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A wheely good read.

As a mobile library begins its rounds, Eve Dugdale finds out why its so important to find a good book

Slaying dragons in a faraway oriental dynasty or wiping out army platoons in war-torn villages - video games allow you to explore some strange new lands.

But can you visualise entering a world developed entirely by your own imagination?

You're given a plot and you'll find out a little about the characters but the way they look and their mannerisms evolve entirely by the power of your mind. And the best thing is, nobody else can see the way this world looks, it's developed completely in your mind.

Cool hey? Something Sony or Nintendo may develop in years to come but put a hefty price tag on.

Not quite - this technology has been around for years and is available to us all but sadly many of us fail to utilise it.

We're talking about reading.

Yes, the simple art of turning a page and leaving the real world behind has become a bit of an antiquated hobby for many.

There are hardcore followers who've never lost the passion for picking up a good book but as computer games become more and more popular and TVs have gone from being a luxury item to an object you'll find in every room of the house, reading has lost its appeal.

Think about it - how many times have you explained to your children they must read, but as soon as you've packed them off to bed, realised your favourite TV show is starting, you've just sunk into the sofa for the night?

Well, now a new initiative is aiming to reignite the UAE's love of reading.

The Kitab Bus - the National Mobile Library - makes its debut this week at Bawadi Mall in Al Ain for the 'Al Ain Reads' book show.

The Kitab (which means 'book' in Arabic) bus, is home to both Arabic and English books of all genres, will tour around the city every evening and also be the venue for story telling sessions.

But why is picking up a good book so important?

"Reading is essential to the development of a sophisticated and broad-minded intelligence, and books have a unique capability to open doors to new ideas and new ways of thinking," explains Monika Krauss, the bus' general manager.

Doctor Rajeshree Singhania, who confesses she 'couldn't live' without reading, says the activity is essential to life itself.

"From reading letters to looking at the internet - everything involves reading. Despite all the technological inventions, you can't do away with reading so it's important to develop your reading skills," she explains.

"Reading is very important for education. It helps you understand and comprehend, hone skills - especially with children.

"If they're just reading schoolwork it's not the same thing because teachers are teaching it to them, they're not reading to comprehend or make sense of it themselves. The best thing is to read stories that interest them, even if they're not at the level you think the child should be at, let them read so they develop skills." And it's not just expanding your mind where reading can help.

"Reading can be very relaxing but you have to find a book you really enjoy," Krauss adds.

"If you don't find the right one, reading can become a chore and put you off. So find one you enjoy." After touring Al Ain, the Kitab bus will head to Abu Dhabi then to Ruwais and organisers hope it will visit Dubai in the near future For exact locations, email or call organisers on 050 151 3411 Top places to Get lost in a good book...

If you get easily distracted at home, there's plenty of places to escape for an hour with a good book in Dubai... * In your favourite coffee shop:

Whether you're a cappuccino or a mocha fan, grab yourself a mug of the hot stuff and lose yourself with a good book taking the odd minute out for some people watching.

If you want to look really intelligent, head down to the cafe at The Shelter art gallery or, if comfort's more your priority, find a cosy spot on a sofa next to a false coal fire at Caribou. * Down at the beach: It's cool enough now so why not set up camp with an umbrella and relax with a good book while the sea gently laps the shore - bliss! * By the Dubai Fountains: Even if it's just for the joy of texting a pal back home to say you're enjoying a spot of reading next to a 275 metre-high water feature, you can find a spot by the fountains to indulge in a spot of page turning. * At Mushrif Park: If you're bored of the popular Safa Park and fancy getting away from the city to a spot where you're unlikely to be found, head past the airport to the 124-hectare Mushrif Park. Complete with an international garden area exhibiting miniature houses from different countries, if sitting in a windmill while you read doesn't appeal to you, there's a large expanse of mature trees to sit under.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Oct 5, 2009
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