Qatar Offers New Million Dollar Award for Arabic Translators

In Arabic, News by Dennis Abrams

Sheik Hamad Award for Translation

The Sheik Hamad Award for Translation and International Understanding, from Qatar, is bestowing more than a $1 million in prize money across 5 categories.

By Dennis Abrams

At arablit.org, Marcia Lynx Qualey looks at the announcement of a million-dollar award from Qatar for translators.

The Sheik Hamad Award for Translation and International Understanding “promises to recognize winners in five different categories:”

  • Translation from Arabic into English
  • Translation from English into Arabic
  • Translation from Arabic into another language than English (Turkish in 2015)
  • Translation into Arabic from another language other than English (Turkish in 2015)
  • The Achievement Award, given to an individual and/or institution with substantive contributions to building and consolidating the culture of peace and spreading international understanding.

In the first four categories, the winner will receive $100,000, second place gets $60,000, the third place is $40,000. Win the Achievement Award and you’ll take home $200,000.

The objectives of the award, as posted on their website, are straightforward:

  • To enrich the Arab culture with significant works of world literature, art and science, and to equally enrich the world cultural heritage with translations of creative Arab and Islamic cultural products
  • To encourage individuals, publishing houses, Arab and international organizations and institutions to show more interest in quality and creative translations from/into Arabic
  • To honor translators and appreciate their role in building bridges between nations and peoples of the world
  • To acknowledge contributions made by both individuals and institutions to spreading the culture of peace and international understanding
  • To improve the quality of translation from/into Arabic, based on excellence, accuracy and cognitive value

As Ms. Qualey wrote, the criteria used by the judges can also be found online, with points allotted for the “significance” of the translated work, and “translation stylistics and aesthetics.” But while an independent of Board of Trustees is cited, the members of the board remain unknown.

She writes:

Translation prizes are certainly welcome, especially when they raise the profile of translators and foreground the quality of translations. And hey, what translator couldn’t find uses for a check for $100K? (If they couldn’t, the UNHCR certainly could do.) But the bigger a prize is, the more the need for transparency. Hopefully, there will be more information about who’s judging the prize as it moves forward.

Submissions for the award are being accepted until September 20.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children’s publishing and media. He’s also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of “The Play’s The Thing,” a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.