Dubai Culture launched its 2021 edition of The Reading Box in a digital format as part of its continuous keenness to implement National Reading Month. This year, the theme of the month, as identified by The Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCY), is ‘My Family Reads.’ This affirms Dubai Culture’s active role in promoting the habit of reading among society and making it an established habit.
This initiative is part of a series of activities through which Dubai Culture seeks to build a reading society that adopts science and knowledge as habits and a means to develop high standards of civilisation, in line with the Authority’s commitment to support the National Reading Strategy 2016-2026. Dubai Culture’s support also assists in the implementation of the Cabinet’s decision that set March as a national month for reading, contributing to inspiring younger generations, encouraging them to interact with government initiatives in this regard, and leaving a positive impact on them by enticing them to read.
Given the current circumstances, the topic of reading will be presented in a new and innovative way. The Reading Box will provide a variety of interesting and fun educational workshops remotely through Microsoft Teams that will encourage the younger generation to read and write. The workshops will be available in both Arabic and English, in line with the diverse and multicultural community in the emirate.
The first week of the programme will be held 7 - 13 March and will include an open workshop titled ‘Introduction to reading music (solfegio)’ presented by Mohamad Hamami, a Syrian violinist, conductor, and composer who founded Dubai-based SharQ Orchestra in 2008. The workshop will allow participants to learn how to read musical notes through the Solfegio method (or singing from a musical note), and will be presented in both Arabic and English from 5 - 6 p.m. on Tuesday, 9 March.
Thriller lovers looking to explore the secrets of writing in a captivating manner that would grab readers’ attention from the first page are encouraged to engage with a workshop titled ‘Writing thrillers: from idea to story,’ presented in English 4:30 - 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 March. During the workshop, British journalist and writer Annabel Kantaria will introduce attendees to the key elements that every thriller needs as well as reveal insider tips and techniques on how to write a story that would keep readers hooked.
Annabel Kantaria won the inaugural Montegrappa Writing Prize at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. She currently has four published novels, and her fifth, The House of Whispers, will be published in May under the pseudonym Anna Kent.
The week will continue with a session on ‘The Emirati historical novel’ on 11 March by Ghaith Al Hosani, founder of the Mosaic Initiative that deals with empowering reading culture in society, founder of Russian Literature Salon, and board member and chairperson of the Reading and Innovation Committee of the Emirates Library and Information Association. The session will witness the participation of two Emirati writers, Nadia Al Najjar, author of The Speckled Tiger, which was included in the Arabic language curriculum for fourth-grade students in the UAE; and Saliha Obaid, author of ‘Alzheimer’ that was translated to German and ‘Implicitly White Lock of Hair’ that won the ‘Al Owais Creative Award’ in 2016.
The session will address the factors of artistic maturity of historical narrative in the UAE in light of the achievements made by Emirati society across all levels, whether social, political or economic, and the cultural openness that is evident among local writers. It will also address the two writers’ experiences in employing story elements in the novel, the Emirati historical models that have not yet been put to light, and how to prepare the next generation to write historical novels.
The Reading Box is one of the annual initiatives organised by the Public Libraries Department at Dubai Culture. The first version was launched in 2016 in a new and innovative form at the Dubai Mall to instil the concept of reading among society, especially the youth, in all public places, making reading a permanent societal behaviour practised by individuals, even in shopping centres.
The initiative’s full programme and updates on the reading month can be viewed on Dubai Public Libraries’ Instagram account