Spreading Education & Knowledge

“One of the most important lessons in history, old and modern, is that the rise of nations starts with education, and that the future of nations starts in their schools.”
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The year 2016 was announced the Year of Reading in the UAE, and MBRGI ha played an active role in spreading the message of the importance of reading across the Arab world through various initiatives and projects.

One of the most important initiatives launched to spread education and knowledge is the Arab Reading Challenge, the largest literacy initiative of its kind in the Arab world, which aims to instil the habit of reading into young people. The first phase of the challenge, during the academic year 2015/16, reached 3.5 million students. The second round, during the academic year 2016/17, reached 7 million students.

The year 2016 also witnessed the announcement of plans for the Mohammed bin Rashid Library, which is currently under construction and scheduled to be officially inaugurated in 2018. The library, which will cover 1 million sq ft, will cost AED 1 billion, and will contain 4.5 million printed, digital and audio books.

The total expenditure on initiatives dedicated to spreading education and knowledge amounted to AED 590 million and benefitted 9.3 million people across the world. Another AED 74.5 million was spent on scholarships, grants, fellowship programmes and knowledge events for both Al Jalila Foundation and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation.

  • Dubai Cares
  • Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation
  • Mohammed bin Rashid Library
  • Mohammed bin Rashid Arabic Language Award
  • Knowledge Summit
  • Arab Reading Challenge
  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award
9.3 Million Beneficiaries

of initiatives to spread education and knowledge

AED 590 Million

spent on initiatives to spread education and knowledge

AED 74.5 Million

spent on scholarships, grants and fellowship programmes

1 Million

square feet

4.5 Million

printed, digital and audio books

AED 1 Billion

in total

7 Million Students

participated in the Arab Reading Challenge during the academic year 2016/17

3.5 Million Students

participated in the Arab Reading Challenge during the academic year 2015/16

Reading Creates Hope for the Future

Education & Knowledge Initiatives

Education AED 590 MILLION

spent in 2016

Education 9.3 MILLION

beneficiaries around the world in 2016

Arab Reading Challenge


2015/16 academic year


students participated


2016/17 academic year


students participated

Dubai Cares

Education 2.2 MILLION

beneficiaries of educational programmes and initiatives in 2016

The year 2016 was a landmark year for education and knowledge in the Arab world. Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, declared it the ‘Year of Reading’, and introduced a strategy to consolidate the culture of reading, inspire a generation of readers, and establish the UAE as a hub for knowledge.

MBRGI and other institutions across the UAE and indeed the Arab world, took up the cause of promoting knowledge, reading and writing in Arabic.

In 2016, all MBRGI's initiatives devoted to spreading education and knowledge totalled AED 590 million.

Education For All

While MBRGI's primary focus is improving the lives of people in the Arab region, its efforts and impacts extend further afield, across the developing world, to reach people in need.

Dubai Cares, a philanthropic organisation focused on providing access to education, has a truly international influence. Between 2007 and 2015, it helped 16 million people across 45 countries, and in 2016 added a further 2.2 million people to its list of beneficiaries.

Dubai Cares has committed AED 73.5 million to the Emergency Education Programme, which aims to help refugees and other populations facing disasters pursue basic education, despite the disruption caused by crises.
The organisation will lead the policy-making efforts in this realm by allocating a fund of AED 36.7 million to support research.

Dubai Cares


spent on education and relief in emergencies in 2016

Already active in educating refugees, Dubai Cares has activities in Lebanon, where it has improved reading and maths skills, as well as the social and emotional outcomes of 4,600 highly vulnerable Syrian children. In Gaza, it has ensured access to education for 2,570 Palestinian refugee children by providing learning materials, and supporting teachers’ salaries and the operating costs of two schools for two years.

Stories for children

For almost 70 years, Palestine has been at the epicentre of war and instability. Preschools in particular are in dire need of support and the children of Gaza are constantly battling a sense of vulnerability and isolation.

Dubai Cares held training sessions for preschool tutors to improve literacy teaching for 900 children. Teams also aimed to reintroduce the childhood activity of reading stories to the children, encouraging them to listen to stories and embrace reading.

The children received 3,500 colourful book bags filled with storybooks, colouring books and crayons. In addition, brochures were distributed to parents and teachers to help maximise the resources available to them to help teach their children to read.

“The first book a student reads writes the first line of their future.”
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The Arab World’s Biggest Reading Challenge

The Arab Reading Challenge (ARC) is perhaps the most prominent reading initiative in the Arab world, having tripled its targets in its first year. The competition, launched in 2015, aimed to encourage 1 million students, in the first to the 12th grades, collectively to read 50 million books. During the academic year 2015/16, motivated by taking part in the Arab Reading Challenge, more than 3.5 million students read more than 150 million books, instilling in them a lifetime habit of reading on a regular and continuous basis.

