A nine-year-old Moroccan girl on Tuesday won $136,000 (120,000 euros) in an Arabic-language reading competition organized by the Dubai government.
Maryam Amjoun beat 16 other finalists all aged under 18 from across the Arab world to land the top prize in the third annual Arab Reading Challenge.
The youngest of the five finalists was crowned during an award ceremony held at the Dubai Opera House by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
When the winner was announced, Amjoun burst into tears of joy, prompting the Dubai ruler to wipe her tears with his ghutra, in a very emotional scene.
“I expected to win because I was prepared for this challenge very well. Since 2017, I have been reading books, summarising them and trying to understand their content. I knew I was going to be the champion,” said Amjoun after she was awarded the prize.
The prize money from the award will go toward her university education and to her family for encouraging her to read.
Amjoun continued: “Reading can help fight poverty and ignorance. It is like a hospital to the mind,” she said, as the audience cheered.
All the five finalists had 60 seconds to answer one question by the judging panel. The audience were then asked to take part in an instant voting poll, choosing Amjoun as the first winner of the competition.
Organizers said that this years literacy initiative — in which competitors have to read at least 50 books to qualify — saw “10.5 million students from the Arab region and worldwide” take part, therefore over 250 million books were collectively read by participants during this competition.
The Al-Ikhlas school, in Kuwait, won a $270,000 prize for the best reading initiatives for students.
Aisha Al-Tuwairqi, from Saudi Arabia, won the title of Outstanding Reading Supervisor and took home $82,000, while Tasneem Eidi, from France, was recognized for her reading efforts in non-Arab countries and won $27,000.
Last year, 17-year-old Palestinian high school student Afaf Raed Sharif won first prize.
Launched in 2015 by Sheikh Mohammad, the Arab Reading Challenge aims to ignite a cultural renaissance by encouraging all students across the Arab World to read, as well as Arab students in foreign countries and bilingual Arabic speakers.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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