Port Said
Clockwise from top:
Docks of Port Said, View from the Suez Canal, Obelisk of Museum of Modern Art, Mediterranean Sea, Port Said Hotel Gardens
Flag of Port Said
Official seal of Port Said
The valiant city
Port Said is located in Egypt
Port Said
Port Said
Location in Egypt
Coordinates: 31°15′45″N 32°18′22″E / 31.26250°N 32.30611°E / 31.26250; 32.30611
GovernoratePort Said
 • TypeCity-state
 • GovernorAdel Mohamed Ibrahim [1]
 • Total1,294 km2 (500 sq mi)
Elevation0−6 m (−20 ft)
 • Total680,375
 • Density530/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 CAPMS 2023 estimate
 • TotalEGP 190 billion
(US$ 12.1 billion)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EGY)
Area code+20-66
WebsitePortSaid.gov.eg (in Arabic)
Port Said, Port Fuad and Suez Canal

Port Said (Egyptian Arabic: بورسعيد, romanized: Bōrsaʿīd, pronounced [boɾsæˈʕiːd, poɾ-]) is a city that lies in northeast Egypt extending about 30 km (19 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, straddling the west bank of the northern mouth of the Suez Canal. The city is the capital of the Port Said governorate and it forms the majority of the Governorate, where its seven districts comprise seven of the governorate's eight regions.[5] The city was established in 1859 during the building of the Suez Canal, and at the beginning of 2023 had a population of 680,375 people.[3]

There are numerous old houses with grand balconies on all floors, giving the city a distinctive look. Port Said's twin city is Port Fuad, which lies on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. The two cities coexist, to the extent that there is hardly any town centre in Port Fuad. The cities are connected by free ferries running all through the day, and together they form a metropolitan area with over a million residents that extends both on the African and the Asian sides of the Suez Canal. The only other metropolitan area in the world that also spans two continents is Istanbul.

Port Said acted as a global city since its establishment and flourished particularly during the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century when it was inhabited by various nationalities and religions. Most of them were from Mediterranean countries, and they coexisted in tolerance, forming a cosmopolitan community. Referring to this fact Rudyard Kipling once said "If you truly wish to find someone you have known and who travels, there are two points on the globe you have but to sit and wait, sooner or later your man will come there: the docks of London and Port Said".[6]


The name of Port Said first appeared in 1855. It was chosen by an international committee composed of Great Britain, France, the Russian Empire, Austria, Spain and Piedmont. It is a compound name which composed of two parts: the French word port (marine harbour) and Said (the name of the ruler of Egypt at that time), who granted Ferdinand de Lesseps the concession to dig the Suez Canal.[7] Urbanized residents pronounce the name [boɾsæˈʕiːd] or [poɾsæˈʕiːd], while unurbanized residents pronounce it [bɔɾsaˈʕɛˑd].

In Ancient Greek, the city was called Πηλούσιον (Pēloúsion).


See also: Timeline of Port Said

Founding (1859)

Ferdinand de Lesseps monument on the tourist jetty
French sailors and Indian troops at Port Said in 1914
Postcard of the Arab quarter of Port Said
The office of the Suez Canal Company in Port Said built in 1893

Port Said was founded by Sa'id of Egypt on Easter Monday, April 25, 1859, when Ferdinand de Lesseps gave the first symbolic swing of the pickaxe to signal the beginning of construction. The first problem encountered was the difficulty for ships to drop anchor nearby. Luckily, a single rocky outcrop flush with the shoreline was discovered a few hundred meters away. Equipped with a wooden wharf, it served as a mooring berth for the boats. Soon after, a wooden jetty was built, connecting the departure islet, as it quickly became known, to the beach. This rock could be considered the heart of the developing city, and it was on this highly symbolic site, forty years later, that a monument to de Lesseps was erected.[6]

There were no local resources here. Everything Port Said needed had to be imported: wood, stone, supplies, machinery, equipment, housing, food and even water. Giant water storage containers were erected to supply fresh water until the Sweet Water Canal could be completed. One of the most pressing problems was the lack of stone. Early buildings were often imported in kit form and made great use of wood. A newly developed technique was used to construct the jetties called conglomerate concrete or "Beton Coignet", which was named after its inventor François Coignet. Blocks of concrete were sunk into the sea to be the foundations of the jetties. Still more innovative was the use of the same concrete for the lighthouse of Port Said, the only original building still standing in Port Said. In 1859 the first 150 laborers camped in tents around a wooden shed. A year later, the number of inhabitants had risen to 2000 — with the European contingent housed in wooden bungalows imported from northern Europe. By 1869, when the canal opened, the permanent population had reached 10,000. The European district, clustered around the waterfront, was separated from the Arab district, Gemalia, 400 m (1,300 ft) to the west, by a wide strip of sandy beach where a tongue of Lake Manzala reached towards the sea. This inlet soon dried out and was replaced by buildings; over time there was no division between the European and Arab quarters.

