UAE Reading Initiatives


Encouraging reading for pleasure

In building a culture of reading for pleasure, several UAE initiatives have been launched to instill positive reading habits from an early age.


Encouraging reading for pleasure

In building a culture of reading for pleasure, several UAE initiatives have been launched to instill positive reading habits from an early age.

Encouraging reading for pleasure is one the mandates of EPA and there have already been a number of running initiatives across UAE to encourage adults and children to read.
These are:

Sharjah International Book Fair

Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is one of the largest book fairs in the world, the most prestigious in the Arab world and home to the most exciting literary event in the region. The main aim of SIBF is to encourage reading among people, especially the younger generation, by making quality books accessible to them at affordable prices.

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Abudhabi International Book Fair

The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is the most professionally organised, most ambitious and fastest growing book fair in the Middle East and North Africa. Abu Dhabi is the motor driving the professional and commercial development of the regional publishing industry, and is financially and philosophically committed to the long-term expansion of the global book business.

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Year of Reading 2016

UAE declares 2016 as Year of Reading. The year 2016 has been declared the year of reading in the UAE to create a generation of book lovers and consolidate the UAE's position as a global capital for culture and knowledge. It was declared on Saturday by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Knowledge Without Borders

The 'Home Library' initiative is in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to provide every home in the UAE with a library. It aims to promote a reading culture and increase knowledge in every household, so that reading will contribute to elevating the cultural sphere. The Library for Every Home initiative aims to help all individuals develop spiritually and intellectually in the UAE in general and in Sharjah in particular.

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1001 Titles

With the aim of enriching cultural identity and empowering Emirati creativity, under Her Highness Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al-Qasimi, Knowledge Without Borders has launched an initiative to publish 1001 first edition Arabic books to captivate readers of all ages and interests. With this creative project, the Emirati community has an opportunity to fulfil their writing ambitions and influence today’s society by sharing their beautiful stories, unique messages and educational research. By doing so, they will be part of developing the culture of reading, in-line with His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, declaring 2016 the Year of Reading.

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Zayed Book Award

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award commemorates the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and his pioneering role in promoting national unity and development. The Award, and its associated accolades, are presented annually to outstanding writers, intellectuals, and publishers, as well as young talent whose writing and translation in humanities objectively enriches Arab intellectual, cultural, literary and social life. An independent cultural initiative, administered by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, the awards are worth AED 7 million (US $1.9m) annually.

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The Abu Dhabi’s Kitab Bus program

Kitab Bus, the National Mobile Library, is a project launched by “Kitab” in November 2009 at the headquarters of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA). Started in collaboration with the German Cultural Center (Goethe Institute), UAE and with the support of TCA, the initiative aims to promote a culture of reading and facilitate easy access to books by taking them right to people’s doorsteps across the Abu Dhabi Emirate.

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Reading Nation Initiative

An educational campaign, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, in Ramadan 2016 aiming to distribute 5 million books to children in refugee camps and schools in need around the world. This campaign is yet another initiative through which the UAE expresses its passion for serving humanity. It represents the UAE’s transition from feeding the hungry and quenching thirst, to nurturing the mind and the soul during the holy month of Ramadan.


"Lughati" is the first-of-its-kind initiative that was originally launched in 2013, targeting students to make learning Arabic easy and more accessible to them. “Lughati” will assist students in government schools in Sharjah utilising the latest technology and apps to make learning fun. Through Lughati, Arabic for "My Language", 25,000 students and 1000 teachers in Sharjah’s government schools will receive tablets that have been equipped with specially designed Arabic language educational programmes and applications.

My Family Reads

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF), a pioneering foundation in the field of developing positive energy and building capacity of the youth to develop knowledge-based societies, announced that Dubai Statistics Center(DSC) has joined the "My Family Reads" initiative, which aims at creating a knowledge-based society promoting the culture of reading for all members of society by providing them with knowledge packages containing a selection of books on various topics in various spheres of life.

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Sharjah named World Book Capital 2019

Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) was named World Book Capital for the year 2019 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee which met at the Headquarters of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) at La Haye.

The city was selected because of the very innovative, comprehensive and inclusive nature of the application, with a community-focused activity program containing creative proposals to engage the very large migrant population.


Why Sharjah for World Book Capital?


Since 2001, UNESCO has been selecting a World Book Capital every year on the grounds of certain criteria, where the title is awarded to the city, which shows continued excellence in charting a cultural programme of activities throughout the year to promote reading and books focusing on grassroot community involvement. The criteria include the breadth and impact of cultural programmes, and quality of events tailored by countries to promote books and reading.

Sharjah was chosen owing to the quality and diversity of its yearlong cultural programme, which stood out among the other entries competing for the 2019 title. Designated as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019, Sharjah will be rolling out a wide range of activities and events over the year. Specialised committees will be formed to organise and supervise these events.


Sharjah Initiatives supporting the books industry:

Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) – Government entity dedicated to supporting books and reading
The Knowledge Cart – Provides public hospitals with mobile libraries
Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) – The third largest book fair in the world
The Neighbourhood Library – Provides public parks with mini libraries
Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) – The largest of its kind in the Arab world
The On-board Library –Provides passengers on Air Arabia flights with books to read
Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) – The world's first publishing free zone
The Digital Library – Features 50 titles which are refreshed each year
The Translation Fund – Providing funding assistance to boost book translation
The Hotel Library – Aims to establish a library in every hotel in the emirate of Sharjah
Knowledge without Borders (KwB) – A cultural initiative which distributed 2,118,300 books to Emirati households, creating 42,366 home libraries
‘Books - Made in UAE’ – Strengthens skills and opens opportunities for authors and illustrators
1001 Titles – Aims to publish 1,001 first edition Emirati titles in 2016–17
The ‘Kan Yama Kan’ initiative – Provides high quality books for children living in conflict-affected areas around the world
The Mobile Library – Visited 300 destinations up to mid-2017
‘Read, Dream, Create’ – Promotes reading as a noble habit among children and young adults


UAE takes pride in having a variety of libraries across the country. Browse our list of libraries in each emirate here.

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