The United Arab Emirates has brought in a National Law of Reading, putting legislative frameworks in place to support the development of reading across the UAE.
Fees and taxes will be scrapped on book printing, publishing and distribution; schools will be required to develop an annual plan to encourage reading; the private sector will be encouraged to invest in establishing libraries and cultural centres via grant incentives and other measures; and a National Fund will be established to support reading initiatives.
Other measures in the legislation announced by UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and vice-president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum include requiring coffee shops in shopping malls to carry reading material for their customers and giving employees the right to do "specialised" reading within working hours. Books that are no longer wanted can no longer be destroyed, but must be kept and reused or donated elsewhere. Meanwhile media organisations will have to allocate programme slots to the encouragement of reading.
As reported by Gulf Today, Sheikh Khalifa said: "Our goal is to prepare generations that work towards excelling and achieving the vision of the UAE, which since its inception has recognised the importance of knowledge, science and culture and harvested them to the best interests of the homeland and emiratis."
Communicating via Twitter, Sheikh Mohammed described the National Law of Reading as "an unprecedented cultural and legislative gesture" which looked "to build a glorious future for our people".