Since its establishment, Port Said played a significant role in Egyptian history. The British entered Egypt through the city in 1882, starting their occupation of Egypt.

Thriving international port and city (1902–1945)

French map of Port Said, c. 1914

At the start of the twentieth century, two things happened to change Port Said: in 1902, Egyptian cotton from Mataria started to be exported via Port Said; and in 1904 a standard gauge railway opened to Cairo. The result was to attract a large commercial community and to raise its social status. In particular a sizable Greek community grew up. In 1907, the quickly growing city had about 50,000 inhabitants, among whom were 11,000 Europeans "of all nations".[8] During the First World War, Port Said became home to an important Allied hospital.[9] Due to the strategic location of Port Said intersecting Europe, Africa and Asia, thousands of men were sent to this hospital. This included soldiers wounded as a result from the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. Following the end of the World War I, the directors of the Suez Canal Company decided to create a new city on the Asian bank, building 300 houses for its labourers and functionaries. Port Fouad was designed by the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The houses follow the French model. The new city was founded in December 1926.

Since its foundation people of all nationalities and religions had been moving to the city and each community brought in its own customs, cuisine, religion and architecture. By the late 1920s the population numbered over 100,000 people. In the 1930s for example there were elegant public buildings designed by Italian architects. The old Arab Quarter was swallowed up into the thriving city.[10] Port Said by now was a thriving, bustling international port with a multi-national population: Jewish merchants, Egyptian shopkeepers, Greek photographers, Italian architects, Swiss hoteliers, Maltese administrators, Scottish engineers, French bankers and diplomats from all around the world. All lived and worked alongside the large local Egyptian community. And always passing through were international travelers to and from Africa, India and the Far East. Intermarriage between French, Italian and Maltese was particularly common, resulting in a local Latin and Catholic community like those of Alexandria and Cairo. French was the common language of the European and non-Arab population, and often the first language of children born to parents from different communities. Italian was also widely spoken and was the mother tongue of part of the Maltese community, since the ancestors of the latter had come to Egypt before the Anglicization of Malta in the 1920s. Multilingualism was a characteristic of the foreign population of Port Said, with most people continuing to speak community languages as well as the common French.

In 1936 a treaty was signed between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Egypt called the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936. It stipulated the British pledge to withdraw all their troops from Egypt, except those necessary to protect the Suez Canal and its surroundings.

Admiralty Chart of Port Said, Published 1966

Revolution, end of British occupation (1946–present)

Following World War II, Egypt denounced the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, leading to skirmishes with British troops guarding the Suez Canal in 1951.

The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 occurred. Then on 26 July 1956, President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal Company. The nationalisation escalated tensions with Britain and France, who colluded with Israel to invade Egypt, the invasion known in Egypt as the tripartite aggression or the Suez Crisis. On 6 November 1956, British troops violently landed in Port Said while firing on the Egyptian military. Port Said next was bombed by the British, to terrorise the civilians, of whom hundreds died. There was also heavy fighting in the streets with again many civilian casualties, and the resulting fires destroyed much of the city.

The withdrawal of the last soldier of foreign troops was on 23 December 1956.[11] Since then, this day was chosen as Port Said's national day. It is widely celebrated annually in Port Said. The French-speaking European community had begun to emigrate to Europe, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere in 1946 and most of the remainder left Egypt in the wake of the Suez Crisis, paralleling the contemporary exodus of French-speaking Europeans from Tunisia. Most of the Greek community was also expelled or left the town under the rule of Gamal Abdel Nasser.[12]

After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, also called the Six-Day War, the Suez Canal was closed by an Egyptian blockade until 5 June 1975, and the residents of Port Said were evacuated by the Egyptian government to prepare for the Yom Kippur War (1973). The city was re-inhabited after the war and the reopening of the Canal. In 1976, Port Said was declared a duty-free port, attracting people from all over Egypt. Now the population of the city is 603,787.


Port Said has been ranked the second among the Egyptian cities according to the Human Development Index in 2009 and 2010;[13] the economic base of the city is fishing and industries, like chemicals, ultra-processed food, and cigarettes. Port Said is also an important harbour for exports of Egyptian products like cotton and rice, and additionally a fueling station for ships that pass through the Suez Canal. It thrives on being a duty-free port, as well as a tourist resort especially during summer.[14] It is home to the Lighthouse of Port Said (the first building in the world built from reinforced concrete).

Due to its excellent geographic location, Port Said is designed to attract logistics start ups along with import and export businesses.[15]

In 2019, the city witnessed the construction of the New Suez Canal, led by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

East Port Said Industrial Zone

Main article: East Port Said Industrial Zone

The government provides a number of incentives to investors in the scheme including zero tax and duties on tools, machines and raw materials related to the production of goods for export.[16]



Port Said has a hot desert climate (BWh) according to Köppen climate classification, but blowing winds from the Mediterranean Sea greatly moderates the temperatures, typical to the northern coast of Egypt, making its summers moderately hot and humid while its winters mild and moderately wet when sleet and hail are also common, yet less common than in Alexandria because Port Said is drier. January and February are the coolest months while the hottest are July and August.

The highest record temperature was 44 °C (111 °F), recorded on June 20, 1988, while the lowest record temperature was 0 °C (32 °F), recorded on December 25, 1979.[17]

Port Said, Kosseir, Ras El Bar, Baltim, Damietta and Alexandria have the least temperature variation in Egypt, additionally, Mersa Matruh and Port Said have the coolest summer days of any other cities or resorts, although not significantly cooler than other northern coastal places.

Climate data for Port Said (Port Said Airport) 1991–2020
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29.7
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 18.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 14.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 11.6
Record low °C (°F) 4.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 16.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 3.2 2.9 1.6 1.1 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 1.2 2.0 13.0
Average relative humidity (%) 68 66 65 64 66 67 68 68 68 65 67 69 67
Average dew point °C (°F) 8.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 213.9 206.2 266.6 294.0 337.9 360.0 378.2 365.8 330.0 310.0 261.0 204.6 3,528.2
Mean daily sunshine hours 6.9 7.3 8.6 9.8 10.9 12.0 12.2 11.8 11.0 10.0 8.7 6.6 9.6
Source 1: NOAA (humidity, dew point, records 1961–1990)[18][19]
Source 2: Arab Meteorology Book (sun)[20]

Municipal divisions and demographics

Streets of Port Said

Modern Port Said is divided into seven districts:[5]

Port Said's districts are further subdivided in to eight qism (police ward) which had a total estimated population as of January 2023 of 680,375 people:[3]

Anglicized name Native name Arabic transliteration Population

(January 2023 Est.)

Al Dawahi قسم الضواحي Aḍ-Ḍawāḥy 148,624 Qism (fully urban)
Al Arab قسم العرب Al-'Arab 60,251 Qism (fully urban)
Al Janoub قسم الجنوب Al-Janūb 41,901 Qism (fully urban)
Al Janoub 2 قسم ثان الجنوب Al-Janūb 2 38,273 Qism (fully urban)
Al Manakh قسم المناخ Al-Manākh 84,679 Qism (fully urban)
Al Manasra قسم المناصرة Al-Manāṣrah 5,587 Qism (fully urban)
Al Sharq قسم الشرق Ash-Sharq 34,679 Qism (fully urban)
Al Zohur قسم شرطة الزهور Az-Zuhūr 266,381




Colleges and universities

Port Said has a number of higher education institutions. Port Said University is a public university that follows the Egyptian system of higher education. The most notable faculties of the university are the faculty of engineering and the faculty of science. In addition, the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport is a semi-private educational institution that offers courses for high school, undergraduate level students, postgraduate. It is considered the most reputable university in Egypt after the AUC American University in Cairo because of its worldwide recognition from (board of engineers at UK & ABET in USA). Sadat Academy for Management Sciences is an Egyptian Public Academy under the authorization of the Ministry of higher education.


Port Said contains about 349 schools in all different educational stages between governmental, experimental, private language schools beside French historical schools.



Suez Canal
Mediterranean Sea
(Southward convoy waiting area)
Port Said
Port Said
lighthouse, fishing harbour, cruise terminal
Port Said (city), former headquarters
Port Said harbour, Port Fuad (city)
East Port, SCCT container terminal
E-class turning dock
Martyr Mujand Abanoub Girgis Bridge
Eastern lane: New Suez Canal (2015)[21]
El Ferdan Railway Bridge (under construction)
Tunnel Ismailia
New Ismala
Lake Timsah
Maadia Al Qantarah Street
Great Bitter Lake
Small Bitter Lake
Ahmed Hamdi Northern Tunnel
Martyr Ahmed El-Mansy Pontoon Bridge
Suez, Suez Port
Petroleum Dock, Port Tewfik
Gulf of Suez
(Northward convoy waiting area)
Red Sea
Navigable canal
Dock, industrial or logistical area
Village or town, feature
Railroad (defunct) with swing bridge

