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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Reviews Major Challenges Facing Arabic Literature for Young Generations


The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has outlined some of the key issues and major obstacles in encouraging young Arabs to read content in their native language. The Arab Reading Challenge (ARC), launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minster, and Ruler of Dubai addressed the relationship between books and younger generations, how youth can be stimulated to read more and the reasons why Arabic content is unable to compete with English. The ARC is the largest Arab project of its kind to promote reading and encourage young people to overcome low reading rates in general.

The ARC was held at Dubai Festival City Intercontinental Hotel, as part of the 10th edition of the event and comprised Abdullah Al Nuaimi, Coordinator of ARC, Latifa Al Falasi, Arabic Curriculum Development Specialist at the Ministry of Education and Dubai Abulhoul, Emirati young author.

Abdullah Al Nuaimi underscored that the ARC aims to motivate Arabs to read more to open cultural dialogue, broaden horizons and nurture a message of tolerance and open-mindedness.

He noted that the ARC exemplifies hope to the Arab literary world; the first edition of the ARC comprised 3 million students, beating the target of 1 million, and the second edition featured 7 million students, illustrating that it is now reaching a worldwide Arabic audience.

Speaking of her personal experiences, author Dubai Abulhoul addressed the reluctance of young generations to read Arabic content, preferring to read English instead, adding that rapid technology progress and the mass appeal of social media contributed to a reluctance to read books in paper-format.

Abulhoul emphasised that the Arabic content presented to children and young adults in schools is too rigid in its format and not consistent with reality. She added that when she began reading, she enjoyed English language books and it was only when she started writing that she returned to her Emirati roots and drew on its features and characteristics for inspiration.

For her part, Dr. Latifa Al Falasi said teachers play a crucial role in promoting reading and its values among young people and urged educators to implement an approach that encourages students to discuss books as adults, not merely see them as part of the curricula.

The seminar was attended by a host of visitors who questioned the statistics that determine the rates of reading in the Arab world and how such statistics compare to reading and publishing rates globally. The discussion also highlighted the fundamental role of translation in the publishing industry and the development of Arabic content, and its power to attract target readers.