Reading during working hours: Sheikh Mohammed reveals details on new law

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced a law on reading that is being called the first of its kind in the region.

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DUBAI // Employees will be given time off work to read under a law that was passed on Monday, which also exempts reading material from taxes and fees.

The President, Sheikh Khalifa, announced the law, which is aimed at achieving the country’s vision of a knowledge-based economy.

“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 harnessed them in the best interests of the homeland and Emiratis,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, hailed the law on Twitter as “an unprecedented cultural and legislative initiative”.

As part of the law, the Government will give a “knowledge briefcase” to the families of newborns.

هدفنا أن يكون عام 2016 هو بداية لتغيير ثقافي وحضاري مستدام بين أجيالنا.. تغيير يرسخ قيمة الكتاب ويمجد العلم والمعرفة ويُعلي شأن القراءة

Schools will be obliged to encourage reading among pupils, as well as a respect for books. Books that are no longer wanted must not be destroyed, but preserved, reused or donated, Sheikh Mohammed said.

Fess and taxes for distributing, publishing and printing reading material will be scrapped, and facilities for authors, editors and publishing houses will be provided. Sheikh Mohammed said the law would consolidate “the cultural image of books in our society, and oblige coffee shops in shopping malls to offer reading material for customers”.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

A national fund will be set up to support reading initiatives and assist media organisations to advertise the importance of books. The fund will also be used organise a month dedicated each year to promoting literature.