The port of Port Said is the 28th-busiest seaport for container transport, the second-busiest in the Arab world (narrowly behind the port of Salalah in Oman), and the busiest container seaport in Egypt, with 3,470,000 TEU transported in 2009.[22] The port is part of the Maritime Silk Road.[23][24] It is divided into:

The port is bordered, seaward, by an imaginary line from the western breakwater boundary till the eastern breakwater end. And from the Suez Canal area, it is bordered by an imaginary line extending transversely from the southern bank of the Canal connected to Manzala Lake, and the railways arcade livestock.

Navigation channels

Main channel
East verge channel

Approach area

Port Said Canal in 1880

Two breakwaters protect the port entrance channel: the western breakwater is about 3.5 mi (5.6 km) long, and the eastern breakwater is approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km).

Dwelling area

The Suez Canal Dwelling Area is situated between latitudes 31° 21' N and 31° 25' N and longitudes 32° 16.2°' E and 32° 20.6' E. where vessels awaiting to accede Port Said port stay whether to join the North convoy to transit the Suez Canal to carry out stevedoring operations or to be supplied with provisions and bunkers. The dwelling area is divided into two sections: The Northern Area is allocated for vessels with deep drafts. The Southern Area is for all vessel types.


Port Said is served by Port Said Airport located about 6 km (3.7 mi) away from city centre.

The airport was reopened in February 2011 after being modernised to be fit for international flights.[25] Scheduled flights from the airport ceased in 1996.[26]

Motor highways

There are three main highways that connect Port Said to other cities in Egypt:


The Port Said train station is on Mustafa Kamal Street and was built around 1904 when the Egyptian Railway Authority extended service in the region.[10]

There are frequent train services from Cairo, Alexandria and other main Egyptian cities to Port Said. The travel time between Cairo and Port Said is about four hours while the Alexandria – Port Said route can be covered in about six hours. Intercity passenger service is operated by Egyptian National Railways. Tickets can be reserved online using the Egyptian National Railways website.[27]


Ferry on its way to Port Fouad

Port Said is linked by ferry to its twin city Port Fouad which is considered the Asian part of this Afro-Asian governorate "Port Said" on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal, the ferry is used to cross the canal between the two cities, holding both people and cars as well (for free).[28] The time between the two cities across the canal by using the ferry does not exceed 10 minutes.

Other means of public transport

Public buses are operated by Port Said Governorate's Agency for Public Passenger Transport. Private Transport also are available referred to as Micro Buses (14 seat minibus). White and blue saloon car taxicabs are comfortable, asking reasonable prices. Earlier trolleybuses existed in city.



The Port Said Library at the time of its inauguration reached about 14,000 books and was supplied by encyclopedias and modern references.[29]


Port Said has about 11 theatres.[1]



Port Said has 23 parks which includes the Ferial Park (21,904 square meters), the Farma Park (12,469.4 square meters), the Khazanat Park (2,000 square meters), and the Aldawlia Park (8 Hektars).[2]


Al Masry Club Stadium

The main sport that interests Port Saidis is football, as is the case in the rest of Egypt and Africa, and Port Saidis are known for their enthusiasm in supporting the local team Al-Masry SC.

Al Masry Club Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Port Said. Built in 1954, it currently seats 17,988 and is used mostly for football matches, including the 1997 FIFA U-17 World Championship, 2006 African Cup of Nations, and 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup. [30] The 2012 Port Said Stadium riot took place there.

The second most popular sport in Port Said is handball, and the city has a club called Port Said Club that won many local and African tournaments during the nineties.

Port Said Hall is an indoor hall located in the Sports City in Port Said. It hosts competitions of handball, basketball, and volleyball, and was used for the 1999 World Men's Handball Championship. It holds 5000 people.

Hockey, swimming, and other sports are also practiced on a lower scale.


Among speakers of Egyptian Arabic, the Port Saidi accent is unique. It is also called Abu Alarabi and Bambooti Accent.


Beach of the Mediterranean Sea in Port Said
Headquarters of Suez Canal Authority in Port Said

Port Said is a main summer resort and tourist attraction, due to its public and private beaches, cosmopolitan heritage, museums, and duty-free port, beside the other landmarks like the Lighthouse of Port Said, Port Said Martyrs Memorial that has the shape of the Pharaonic ancient obelisks, and the building of the Suez Canal Authority headquarters in Port Said. Also, Tennis island situated in lake Manzaleh is a destination that attracts tourists to enjoy visiting this ancient Islamic city which was demolished during the crusades.

Ashtoum el-Gamil is a protectorate which is located 7km west of Port Said on the Port Said-Damietta coastal road. It is also where Lake Manzalah connects with the Mediterranean Sea. (In front of the mouth of the Lake is Tanees Island. The entire area is a very important place for birds.) Its area is 180 km2 and was established in 1988. Its main objective is to conserve the migratory birds. It is managed by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency .[31]

Nearby to El Gameel area, there will be a real estate mixed use project named "Downtown Portsaid". The project will cater to both residents and tourists as well as investors in the area, and is anticipated to be an attraction hotspot.[32]

Notable people

Twin towns and sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Egypt

Port Said is twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ "Egypt's new provincial governors: Who's who?". Ahram Online. Archived from the original on 21 January 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Egypt: Governorates, Major Cities & Towns - Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information". www.citypopulation.de. Retrieved 17 March 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Population estimates of the Arab Republic of Egypt by qism on 1/1/2023" (PDF). Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics. 1 January 2023.
  4. ^ "GDP BY GOVERNORATE", mped.gov.eg
  5. ^ a b "About - Administrative Division". portsaid.gov.eg. Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  6. ^ a b Port-Saïd : Architectures XIXe-XXe siècles
  7. ^ Bowen, John Eliot (1886). "The Conflict of East and West in Egypt" (PDF). Political Science Quarterly. 1 (2): 295–335. doi:10.2307/2138972. JSTOR 2138972.
  8. ^ Baedeker, Karl (1914). Indien. Handbuch für Reisende (in German). Leipzig: Karl Baedeker. p. 5. Die rasch anwachsende Zahl der Bewohner belief sich 1907 auf 50 000, darunter fast 11 000 Europäer aller Nationen, im übrigens Araber, Berber, Neger in buntem Gemisch.
  9. ^ Leeds, West Yorkshire Archive Service,Letter from Cornforth to Leeds Town Clerk Mitchell, 9 December 1918.
  10. ^ a b "Brief History of Port Said". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  11. ^ "On This Day: 1956: Jubilation as allied troops leave Suez". BBC. 23 December 1956. Archived from the original on 26 December 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  12. ^ A Presence without a Narrative: The Greeks in Egypt, 1961-1976 https://journals.openedition.org/remmm/12117?lang=en Archived 1 February 2022 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Consejos para la vida –". Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  14. ^ "الصفحة الرئيسية -السياحه". Portsaid.gov.eg. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  15. ^ Company List ›› List of Companies in Egypt ›› Companies in Port Said Archived 4 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine www.listcompany.org, accessed 10 April 2021
  16. ^ "Suez Canal Area Development Project – Rules and Regulations". www.sczone.gov.eg. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Port Said/El Gamil, Egypt". Voodoo Skies. Archived from the original on 24 April 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Port Said Elgamil Normals 1991–2020". World Meteorological Organization Climatological Standard Normals (1991–2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on 1 October 2023. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  19. ^ "Port Said/El-Gamil Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on 1 February 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Appendix I: Meteorological Data" (PDF). Springer. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  21. ^ "New Suez Canal". Government of Egypt (Suez Canal Authority). Archived from the original on 12 August 2015.
  22. ^ "Welcome to the Port of Hamburg". Hafen-hamburg.de. Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  23. ^ "A maritime Silk Road to peaceful seas". Archived from the original on 29 January 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  24. ^ "China's Maritime Silk Road Initiative". 22 July 2018. Archived from the original on 29 January 2021. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  25. ^ "Port Said Airport to be inaugurated in February". English.ahram.org.eg. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  26. ^ "Egyptair launches new route to Port Said from Cairo". Anna.aero. 3 August 2011. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  27. ^ "Transportation in Port Said". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  28. ^ Richardson, Dan (2003). Egypt. Rough Guides. p. 671. ISBN 9781843530503. Archived from the original on 13 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  29. ^ "history-intro". Archived from the original on 19 December 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak officially inaugurated the Library on Monday, March 21, 1995...
  30. ^ "Official Website :: Al Masry Sporting Club :: الموقع الرسمي للنادي المصري للألعاب الرياضية :: تأسس عام 1920 ::استاد المصرى". Almasryclub.com. Archived from the original on 4 February 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  31. ^ "Ashtum El Gamil Protected Area of Egypt". Touregypt.net. Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  32. ^ "Downtown Port Said - Waterway - Port Said - Egypt". www.cooingestate.com. Archived from the original on 28 April 2021. Retrieved 28 April 2021.

Further reading