[The top 20 were also awarded and honoured with rewards in the challenge that gave away Dh11 million worth of prizes. (Photo: Dubai Media Office)]
Dubai: Afaf Raed from Palestine was on Wednesday declared the winner of the second round of Arab Reading Challenge, after a tough battle with over 7.4 million students from 25 countries.
Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the winners with their awards during the closing ceremony award at Dubai Opera.
Winning second place was Sherif Sayed from Egypt, while third place was given to Hafsa Al-Dhanhani from UAE, according to Khaleej Times.
Raed takes home a Dh550,000 ($150,000) cash prize, $100,000 of which will go to her university education and $50,000 to his family for their encouragement.
"You ask me why I read, but I would ask you why shouldn't I read? Reading adds life to our minds. It is a lifestyle. I want to become a scholar because only through the word, we are able to solve society's problems," she told the judging panel.
Like last year, the audience participated in choosing the ARC winner by casting their votes.
The top 20 were also awarded and honoured with rewards in the challenge that gave away Dh11 million worth of prizes.
Raed also outperformed the 16 finalists who were further narrowed to five after the jury made the shortlist based on participants' comprehension of text and ability to communicate accurately in Arabic; critical and creative thinking; and general knowledge.
Launched in September 2015, ARC became the largest pan-Arab project that aims for a million students in the Arab region to read 50 million books a year.
Seven-year-old Mohammed Jallood from Algeria and Palestinian-based Talaie' Al-Amal School were the winners of the 2016 Arab Reading Challenge.
While the challenge attracted 3.59 million students in 2016, it saw double the participation this year with over 7.4 million students, 75,000 supervisors from 41,000 schools in 25 countries.
Six schools made it to the finals where $3 million worth of prizes were awarded to finalists and winners.