Book in Your Arms: How new project is encouraging Sharjah’s prison inmates to read

The initiative will also give prisoners access to local literary talent

The Book in Your Arms initiative officially launched on Tuesday with a session at Sharjah's House of Wisdom. Knowledge Without Borders 
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A new project in Sharjah is aiming to highlight the power of the written word in prisons by providing more books for inmates.

Launched by cultural initiative Knowledge Without Borders (KWB), the Book in Your Arms project will also give inmates the opportunity to interact with authors through a series of sessions, which will be held in partnership with the Sharjah Police Punishment and Correctional Institution Department.

A mobile library offering a wide range of titles and topics will be stationed at session locations.

The initiative was launched on Tuesday with a session hosted at Sharjah's House of Wisdom, which was attended by nine inmates.

Author and aviation advisor Dr Suaad Al Shamsi, the first Emirati female aircraft engineer, and Waheeb Al Kamali, an author and personal development expert, discussed their works and distributed signed copies of their books.

"Our activities are aimed at encouraging the wonderful habit of reading in all segments of the community, without exception,” Mariam Al Hammadi, manager of KWB, said in a statement.

"We wanted to extend this opportunity to the prison inmates for whom the chances to access books and literature for personal growth are rare. These sessions will host a group of intellectuals, authors and experts who will help inmates advance their skills and expertise, encourage them to read more, and highlight the importance of books and knowledge in achieving the nation's goals and ambitions."

Al Hammadi said the first session was aimed at encouraging inmates to read for their overall wellbeing, "as well as putting them on a path that will hopefully lead them into societal integration".

Brigadier General Ahmed Abdul Aziz Shuhail, director general of the Sharjah Police Punishment and Correctional Institution Department, said the partnership with KWB aims to highlight the value of reading for inmates.

"This initiative is in line with our shared vision and common goals to advance the reading skills and knowledge of our inmates, as we aim to impact their wellbeing, and ease their rehabilitation process to becoming law-abiding residents of the UAE,” he said.