The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced a new law to get people to read more. The law includes a large number of measures to support the government’s wish for a higher literacy rate. Government employees will have paid time during working hours to read books. The law encourages private companies to create libraries at their offices, factories and other workplaces. It will also encourage shopping centres to offer spaces to set up public libraries so people can read when they go shopping. These libraries will be easy to use for people with reading disabilities. Even coffee shops at shopping malls will have to offer books and other reading materials to their customers.
The UAE’s National Reading Law was issued by President Sheikh Khalifa. In May of this year, he launched the National Strategy for Reading, which has a 10-year goal to create a nation of “avid readers”. It aims to make reading a lifelong habit for 50 per cent of the nation’s adults and 80 per cent of school students. It also aims to get students to read an average of at least 20 books a year. Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, said the new law is: “A road map for building a reading, civilised society capable of change, and a world leader in development.” Dr Tod Laursen, President of Khalifa University, said that in the age of the Internet, it was still important for books and libraries to have their place in society.