Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Qatar: “We Are a Nation That Does Not Read”

This is one of the saddest articles I could read, a Nation that Does Not Read.

There is a secret to teaching your child to read. The secret is: be readers.

When a child grows up surrounded by books and magazines, when she grows up seeing her parents with books, magazines and newspapers in their hands, guess what happens? The child also grows up to be a reader.

YOU are the key to your child’s reading. Do you read to your children before bed every night? Do they already have their favorite books? Do you use books to reward good behavior?

There is a world of wonderful children’s books out there for children of every age. I commend Qatar for taking these first steps to create a nation of readers, and I urge that this be a long term project, with continuing support.

There are several bookstores in Qatar – the Jarir has a large number of children’s books. Virgin has books. The Dar ath Thaqafa stores have children’s books. There is a store in City Center called Eye Spy which has all kinds of children’s educational resources, it is up on the third floor, I believe. Buy books when you are travelling abroad and give them out during the year as special treats. You CAN create a nation of readers. 🙂

From the Gulf Times

Club will nurture rare ‘book worms’
By Ourouba Hussein

The Childhood Cultural Centre is to launch an ambitious project that aims to inculcate the reading habit among children in Qatar.

Called the “Book Club”, the project was conceived after a study found that children in Qatar read only a quarter of a page per year.

Book Club project manager Abdullah Hamid al-Mulla said that children in Qatar read almost nothing outside their syllabus while children in the US read 11 books a year and their counterparts in the UK 8 books.

“We are a nation that does not read,” he stated.

According to the study, the number of books published in the Arab world is eight for every 12,000 children, al-Mullah said, adding “we know why Arabs are lagging in many fields”.

He said the project, under the slogan “a trip into the minds of people”, targeted children in the age group of 6-18 years and aimed at expanding their perceptions, as well as creating a reading culture.
He noted that since statistics showed that Arabs did not read more than six minutes per year and experience proved that children did not go to libraries or book clubs, the centre decided to reach out to them, in schools and “wherever they are”.

“We will work out agreements with schools and provide the books in schools also.”
Al-Mullah said incentives associated with the project that will be launched in conjunction with the Doha Book Fair 2009, featured excursions inside and outside Qatar, awards and cultural publications. The book fair opens at the Doha International Exhibition Centre today.

He explained that once a child is registered with the club, he will earn points according to participation in activities organised by the forum.

“Points are earned according to the level of the child’s usage of the free library, reciting stories for reading groups or attempts to write on his own, as well as participation in workshops,” he said.

According to the number of points earned, the child will be rewarded.

Al-Mulla also pointed out that experts would be available to help children select the most appropriate books.
He noted that the club’s pavilion at the Doha Book Fair will introduce many interactive educational projects for children.

December 30, 2009 - Posted by | Books, Community, Cultural, Doha, Education, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Words


  1. Its best to start reading at a young age so your skill may dull with time but atleast it would still be there
    it improves society and the individual in so many ways
    Even, imo, if the bulk of the reading was to be done online it would be benefitial. But atleast there should be reading and research.
    Reference to your earlier post about the new traffic rules, I just found out that Kuwait has sticter rules this year. A 10-20 km/h increase over the limit is 100 kd now, severe tickets can go up to 500 kd w/ suspension of license or jail for 3-6 months. I think 100kd for a 10-20 km/h is too harsh tho.

    Comment by Vinnie | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  2. […] post: Qatar: “We Are a Nation That Does Not Read” « Here There and … Share and […]

    Pingback by Qatar: “We Are a Nation That Does Not Read” « Here There and … | Drakz News Station | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  3. You’re right, Vinnie, even reading things online, even reading blogs, its all part of the reading habit.

    My husband and my son are addicted to books on CD/MP3, etc. that they can listen to during long drives, or working out, or on planes.

    My real concern is lack of the habit – our house is full of books waiting to be read, so many many books with such wonderful ideas, stories, I am afraid I won’t live long enough to read them all!

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  4. Its the same in Lebanon – absolutely heart-breaking how few people read, or teach their children to do so. do you ever see Qataris reading in public? For all the occasions in which one might see reading in the US – while adults are waiting in line, while children are on an airplane – I never saw equivalents in Lebanon or Syria. I hope this project can be the start of a broader change!

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  5. I’m sending a link to a site developed by a recent CMUQ grad…children’s books and other educational materials in Arabic available on line! What a fantastic concept and good way to help encourage young readers in this area!

    Comment by grammy | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  6. Actually, I do see Qatteri men reading newspapers in public, Little Diamond, and I think reading newspapers is a GOOD thing. 🙂 Do you think one of the problems is lack of access to good reading materials, or is it mostly just lacking the habit/value of reading?

    YAY, Grammy! I hope people take advantage of your link!

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 30, 2009 | Reply

  7. Our parents were too busy to read (though it didn’t stop my father); however nowadays, with our pathetically easy lifestyle in the Gulf, we have no excuses!

    I would also say that, to encourage children, we need more variety. Thank you, grammy, for the link – I got excited for a few seconds until the page opened. I have two children of 6 and 4. The English books available for their age group are inspired! I love reading them (My wife does it more than I do). When I look at the Arabic ‘equivalent’ even the font is boring! And please don’t get me started on the quality of the illustrations and photographs!

    It’s like watching Playhouse Disney channel – then switching to Spacetoon 🙂 Sorry.

    Comment by Bu Yousef | December 31, 2009 | Reply

  8. 🙂 God bless your Father, Bu Yousef, he left you a legacy of reading, and you and your wife are passing it along to your children! *dancing for joy*

    Children’s books in Arabic – that is a GREAT niche in which someone could make a lot of money. I think Kuwait has all the talented young people who could do it, the books, the illustrations. There is one group; or something like that, which is doing some books and work in that direction . . . but the field is wide open, isn’t it?

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 31, 2009 | Reply

  9. I’ve noticed that too, Bu Yousef…the children’s books in Arabic that I see in local bookstores do not have the dramatic colors, bindings, etc. that pull a person in and make them WANT to pick them up. Agree with Intlxpatr that kid lit in Arabic is a wide open market!

    Comment by grammy | December 31, 2009 | Reply

  10. What I would love to see in Arabic, “the language of God” – and poetry – is an Arabic Shel Silverstein. I give him half the credit for turning our son into a reader. On long trips, he would read Shel Silverstein poems to us in the car, and we would laugh for hours.

    Comment by intlxpatr | December 31, 2009 | Reply

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