The results of the Arab Reading Index, the first important indicator to measure the level of progress in reading in the region was announced during the opening ceremony of the Knowledge Summit 2016 on Monday, being organized by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) on December 5-7, 2016, at the Grand Hyatt Dubai hotel.
The third edition of the Summit, with the theme of ‘Knowledge… Present and Future’, brought together prominent ministers, executives, and intellectuals to discuss ways to boost the production and dissemination of knowledge.
Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, attended the opening ceremony.
The Arab Reading Index was born out of the extensive joint efforts of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme. “The index is an important tool capable of evaluating reading and cultural patterns in the Arab region,” said Jamal bin Huwaireb, Managing Director of MBRF.
Turki Aldakhil, General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel, speaking during the opening ceremony, announced the Arab Reading Index results. “We keep hearing about a lack of reading in the Arab World,” Aldakhil noted, “Many took this for a fact and began to investigate the reasons. They relied on statistics that erroneously state that Arabs only read six minutes – a quarter of a page – per year, or that on average, every 80 Arabs, combined, read one book. While these studies have been previously debunked, MBRF decided to carry out a new study in the region.”
Insight into reading
“The poll was meant to canvass 20,000 people, but it actually drew 148,000 respondents from all around the Arab World,” Aladkhil continued.
“The study gives us insight into the realities of reading in the Arab world, revealing exactly how much the average Arab citizen reads, what they read, and in which languages, among other parameters. The Index also showed that, contrary to popular belief, Arabs, on average, read 35 hours a year – 15 hours within school or work hours and 20 outside of them. Meanwhile, the average number of books read is 16 per year – including seven within school or work hours and nine outside of them.”
“What is more,” Aladkhil explained, “e-reading surpasses traditional reading. As far as paper publications go, respondents read scientific books, novels, specialised magazines, newspapers, and comics, in that order. Meanwhile, in e-reading, the survey showed that social media topped the list, followed by news websites, e-books, and blogs.”
Sheikh Maktoum gave away the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award - which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the dissemination and production of knowledge around the world – to this year’s winners.
The three winners of the $1 million award were Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, and The Arab Thought Foundation(ATF) chaired by Prince Khalid Al Faisal.
Accepting the award on behalf of Ms. Gates was Hassan Al-Damluji, Head of Middle East Relations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, while Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State - Chairman of Masdar, accepted the award on behalf of the Abu Dhabi-based Masdar company. Finally, Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz, Chair of Board at ATF, accepted the award on behalf of the Foundation.
The Arab Thought Foundation is an international, independent and non-governmental organisation founded in 2001 with a guiding mission to help advance the economic, social and cultural development of the Arab region. The Foundation launches developmental initiatives, programmes, and events in a bid to help forge cultural partnerships
A spectrum of events and workshops also began on the sidelines of the Knowledge Summit 2016.