iRead competition to expand to across Arab countries
‘We believe that our greatest wealth is not only and gas, but human capital.’
The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is expanding its flagship iRead competition to included readers across the Arab world, leaving a virtual footprint on the Arab cultural landscape.
The announcement came during a ceremony this past weekend to recognize the winners of the 7th iRead competition, with Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser presenting awards to this year’s top performers.
“We live in a rapidly developing world which faces challenges that require innovative and creative thinking abilities, as well as communication and cooperation, to build a better future for humanity,” said Nasser. “Our wise leadership, which launched unprecedented positive and pioneering transformations within the framework of Vision 2030, finds no limits to aspirations, especially among youth.
We, at Aramco, believe that our greatest wealth is not oil and gas, but human capital, and we seek to contribute effectively to building the future within the company's strategy to achieve growth, prosperity, and sustainability.
— Amin Nasser
“Therefore, the iRead competition was launched to stimulate knowledge and the spirit of intellectual exploration to fuel the human mind,” he added.
Al-Nasser added that he hoped that Saudi Arabia would celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to a Saudi author in the future, and that the iRead competition will have played a significant role in that achievement.
The ceremony hosted a large gathering of intellectuals and writers, who were briefed on the long journey in which the winners traversed throughout the competition. One of the speakers during the final ceremony was Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Laureate of Literature.
The ceremony also honored those who won the titles of “The Reader of the Year,” “Reading Ambassador,” and “Translation Ambassador.”
Hussain Hanbazazah, Ithra director, expressed his utmost pride in the participants and winners of the competition, which has witnessed rapid development since its inception in 2013, as well as an increase in the number of participants which exceeded 75,000 readers.
Hanbazazah noted that as Ithra seeks to develop the annual program as its expanded to an international stage, Ithra is looking to give more bibliophiles to join.
Hanbazazah said reading is one of the protective shields of the Arabic language, and that it is purely a tool of human development that contributes to thought innovation through various streams of Arabic literature. The competition played role in promoting knowledge and raising awareness by encouraging the youth to compete.
He praised the role that Ithra seeks to play in promoting aspects of culture and consolidating the pillars of reading, through its library, which has received more than 1 million visitors since the center’s inception.
The Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to the UAE, Turki Aldakhil, quoted Scottish writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, who said: "The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods,” adding that only those who lived it realize it.
“Deprivation has many faces, but the most painful is the depravation of the pleasure of reading,” he said.
And the winners are …
The panel of judges also announced the names of the winners of the reading ambassadors, as follows:
● Khazina Al Shammari
● Khuloud Al Anzi
● Maha Al Omari
And the winners of the translation ambassadors:
● Munira Al Hwaidi
● Wijdan Al Widyani
● Marwan Al Rasheed
The panel also announced Zainab Al Nasser as the winner of the Young Readers track, while the jury chose Mohammad Al Khalifa after he met all the needed criteria.
Shahd Al-Qaisum was voted by the audience as the reader of the year.
Caption for top photo: Mohammad Al Khalifa, who won the jury’s choice award, performs at the iRead finals ceremony this past week at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran.