Mariam Amjoun, a 9-year-old Moroccan girl, has won the 2018 Arab Reading Challenge in Dubai, outperforming 10.5 million participants from 40 countries.Amjoun won AED 500,000 (nearly MAD 1.3 million) in prize money. She will use it for her university education and for her family for encouraging her to read, reported Gulf News.The award ceremony was held at the Dubai Opera House today, October 30. “I am extremely happy with this prize. I would like to thank his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for this amazing initiative which developed our cognitive curiosity and increased our love for reading books.”“I advise Arab children to read because reading is the ‘lighthouse of civilization,’” she added.Despite her young age, Amjoun said that she has read 200 books and participated in the challenge with only 60 books.“If I want to describe my country in two words, I would say ‘a piece of heaven,’” Amjoun said confidently.Amjoun was the youngest of five finalists from Egypt, Algeria, Palestine, and Jordan.Before going to Dubai, Amjoun had beaten thousands of participants in Morocco and was chosen from among 16 semi-finalists.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE prime minister, honored the top finalists from Arab and other non-Arab countries.A panel of judges asked the finalists various questions before asking the audience to vote.The audience voted in an instant poll, choosing Amjoun. Sheikh Mohammad presented the winners of the competition’s different categories with awards totaling AED 11 million (over $3 million).“The challenge is the largest-ever Arab literacy initiative encouraging students to read as many books as possible, over 50, in one academic year,” wrote Gulf News.The number of children participating this year increased by 26 percent since 2017, from 7.4 million to 10.5 million participants from 44 countries. The number was described as “a record-breaking.” The challenge included Arab students from Arab countries and non-Arab countries as well as non-native speakers of Arabic.Tasneem Aidi from France was a top winner from a non-Arab country.A total of 52,000 schools and 87,000 supervisors participated.The Ekhlas School from Kuwait won an AED 1 million prize for “having the best reading initiatives in the region.” Aisha Tuwergy from Saudi Arabia won AED 300,000 for being the “best supervisor” to encourage students in the challenge, reported Gulf News.Sheikh Mohammad launched the the Arab Reading Challenge in 2015. The challenge aims to “establish a culture of reading among the new Arab generations across the globe,” and enhance “the importance of knowledge in shaping their future as well as the future of their communities and countries.”Palestinian Afaf Raed won the title of the champion of the 2017 Arab Reading Challenge.