Awards: Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre and Zayed Award Enter a UK Translation Partnership

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The new accord highlights the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s translation prize and funding and supports the UK’s National Centre’s work.

The British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia will see its summer school in July enhanced with an Arabic-to-English workshop organized by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award and Norwich’s National Centre for Writing. Image: University of East Anglia

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Creating an Arabic-to-English Workshop for July
The United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre has announced today (January 19) a new translation program, co-organized by its Sheikh Zayed Book Award with the British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia and Norwich’s National Centre for Writing.

The Arabic Language Centre’s intent is to strengthen cultural dialogue and to promote the Zayed Award’s translation grant opportunities as well as its translation category of annual honors.

Set for 18 months and running to the end of May 2023, the newly announced program is expected to open up access to Arab translators in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, while raising the visibility of the Zayed Award’s translation grant program.

readers are very familiar with all the parties working together here. England’s National Centre for Writing is set in Norfolk and has built a strong translation element to its programming, under Kate Griffin’s direction as associate head of programs for the center.

The British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia worked with the National Center, you may remember, in setting up a three-year partnership that involves the University of California at Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities and Tokyo’s Waseda University.

As a centerpiece of this new program, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award will jointly organize an Arabic-to-English literary translation workshop during the 23rd edition of the British Centre for Literary Translation’s summer school, July 17 to 22, for which applications now are open.

The one-week program is expected to bring together international writers and translators with literary translator Nariman Youssef, director of Arabic translation at the British Library, as moderator.

The Zayed Award will also support a mentorship program for one emerging Arabic-to-English translator and a six-month orientation program for an emerging professional literary translator.

Bin Tamim: ‘Expanding the Scope of Cultural Exchange’

Dr. Ali Bin Tamim

In a prepared statement Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, chair of the Arabic Language Centre and the Zayed Award’s secretary-general, is quoted, saying, “This initiative will strengthen collaborative efforts with our partners in the UK to promote Arabic translation around the world.

“It will expand the scope of cultural exchange between the East and the West by translating notable literary works that advance the Arabic language on the global stage and promote its greatest works among non-Arabic speakers.

“This supports objectives of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre to present Arabic as a language of culture, science, and innovation around the world, allowing us to identify new talent in the translation field and create an extensive pool of international translators.”

Duncan Large

Duncan Large, a professor in European literature and translation at East Anglia, is the academic director of the British Centre for Literary Translation.

He describes the program’s satisfaction in the chance to collaborate with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award “in offering this exciting professional development opportunity to Arabic-English literary translators.

“We look forward to hosting an Arabic-English translation workshop at our annual summer school for the first time in more than a decade, and this initiative will enable translators to attend, irrespective of their circumstances.

“We expect plenty of high-quality applications.”

Kate Griffin

And Griffin says the National Centre is fully onboard with this new development “in organizing this program with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award to offer a talented early-career Arabic-English translator a place on our Emerging Translators Mentorship Scheme in 2022.”

Publishing Perspectives readers will recall that we had word in October of that program’s mentorships for 2021-2022. Like the TA First Translation Prize administered by the Society of Authors, this is another program founded by the generous translator, author, and editor Daniel Hahn. The program, which has passed its first decade of operation, reportedly has engaged with 87 translators working in at least 30 languages.

“We thank the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for its support,” Griffin says, “enabling us to work together with the British Centre for Literary Translation to nurture a new generation of literary translators from Arabic into English.”

Both the Zayed Award’s translation grant and the translation category (one among nine categories of honors) are expected to benefit from this cooperative arrangement. It’s also hoped that it will create an alumni network of Arabic literary translators in the UK, develop an initiative in collaboration with the British Centre for Literary Translation, and publish an Arabic anthology that includes works by graduates from the Centre’s summer school, as well as interns.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature and the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre is here, and more on translation is here. More from us on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here, more on the National Centre for Writing is here, and more from the United Kingdom’s market is here

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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