UAE issues National Law of Reading

UAE president His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued the first-ever National Law of Reading, which sets legislative frameworks, executive programmes and specific government responsibilities to establish the value of reading in the UAE.The law aims to support human resources development and contribute to building mental and cognitive capabilities, while support national intellectual production and build knowledge-based societies in the country.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced: “Reading and knowledge are the real foundations for genuine development and concerted efforts should be made to ensure the success of this law, which will institutionalise all efforts to enhance reading in the community. It aims to make learning a lifelong process for all segments of the society and promote the intellectual and cultural assets for the UAE’s citizens.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, stressed the importance of reading, which he described as a “key to knowledge and a bridge to reach the highest levels of innovation across various sectors.”

“The UAE has selected creativity and innovation as pathways to progress. The pillar of this creativity lies between the covers and pages of the book. So, open up new avenues of knowledge for them, and help them make research and curiosity a habit from the early ages. This will help develop a generation of scholars and scientists who will pursue progress and development.The law has the same cultural value as reading, and transforms it to an integrated government project. We seek to promote reading and knowledge in schools, universities, foundations, homes and across the state.Our goal is to make reading a daily habit for the people and competent institutions should translate the law into reality,” he said.

The federal law decree includes 18 articles. The law seeks to instil reading as a daily activity in public utilities in the country such as coffee shops and malls and asks them to provide reading material to visitors. It also instils the importance of books among students to preserve and not destroy, re-use or donate them.

The law focusses on the need of full integration between the educational system and reading by urging schools and universities to develop their libraries and encourage reading among students through annual plans. It also urges the Ministry of Education and other departments in the education sector to develop curricula and educational systems to promote reading skills among students.

Other competent authorities are asked to provide public libraries or reading facilities across the country, and stimulate private sector investment for building libraries and cultural centres.The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development will establish a unified and comprehensive database for all libraries in addition to libraries of the government institutions. The National Media Council, the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development and Ministry of the Economy will set development programmes to promote the publication industry in the country and issue policies that would enhance reading in Arabic Language and provide high quality national books. The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development will set the plans and the necessary funding to support publishing of materials and distribute them in accordance with the needs of the people with special needs.

The Arab Writers Union has welcomed the new law on reading as another step towards achieving the country’s vision for a knowledge-based economy and human development.

Habib Al Sayegh, the pan-Arab union’s secretary general and chairman of the Emirates Writers Union, said, “The law is especially important when viewed within the context of similar initiatives, including H.H. Sheikh Khalifa’s declaration of 2016 the Year of Reading, the launch of a UAE National Strategy for Reading, and others.”

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