideas clearly. She talked about the value of reading, and how it constitutes the life for her mind and soul. She also confirmed that through reading she has become more able to understand and analyze, thus gaining the highest audience vote. This was boosted by the evaluation of judging panel that came in line with the public choice.
The other contestants also showed a distinguished presence. Hafsa al-Zanhani the student from the UAE performed distinctly, stressing that reading for her is passion, love and beauty. Shaza al-Tuwairqi, from Saudi Arabia, surprised the audience and the jury with her spontaneity, especially when she spoke of her admiration of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's book "Reflections on Happiness and Positivity" echoing a number of sayings with remarkable skill.
Sharif Mustafa of Egypt showed a power in personality. Speaking about the great impact of the Arab Reading Challenge on his life, he asserted that he has become a productive person, and more understanding of people's feelings. Bouchra Meissoum a student from Algeria, spoke about the role of reading in enhancing our self-confidence, shaping our opinions and building our awareness in an expressive way.
The five students reached the top places in the finals held in Dubai, during which the first contestants of the Arab Reading Challenge from different participating countries sat tests for two days. The committee consisted of UAE writer Bilal Al-Badour, the Saudi writer and journalist Badriya Al-Bishr and Hanan al-Harb, winner of the world's best teacher award in 2016.
The Girls' section of al-Iman School of Bahrain won the title of the first Arab school, with a reward of one million dollars, surpassing Al-Hasad Al-Tarbawi school of Jordan, which came second, and Emirates National Schools in the UAE which ranked third. Al-Iman School was able to excel during the Challenge course through the organization of many outstanding activities and literacy and knowledge initiatives in which all students have been involved, in addition to teachers and parents and various sectors of the local community.
Some of the activities of the school throughout the academic year were the organization of trips for students participating in the Challenge to book fairs, and giving periodic lectures on reading where a number of writers were invited to talk about their creative experiences, in addition to organizing several reading programs throughout the year.
For its part, Al-Hasad Al-Tarbawi school from Jordan distinguished itself by the designing a program covering various aspects of the Arabic Reading Challenge, which included many classroom and library activities, and motivational competitions which are devoted to encourage reading at school.
Emirates National School adopted the Arab Reading challenge project as an integrated part of its educational system, and set an integrated plan to ensure that its students achieve outstanding results, transforming reading into adaily practice.
The UAE National School paid special attention to the public library and class library, as well as activating the role of the family to support the students. Six schools were successful in reaching the final stages of the Challenge. In addition to the 3 schools that ranked first. In the final stage Hassan Abu-Bakr school and the Official Integrated School of Languages in Egypt competed.
The Arraba Elementary School from Palestine, and Abdel Hamid Dar Abid High School from Algeria provided through their activities, and through student and community programs a model of the attractive educational environment.
In a precedent, the public contributed to the selection of the most distinguished school in the Arab Reading Challenge, from the 6 schools that reached the final stage through electronic voting on the Challenge site a week before the ceremony, where 4 million people interacted with the campaign. The public vote was counted with the results of the judging committee for the evaluation of schools.
Dr. Houria Alzel, the supervisor from Morocco received the "Distinguished Supervisor Prize" and was awarded $100,000. This is the first time that this award has been given in recognition of the efforts of school supervisors and coordinators and their support during the stages of the Challenge.
The event, which was presented by media professionals Mustapha Agha and Bruine Habib, witnessed the attendance of 2000 people, including a large number of officials and ministers of education and culture in the Arab countries, representatives of diplomatic missions in the country, and a crowd of media professionals and intellectuals.
The creative artist Hussain al-Jasmi has also participated, together with the Kaissar of Arab singing Kazem Al-Saher, and the brilliant artist Abeer Nima. The event included a number of intervals highlighting the challenge of reading, reflecting the experiences of students, supervisors and schools across the Arab world, amidst an atmosphere of enthusiasm and encouragement, and the following up of millions of Arabs in a live broadcast of this major event in 15 Arab countries.