In the 2016/17 academic year, the second round of the Arab Reading Challenge reached 7 million students from 41,000 schools in 15 countries in the Arab world, who read 200 million books.

The main purpose of the Arab Reading Challenge, and other efforts to encourage reading in the Arab world, is to improve the people’s prospects by disseminating knowledge and promoting learning. Part of the initiative includes distributing large-scale special editions of the books 1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in our World and 1001 Inventions & Awesome Facts from Islamic Civilization, to families and young citizens.

Dubai Cares also expanded its incentives to include awards for Arabic book publishers as part of its efforts to promote the Arab publishing industry.


Not even poor eyesight has held back participants with the vision to complete the Arab Reading Challenge. Jana Mukarra Abu Kamil, a 12 year-old student at Raouf Abu Ghanem School in Lebanon, is almost blind, however this hasn’t stopped her from being one of the highest achieving children in her school. The seventh grader was being taught at a special needs rehabilitation centre when officials recognised her abilities and transferred her to a public school, along with her teacher Miss Jomanah, who is credited with nurturing Jana’s love for reading. Jana won first place at a governorate level, before taking third place in the national finals in Lebanon.


Three days after her admission to the Arab Reading Challenge, Kawthar Hamidani, a second-year baccalaureate student from Morocco, received the news that she had been diagnosed with leukaemia.
The news came down like a thunderbolt, but Kawthar, retaining her composure, focused on the competition and her lessons for the next day.
“I concluded that strong will and determination are what lead to success,” she said.
Exchanging titles with her classmates, Kawthar managed to read the required quota of books and ranked fifth in the national rounds of the ARC.

Promoting the Arabic Language

The Mohammed bin Rashid Arabic Language Award ceremony was held in conjunction with the fifth International Arabic Language Conference in 2016, attracting academics, officials and professionals in the field to discuss ways of enhancing the status of the Arabic language in the world.

Each year, the Mohammed bin Rashid Arabic Language Award, recognises 10 individuals for their contribution to the use and development of the Arabic language in public life.

Mohammed bin Rashid Library

equipping AED 1 BILLION

Investment in building and equipping the library

space 1 MILLION

sq ft of total space

digital books 4.5 MILLION

printed, digital and audio books

Reading was also the core theme of the Knowledge Summit 2016, organised by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, whose mission is to establish Dubai and the UAE as a centre for knowledge and research. The annual summit brings together international and regional influencers, experts and thought-leaders to champion learning and discuss innovative methods of exchanging knowledge around the world.

A Monument to Knowledge

Scheduled to open in 2018, Mohammed bin Rashid Library will cost AED 1 billion and will contain 4.5 million books, including 1.5 million printed books, 2 million e-books and 1 million audio books. The 1 million sq ft library is expected to attract 9 million visitors a year.

The summit is also the platform for the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award, which acknowledges the achievements of individuals, bodies and institutions.

During the Knowledge Summit 2016, The Arab Reading Index was launched, in association with the United Nations Development Program. The index benchmarked the region against the rest of the world and outlined the opportunities for addressing illiteracy and fostering a culture of reading.

“Knowledge is true human capital, and is the main gate for sustainable development and for building an economy anchored by the mind and talent.”
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Strengthening Educational Capacities

Al Jalila Foundation, a non-profit organisation centred on medical education, research and treatment, aims to foster understanding of learners with special educational needs or disabilities.

Its Ta’alouf programme educates teachers and parents on how to enable children with special needs and advocate the rights of their children in an inclusive education system.

In addition, Al Jalila Foundation works directly with UAE nationals to increase their career prospects specifically in the healthcare sector. It has raised the profile of medical career opportunities to more than 2,000 Emirati school students during its Destination Medicine Summit.

As well as sponsoring 58 UAE postgraduate and undergraduate students enrolled in healthcare programmes, the foundation awarded 20 research grants and three international fellowships.

A Reading Nation

In Ramadan 2016, MBRGI launched ‘Reading Nation’, a Ramadan fundraising campaign with the goal to raise AED 5 million to purchase, print and distribute books to children in refugee camps and to students in need in the Arab and Muslim world. The campaign exceeded all expectations and raised AED 80 million to build 3,000 libraries in the Arab world.

Reading Nation


to equip 3,000 libraries in the Arab world


Atiq Mubarak is father to five autistic children aged between six and 22 years old. With the condition affecting their personalities differently, it was clear they needed support, but his desire to see them attend regular schools and integrate with mainstream education was a priority.

Attending Al Jalila Foundation’s Ta’alouf parents’ training programme equipped him with the skills needed to face daily challenges and provide the best life for his children. More able to understand them, work with their strengths as well as prepare them for conventional education, he can help them reach their full potential.