Ali was a published author prior to joining iRead -- his first novel, AlHarbawat, was published in 2010, while he was still a teenager.
It was during iRead that Ali was given a platform to explore new topics, challenge himself, and allow himself to be challenged by others. "iRead improved my skills and deepened my readers as a reader first, and then as a writer," he said.
During iRead, students are provided with access to varied media, such as film, music, theater and literature, as well as funding and support to develop the artistic project of their choice. This gives them the opportunity to explore and discuss different lenses and perspectives with each other.
“That’s the interesting part of it! You might enter the program not knowing what your interests are. And then, as you’re learning about all these different things, you start to also realize new things about yourself. Things you didn’t know about who you are.”
The program helps to establish a network of like-minded readers and critical thinkers that can continue well after the competition is concluded. Ali is still in touch with the friends he made at Ithra –he says they helped him discover his "true self."
“All of us are interested in books and reading and some topics like philosophy and literature,” he says. “It is a little difficult to find companions in this field.”