A Potential Renaissance: Are the Arab Countries Doing Enough to Promote Translation?

Arabic Script

Earlier this month, Ursula Lindsey discussed the rise of translation in Arabic-speaking countries in this piece for the online publication Al Farner.  In this article, Lindsey comments on initiatives sponsored by Arab governments in response to the U.N.-sponsored Arab Human Development Report from 2003, which criticized the academic and cultural environment of these countries.  Focusing on translation, which was described in the report as “chaotic and static,” Lindsey writes:
“Although Arab governments condemned the U.N. report they also responded to it, particularly in the Gulf.  Many members of the United Arab Emirates have started translation programs, including Abu Dhabi, which began Kalima, a project that has translated 300 general knowledge books into Arabic so far.  Qatar established a Translation and Interpreting Institute in the collection of academic institutions known as Education City, in Doha.  Along with the efforts to translate important books into Arabic, there is also a groundswell to translate Arabic fiction and poetry into Western languages to make it more widely available.”
Lindsey goes on to discuss current problems that are hindering these efforts to promote translation, addressing the critique that these efforts do not go far enough.  Focusing on sociology and literature, she also summarizes the importance of translation in academia, as it enables the exchange of ideas between non-Arabic and Arabic speaking countries.
Readers interested in resources for Arabic translation and literature will find also find a list of links at the end of the article.

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