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File photo of Arabic writing in the Hadith File photo of Arabic writing in the Hadith 

Catholic student in Rome wins top Arabic-reading prize

A student of a prestigious Catholic school in Rome has become the first non-Arabic native speaker to win the Arabic Reading Championship, a grueling test which sees competitors produce summaries of 50 books in Arabic.

By Devin Watkins

Have you ever read 50 books in your native tongue and then written a one-page summary of each of them?

Now imagine doing the same in a language which is not your own.

That impressive feat is exactly what Alexander Vörös did recently to win a top prize in Arabic literature, the Arabic Reading Championship.

Roots in the Holy Land

Currently, Alexander is a Catholic student at Marymount International School Rome, a private Catholic school which follows the American grading system.

But his love for Arabic began years ago while growing up in the Holy Land, where his father worked as an archeologist and professor.

Alexander now studies Higher Level Arabic Literature as part of his International Baccalaureate Diploma at Marymount.

Fascination with other cultures

He faced off against 21 million other contestants from across the globe in the Arabic Reading Challenge, whose participants hail from 14 Arab and 38 non-Arab countries.

The competition is part of an initiative promoted by the United Arab Emirates’ Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Alexander took the top prize as the first non-Arabic native speaker ever to win the category for students living in a non-Arab country.

Dedication to scholarship

He competed against native speakers from among the Arabic diaspora, and was judged on the quality of his reading choices and the depth and precision of his response.

According to a press release from Marymount school, Alexander exemplifies “dedication to reading and scholarship” and embodies a “fascination with other cultures and traditions.”

Alexander, his parents, and several staff of Marymount school appeared in a short film about the award which was produced by the UAE.

Short film about Alexander's prize-winning love for Arabic
29 September 2021, 11:12