Average adult in UAE reads about six books each year, survey reveals

The UAE National Reading Index helps understand the reading habits of Emiratis and residents

The average adult in the UAE reads about six books a year, a survey has revealed.

The results of the UAE National Reading Index 2021, which were released on Sunday, measure the reading habits of Emiratis and residents.

Nearly 4,000 citizens and residents across the seven emirates participated in the research by the Ministry of Culture and Youth. Among those surveyed were 150 writers, more than 3,000 students and 800 teachers and parents.

Results showed that the average number of books read per capita annually in the UAE among writers is 10, while other adults read about six per year.

The reading index is the first-of-its-kind project in the Arab region, and a way to help build a knowledge-based society
Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth

Also, 81 per cent of respondents said that there was encouragement from one or both parents to read from childhood.

The study showed this percentage was highest among Europeans and North Americans at 88 per cent and then Emiratis at 84.9 per cent.

More than half of the participants read digital materials and 40.4 per cent read printed materials.

Social media platforms are popular among Emiratis and residents, with 84.5 per cent of respondents saying that modern technology and social networking sites have motivated them to read more, and 88.1 per cent who read on social media platforms daily.

People in Ras Al Khaimah scored highest in the category of readers who prefer electronic devices.

Religious books ranked first as the most preferred books in the UAE at 37 per cent, followed by novels at 33 per cent and books about history and politics at 31.8 per cent.

Science books ranked the lowest, with only 26.1 per cent choosing to read them.

Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, said the index was part of the National Reading Plan, which aimed to make reading a way of life in Emirati society by 2026.

“It is the first-of-its-kind project in the Arab region, and a way to help build knowledge-based society and prepare plans and strategies for community development,” she said.

“It’s a key addition to enrich the Arab Knowledge Project and helps stakeholders to contribute to its development.

“The index will measure the success of the national reading strategy in achieving its objectives and help in the development of the necessary policies to contribute to the cultural development of the country.”

Hanan Mansoor Ahli, director of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, said the index would help policymakers to launch initiatives that promoted a culture of reading.

“It’s an accurate reflection of how much UAE communities read, which helps greatly in supporting policies and plans in the areas of reading and knowledge development in society,” she said.

“The accuracy of the statistical data will ensure the success of this national project for which we are proud to partner with the Ministry of Culture and Youth, thereby affirming the team spirit between UAE government entities.”

Globally, India read the most, followed by Thailand and China, according to the last published World Culture Score Index.

People in India spent, on average 10.42 hours reading per week, followed by Thai people with 9.24 and Chinese at 8 hours.

Arab Reading Challenge 2021 final - in pictures

Updated: April 03, 2022, 2:48 PM