By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Bin Tamim: ‘Advancing Our Vision’Several notable developments come to us from the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre in the United Arab Emirates, as the center concludes its participation in the 53rd edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, which closed Monday (February 7).
The fair is produced by the General Egyptian Book Organization, and the Arabic Language Centre’s contribution was highlighted by an opening speech from Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, chair of the language center and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s secretary-general, in the conference titled Translating from Arabic: A Bridge Between Civilizations, Our Books Enlighten the World.
The center also was engaged in three of the conference’s workshops: “Arab Books in the Libraries of the World: Reality and Ambition, featuring Abdullah Majid Al Ali, acting director general of the national archives; “Difficulties and Opportunities of Translating from Arabic” with the journalist Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, the center’s acting executive director; and “What Does a Foreign Publisher Want and What Do We Nominate?”
The center’s programming also made it part of the show’s Arabic Language Cultural Retreat, which featured Bin Tamim along with the leadership of the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation, the Arabic Language Academy (based in Cairo), and the General Egyptian Book Organization.
Outcomes of the retreat discussions include recommendations regarding support to academies, centers, and organizations working with the Arabic language, translation, and Arabization.
Attendees at the retreat also urged publishing houses and the various news media not to submit to the dominance of social media, but to commit, instead, to the development of the Arabic language itself. Participants also called for investment in smart applications that focus on the Arabic language, with competitions to award the best application for teaching Arabic, in addition to establishing a “media watchdog” to monitor the Arabic language and its use in traditional and new media.
At the fair, the center showcased several publications from the Kalima Project for translation.
Taken as a whole, Bin Tamim said, “The extensive agenda of activities we prepared for the Cairo International Book Fair reflected the high regard we hold for this prestigious cultural event, the largest of its kind in the region.
“The center’s participation was a great success, further advancing our vision to support the translation and publishing sectors, and to drive the development of the Arabic language regionally and globally.
“To achieve this, we’re committed to participating in prominent events that bring together industry leaders and global cultural pioneers.”
New Partnership: Trends Research & Advisory
During the course of the Cairo fair, the Arabic Language Center signed a memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi-based research organization, Trends Research & Advisory.
The agreement is to see the two entities work together toward positioning Arabic as a leading language in the international arena.
ALC’s mandate is to promote the use of the Arabic language globally, helped by initiatives with partners. Abu Dhabi-based TRENDS Research & Advisory analyses opportunities and challenges at geopolitical and economic level, and to gauge the impact of the most pressing issues facing the world today. The two entities are to collaborate on scientific research, expert exchange programs, and joint scientific and research events with relevance to advancing the Arabic language.
In a prepared statement, Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali, the founding CEO of Trends Research & Advisory, is quoted, saying, “This agreement with the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre will open wider opportunities for cooperation in the scientific and cultural fields to advance the Arabic language.
“It will also expand into supporting cultural and research activities, ultimately achieving our common scientific and research goals in promoting joint efforts to spread the Arabic language and enhance its global positioning.”
The agreement is part of the center’s commitment to partnering with think tanks and research institutes in the field, and it calls for cooperation in translating books and scientific papers; exchanging experts and researchers to write in publications that the two organizations will put together; and participation in each other’s events.
New Digital Site
The center’s new site is online, created in Arabic and English under the direction of Dr. Ali Bin Tamim, chair of the Arabic Language Centre and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award’s secretary-general, as part of the UAE government’s “digital transformation” strategy. Improved navigation and display are featured in the site’s relaunch, with sections focused on topics including language and culture, research and reports, events, and more.
In the “Digital Library” section, there’s access to ebooks, audiobooks, and wajeez al kutu—summarized books—from the center’s collection. Meanwhile, the “Events” section of the site presents information related to notable conferences the center has organized or taken part in, including local, Arab, and international exhibitions.
As part of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre’s strategy to support children and youth literature, the site’s “Eloquent Child” section features a collection of children’s stories and YA books, in addition to educational songs. The site also presents the “Lexicon” service, a digital dictionary designed to support Arabic content, as well as a “Grants and Incentives” section, perhaps of special interest to publishers with details of annual grants the center offers to applicants with innovative projects that meet a strict set of terms and conditions.
The site features a “Specialized Library, Prizes, and Media Office” section as well as the traditional “Who We Are” section about the center, its role, objectives, and vision.
The “Research and Reports” section showcases recent studies by the center in fields related to the Arabic language, while “Lists” features two projects: One Hundred and One Novels introduces readers to the most prominent Arab novels of the 20th century, and One Hundred and One Books from the Arab Heritage highlights books that changed the face of Arab, Islamic, and world literature.
Under “Language and Culture,” visitors can find the “Creative Content” sub-section, which includes translated and original books, along with “Refereed Journals,” Arabic–language scientific, peer-reviewed journals that publish studies on the language, literature, culture, and important issues.
In a prepared statement, Al Tunaiji says, “We’re moving to the next phase of Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre’s evolution with the launch of a new-look Web site that reaffirms our commitment to provide resources of the highest standards in supporting our mission to promote the Arabic language globally.
“The site has been designed to offer users an innovative experience with easy browsing and a creative delivery of information, allowing visitors to seamlessly explore the center, its goals, events, initiatives, and activities.
“In keeping up with digital age advancements, we are demonstrating our commitment to the United Arab Emirates’ government’s ongoing digital transformation drive.”
Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.
Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory.