When you hear the words “unprecedented” and “UAE” in a sentence the first thing that springs to mind is probably a new skyscraper, theme park or fantastic event.
This time though, we’re talking about a pioneering law, one that has a pastime that’s older than any building in the UAE at its foundation.
Workers in Dubai now have the legal right to pick up a book during work hours and read away to their heart’s content (Okay, maybe not all day).
Without being experts on the matter, Time Out is sure that the measure is likely to provide many of us with a welcome and healthy distraction from office deadlines and stress.
It’s also an ideal way for us to reconnect with reading something that isn’t on a smartphone or computer screen.
“Our objective is to make reading a daily habit in our people,” said His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, who has spearheaded this pioneering legislation.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has given his full support to the law, describing it as an unprecedented cultural and legislative initiative".
"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," His Highness Sheikh Mohammed added.
That means that even coffee shops at shopping mall will have to offer books to its customers.
"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."
As an extra incentive, a national fund will be set up to support reading initiatives and assist media organisations to advertise the importance of books.
This body will also be used to organise monthly events devoted to promoting literature.
In addition, the government will oblige schools to encourage reading among their pupils.
And as if all these measures weren't enough already to get everybody in the UAE reading, next year the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, containing 1.5 million books, will open to the public.