Follow Vogue Arabia

HH Sheikh Mohammed Tenderly Comforts This Reading Challenge Champion

She beat out 10.5 million students across 44 countries to become this year’s Arab Reading Challenge award winner, but the moment was all too much for little Maryam Amjoun. The 9-year-old Moroccan schoolgirl was almost inconsolable after being awarded the trophy for the literacy competition in a ceremony at Dubai Opera on Tuesday. However, the student found a shoulder to cry on in His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was handing out the award.

The Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai cradled Amjoun as she dissolved into tears after walking on stage to collection her prize. The royal also wiped tears away from the young pupil’s cheek with his ghutra, in a move which has been applauded by fans across social media.

The third annual competition – the largest Arab literacy initiative in the world – encourages students across the region to pick up books and engage their minds. Shortlisted candidates were also quizzed by a jury panel on their knowledge, communication skills, and ability to articulate and organize thoughts. Amjoun took the top title, which also comes with a cash prize of AED500,000, thanks to her confident interaction with the jury, profound knowledge, and eloquent expression, according to Dubai Media Office.

Al-Ikhlas School from Kuwait received the Outstanding School award and a cash prize of AED1 million, while Aisha al-Tuwairqi from Saudi Arabia won the Outstanding Supervisor title and a cash prize of AED 300,000 in recognition of her inspirational teaching. Tasneem Eidi from France was named Outstanding Student from Arab Communities Residing in Non-Arab Countries and walked away with AED100,000.

“Books are the source of ideas and values for the next generations. A generation that reads is a promising one, and a nation that reads is one that invests in the future. Reading creates global citizens who care deeply about making the world a better place,” said HH Sheikh Mohammed on the night.

The royal also paid tribute to the challenge’s finalists, describing them as “role models for millions of Arab students”. “A river starts with many drops, and the participants of the Arab Reading Challenge are the first drops in the river of knowledge that we look forward to discovering in every corner of the Arab world and beyond. We rely on the reading champions to help us build a knowledge-based future for the region.”

Now Read: Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya Help Support Aid Shipment to Earthquake-Struck Island

View All
Vogue Collection