In the UAE, 2016 2016 has been declared the “Year of Reading”:
Daily papers — including the Abu Dhabi-based The National and the Gulf News — have scrambled on board with the initative, as have book clubs, libraries, corporations, and schools. There are hashtags (#UAEReads, #عام_القراءة), and a “nationwide search for ideas to promote reading.”
The Dubai Municipality has even adopted a new policy for senior officials — with no explanation as to why it’s exclusively for department heads — attempting to encourage them to read books. These department heads can receive a “skill allowance” of up to 10 percent of their salary for reading a book from a list of 165 and writing a report.
“The summary of books read should be submitted as evidence in a 3-page Microsoft Word format or a 10-slide Power Point Presentation so that it is publishable on the municipality’s knowledge gate,” according to the Khaleej Times.
The titles of the 165 books were unfortunately not included in the Khaleej Times report.
In the second phase of the initiative, according to the Khaleej Times, employees will be able to choose their own books. However, they still must share the book report, which probably means there won’t be many Salwa al-Neimi or Siba al-Herz novels.
Some of the officials weren’t keen on being told what to read, according to the Khaleej Times. The paper didn’t ask why the program only applied to department heads, and why other members of the city workforce weren’t similarly being reimbursed for reading.