UAE government employees in the United Arab Emirates are to be given “dedicated time to read” during work hours following a new law intended to “make reading a daily habit”.
Described as the first of its kind, the UAE’s new “national law of reading” was announced by UAE president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, earlier this week. It will allow government staff time to read at work – although they must focus on reading matter about professional and personal development within the context of the workplace.
The law will also oblige coffee shops to offer reading material for their customers, said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UAE’s vice-president and Dubai’s ruler, and will see branches of libraries opened in malls, as well as exempting books from fees and taxes.
The law will also see a “knowledge briefcase”, or reading bag, given to children. The bags will be provided at birth, one and two years, will be in Arabic for UAE nationals and Arab expatriates and in English for non-Arab expatriates. Expatriates are estimated to make up 90% of the population.
And it will mean that unwanted books cannot be destroyed but must be “preserved, reused or donated”.
“The law will encourage the private sector to invest in the establishment of libraries and cultural centres. This will be done by providing the private sector with facilities, incentives and discounts,” said Sheikh Mohammed, according to the National. “Our goal is for 2016 to be the start of a sustainable cultural change among generations – a change that consolidates the importance of reading, celebrates knowledge, and boosts the status of reading.”