Four contestants out of the Arab Reading Challenge semi-finals

  • Contestants of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are the first four eliminated from the Arab Reading Challenge
  • 12 contestants continue to compete towards grand title: Arab Reading Champion
  • Tarek Shawki: “The Arab Reading Challenge meets the new education system’s philosophy that urges students to develop their self-learning skills.”
  • Majid bin Ali Al-Nuaimi: “The rising participation in the challenge proves that this generation is taking the right path.”
  • Saleh Abbas: “Every reader who picks up a book is a winner of knowledge.”
  • Dr Tahani Al-Beiz: “Choosing to spend time in reading and gaining knowledge makes all participating students winners.”

Contestants from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain left the Arab Reading Challenge semi-finals in the first stage of elimination that narrowed contestants down to 12 running up for the grand prize.

On the fourth episode of the Arab Reading Challenge TV show, eight contestants in the danger zone took part in three decisive challenges that saw the elimination of four semi-finalists.

Raneem Hamouda and Shaima Basyouni from Egypt, Bushra Assiri from Bahrain and Fahad Al Habout from Saudi Arabia were the first to go home.

Muna Al Kendi, Secretary General of the Arab Reading Challenge, said the 16 semi-finalists are real winners for being selected among the 13.5 million students across the Arab world who participated in the 4th edition of the Arab Reading Challenge.

“Regardless of the results this year, we are proud of all the participating students and confident in their ability to harness their knowledge in building the future of their countries. Presenting role models to other students implements the main goal of the challenge that seeks to spark an interest in knowledge and reading as the main pillars of creating a better future for the region,” said Al Kendi.

The three challenges that the eight contestants partook, in a bid to select the four remaining contenders, involved drafting a short story using six given vocabularies before narrating it to the judging panel in one minute, while the second involved altering the ending of a short story by the late author Yusuf Idris.

The third challenge involved presenting solutions and suggestions to encourage youth in the Arab world to read before the judging panel.

Based on their knowledge, text comprehension, language articulation and use, contestants were selected back into the safety zone after each challenge, leaving out five contestants, among which four had to go home.

Reading phenomenon

Dr. Tarek Shawki, Egypt’s Minister of Education, said the Arab Reading Challenge has cemented its status as a major cultural and knowledge initiative in the Arab world year after year as through a journey that aims to raise awareness of the importance of reading among students, develop their self-learning and analytical skills and encourage the use of the Arabic language in expression.

He noted that the increasing number of participants in the 4th edition that reached 13.5 million students from 49 countries reflects the challenge’s success in promoting the culture of reading. It also goes in line with the immense attention dedicated to instilling the habit of reading among the young generation, especially as Egypt declared 2019 as the Year of Education.

“The Arab Reading Challenge meets the new education system’s philosophy that urges students to develop their self-learning skills,” said Shawki. He stressed that all participating students are winners whether they were crowned at school, educational district, directorate or governorate level. “We are proud of everyone who takes up reading as a habit,” he said.

Positive competition

H.E. Dr. Majid bin Ali Al-Nuaimi, Bahrain’s Minister of Education, said since its inception in 2015, the Arab Reading Challenge has created a positive competition spirit among students in education and knowledge.

He added, “The rising participation in the challenge proves that this generation is taking the right path and responding to efforts exerted to foster an interest in reading, innovation and creative and critical thinking.”

Al-Nuaimi noted that all participating students who represented Bahrain in the challenge are celebrated as champions for practicing their passion of reading and striving to become active participants in the knowledge economy.

Arab winners

His Eminence Saleh Abbas, Al Azhar Undersecretary, expressed pride in the participation of students from Al Azhar institutions across Egypt. “Every reader who picks up a book is a winner of knowledge,” he said.

He added that such examples of Arab knowledgeable youth will lead the Arab nation towards reigniting its culture of reading. The challenge, he said, succeeded in encouraging millions of Arab students across the world to use and protect their language through reading.

100 reading initiatives

Dr Tahani Al-Beiz, Undersecretary for Educational Programs in Saudi Arabia, said 100 initiatives aimed to support 1.3 million students in 200,000 schools in Saudi Arabia in response to the Arab Reading Challenge.

She added that students who read and summarized 50 books without qualifying to later stages are as appreciated as those who represented Saudi Arabia at school, educational district level or kingdom level.

“Choosing to spend time in reading and gaining knowledge makes all participating students winners,” noted Al-Beiz.

“Reading is not merely a hobby, but is also an integrated and effective approach that leads our lives, especially when practiced consistently.”

She reaffirmed the kingdom’s commitment to participating in the challenge to meet one of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 in developing the human capital through taking reading as a daily habit.

Ongoing competition

The show continues to air every Friday at 9 p.m. on MBC1 with new challenges ahead of the 12 remaining contestants running up for the grand Arab Reading Champion prize. The next episode will see three more contestants eliminated, with the remaining nine moving to new round of challenges in the sixth episode.

The final episode will broadcast the winner announcement live from Dubai Opera in November. The winner takes home Dh500,000 in prize money, as part of Dh11 million worth of cash prizes.

The show aims to celebrate inspiring young Arab readers and highlight their success stories in an edutainment format, encouraging young people to follow suit and take up reading as a lifestyle, while preserving their language.

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