Online voting for the best participating school in the Arab Reading Challenge opened on Friday.
Of the 52,000 schools that entered the competition, in its third year, five were shortlisted to win the coveted title of Outstanding School and a prize of Dh1 million.
Finalists include schools from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria and Palestine.
"This year’s surge in participation of schools from around the Arab world is testament to the increased competitiveness of the Arab Reading Challenge, which has become an added motivational factor," said Abdullah Al Nuaimi, project manager at Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives – organisers of the challenge.
The number of competing schools has grown by more than 11,000 since 2017, with most showing a steady increase in pupil participation since the challenge launched three years ago, reported state news agency Wam.
Arab Reading Challenge was announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and its aim is to revive a love of Arabic literature, engage with Arab children and encourage them to discover a literary world of stories, philosophies and a heritage that goes back hundreds of years.
On Saturday, Sheikh Mohammed shared a video counting down the days to this year's final, which he is expected to attend.
"Ten million pupils are taking part in the Arab Reading Challenge. Ten million readers will change a lot. Each reader is a candle who will be illuminated with their knowledge as part of their world and our world," Sheikh Mohammed said.
Last year’s winner was Palestinian Afaf Raed, 17, who read 50 Arabic books in a year. Her prize was Dh550,000.
This year’s winners stand to gain Dh11 million in prizes. The Outstanding School will receive Dh1m, while the Outstanding Supervisor will be awarded Dh300,000. The Champion of the Arab Reading Challenge, who will be announced during a ceremony on Tuesday, will win Dh500,000.
The finalists in the Outstanding School category underwent several qualifying stages that comprised selection by region and country. The winner will be chosen by a committee of education experts and administrators, based upon the popular vote. People can cast their votes online on the Arab Reading Challenge website from October 26 to 30 at 9am.