The United Arab Emirates is getting serious about reading and president Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has just enacted a National Reading Law to make it happen. It will be the first law in the world to promote reading as a lifestyle choice and to create a nation of readers.
The publishing industry will be the key beneficiaries of this new law. Books will be treated as a key commodity and will be exempt from any fees or taxes. They will not have to pay any taxes on printing or distribution, but they need to have an ISBN number.
Highlights of the National Reading Law
- Each newborn will receive around nine books. They will meet the needs of a child from when they are a baby until they reach the age of four.
- Coffee shops in shopping malls must offer reading material for their customers.
- Government employees will get free print and e-books and can read on the job, as long as the books have to do with their profession.
- Shopping centers will be subsidized by the government to offer reduced rates for tenants who will open a public library.
- These libraries must be suitable and easy to use for people with physical impairments or reading disabilities.
- The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development will create a National Archive that will preserve reading materials and hence ensure their availability for future generations.
- National Media council will unveil a huge campaign that will promote the fact that reading is of genuine value of UAE society.
- A specific month will be dubbed “National Reading Month”
- All Government bodies will soon come together to unveil a 10 year plan to implement all of these changes.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.