"Big up" to friend, colleague & nutty boy Tom.
Tom was interviewed by the local rag in their "Me, Myself, I" feature, and spent most of the interview trying to move the subject away from himself on to the issue of making more people read.
Tom has spent a lot of his time trying to initiate coherent action towards improving reading habits. This does not apply to the rates of literacy in the UAE (which have grown miraculously over the last 3 generations), but to the love of reading, which does not seem to be very prevalent in the region as a whole. Tom plans to apply the lessons learned from the literacy campaigns in the UK, such as the The National Literacy Trust and campaigns such as Reading Champions.
In the Reading Champions campaign, role models and heroes of young people are portrayed engaging with their favourite books and interviewed about their reading experiences. The rationale is that by seeing reading as in important part of their heroes' lives, children will be more encouraged to read, and to see reading as 'cool'.
I wish Tom success in this attempt and in his work towards setting up a SIG (Special Interest Group) with TESOL Arabia to promote good practices in teaching reading - but more of that another day