The importance of reading

Handheld devices have invaded our lives, while books are being ignored

Turki Aldakhil
Turki Aldakhil
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It is impossible to have a vivid and developmental society if reading is not an essential part of it. Data shows that handheld devices have invaded our lives, while books are being ignored. Even before this technology emerged, the relation between Arab readers and books was not good. For example, when a book by a prominent Arab author was published, the number of prints did not exceed 5,000 - a very small number if distributed among 300 million Arabs.

This issue has always worried Emirati Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, as he is a writer and poet. A significant initiative he launched is the Arab Reading Challenge, to encourage reading among students in the Arab world, and to see more than 1 million of them read 50 million books during the academic year.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) dedicated AED 100 million ($27.2 million) to the reading strategy. It also issued the National Reading Law to detail national roles and responsibilities, and to make reading a key element in citizens’ lives. UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan said: “The aim of the Reading Law is to provide lifelong learning for all members of our society, and enhance the intellectual and cultural assets of our citizens.”

Books are no longer the first source of entertainment due to technology’s invasion of our lives, but those who make time to read paper books save themselves from the fatal addiction to technology

Turki Al-Dakhil

Sheikh Mohammed said: “There’s no knowledge-based economy without knowledge-based societies. It’s not possible to develop strategies without improving our generations. It’s not possible to build a tolerant society and coherent families, develop civilized social awareness or build a solid national identity without education, reading and knowledge. A reading society is a civilized society that’s flexible, a pioneer in development and accepts all cultures.”


The UAE is determined to solidify reading on the social and educational levels, and via organized and practical work. If we look at the resumes of people who influenced the history and civilization of their countries, we find that education, wit, reading and staying up to date in different fields are the reasons behind their success.

Reading is a pleasure and its benefits many. To understand this passion, one can read Alberto Manguel’s enjoyable works A History of Reading, A Reading Diary and The Library at Night. Reading is important for everyone. We often see photos of people in China, Japan, South Korea and Europe who have allotted a certain amount of time for handheld devices and for reading books either. We need this self-knowledge to achieve progress.

Old people make time to read. This is what we hope from subsequent generations. Books are no longer the first source of entertainment due to technology’s invasion of our lives, but those who make time to read paper books save themselves from the fatal addiction to technology. If you want your mind to develop, you must read.

This article was first published by al-Bayan on May 11, 2016.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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