Meet Abdullah, this year’s Arab Reading Champion Filed on September 21, 2021
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Out of 21 million participants, he was declared the winner.

Eighteen-year-old Abdullah Abu Khalaf — this year’s Arab Reading Champion — has read more than 500 books since he was nine. And it all started with the Holy Quran.

“I was inspired by the stories and words in the Holy Quran, so I delve deeper into its meaning,” the Jordanian teen told Khaleej Times on Tuesday, a day after he won the Dh500,000 grand prize in the fifth Arab Reading Challenge (ARC).

DON'T MISS: Winners of ARC prizes worth Dh11 million announced

After the holy book, he kept reading and reading more titles, until the written word became part of his life. For the ARC alone, he read 170 books.

Abdullah bested 21 million participants from 52 countries in the annual challenge. He excelled in successive judging rounds with his confidence and clarity through which he expressed his ideas and opinions.

Since the event was held remotely because of the pandemic, Abdullah received the news of his win through a surprise visit from Ahmed Ali Al Balushi, the UAE Ambassador to Jordan.

Meet Abdullah, this year’s Arab Reading Champion (

The teenager is a poet, too. He has written more than 20 poems on various topics, from love to satire and wisdom, from current events to history.

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He recently graduated from high school with flying colours, getting a score of 95.5 per cent. Now, he’s planning to take up medicine.

“I would like to combine my love of literature with my passion for science because I’m good at both and I really love both fields,” Abu Khalaf said.

He was offered a scholarship by the Abu Dhabi University and American University in Dubai, but he had not yet decided where he would pursue his education.

“I would like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his sponsorship of such initiatives, showing how keen he is on encouraging the Arab children and youth to read and instil in them the love of Arabic literature, in order to ensure a bright future for the upcoming generation,” Abu Khalaf said.

Afkar Abdullah

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