UAE. The results of the Arab Reading Index, released during the Knowledge Summit in December 2016 in Dubai, revealed that, on average, the Arab citizen reads around 17 books and 35 hours per year.
The Index - launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - aimed to shed light on the realities of reading in the Arab world. It dispelled widespread inaccurate statistics, which placed reading levels in the region much lower than they really are.
The results of the survey state that the Arab reader reads, on average, 11 Arabic books and 6 foreign-language ones every year - be it within schools and universities or outside. Similarly, the results showed that the 35 hours of reading spent by the average Arab reader are divided into 20 hours in academic institutions and 15 hours outside of them. Moreover, 16 hours are spent reading print material and 19 are spent on electronic platforms.
Canvassing 148,000 people in all 22 Arab countries, the Index revealed that the UAE leads the GCC in terms of reading (scoring 82%) with 51 hours of reading and 24 books per person on average, followed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain (64%, 63%, and 58%, respectively).
Meanwhile, Lebanon took the overall top spot scoring 90%, the average Lebanese reader spends 59 hours a year reading 29 books. Lebanon was followed by Jordan with 71%, Palestine with 54% (39 hours and 18 books per year), and Syria with 39% (33 hours and 13 books). Wrapping up the rankings for the Levant and Iraq region, Iraq scored 36% with 27 hours and 14 books per year for every citizen on average.
For Northeast Africa, Egypt led the pack with 89% (64 hours and 27 books per individual per year), followed by Sudan with 43% (33 hours and 14 books), and Libya with 23% (18 hours and 10 books).
Morocco, meanwhile, led the Maghreb region countries with a score of 87% (57 hours and 27 books), followed by Tunisia with 70% (47 hours and 22 books), and Algeria with 51% (36 hours and 17 books).
Furthermore, the survey explored readers' preferences when it comes to print publications, where 28.05% of readers expressed an interest in books, followed by 20.55% for novels, 20.21% for specialised magazines, 17.06% for newspapers, and 14.12% for comic books.
As for electronic reading platforms, 23.52% of readers showed preference for social media outlets, while 23.02% preferred news websites. Moreover, 21.02% read e-books, 21.02% read digital magazines, while 9.35% read blogs and 7.78% prefer professional networks.
The Index is the first of its kind in the region; it is a scientific and standardised tool that tracks knowledge-focused initiatives in the Arab World and measures their impact on society in order to assign quantifiable numerical data to the process of cultural development in the region.
SOURCE: Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (MBRF)