Arabic Language Projects are Reviving the Golden Age of Translation

There was a time when knowledge flourished throughout Arabic Nations – the ‘Dark Ages’ may have been deep-rooted in Europe, but the Arab world was enjoying venerated scientific, literary and mathematical advances which would have a long term impact upon future generations.

Many of these advances were due to the translation of works from other languages, primarily Greek and Persian, into the Arabic language.

However, this ‘Golden Age’ was relatively short lived and we have since seen a steady decline in Arabic translations for medical, scientific, philosophical and educational purposes.

Many governments, across the Arab world, are beginning to realise the significance of such limited translation across cultures and have started to encourage and support initiatives for the translation of important works.

One such initiative, set up in 2007, with the help of the government of Abu Dhabi is called Kalima.

The Kalima project aims to bring together translators, publishers, literary agents, and authors in a bid to revive the ‘Golden Age of Translation’ by distributing a wide range of books to Arabic readers.

They seek to establish strong bonds between highly-acclaimed international authors and renowned publishing houses.

Since 2007, Kalima have published around 100 books each year as an aid to “encouraging the reading of Arabic materials and promoting scientific research in the Arab world by providing translations of the latest international publications in various fields, in support of the idea of establishing a world-class community library network in Abu Dhabi that would contribute to making it the most attractive destination to visitors”.

They also aim to support the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s active cultural movement to promote its role in both the local and international community.

The Kalima project is led by an expert team including the Acting Director of the National Library Department, Director of the National Library Programme Management Department and Director of the Kalima project along with a Judgement Committee.

There is also a specialist science committee which consists of ten members who are all considered to be “translation specialists and experts, taking into account multidisciplinary and multilingual aspects”.

In this way, Kalima are able to translate some of the most important books in the world across all disciplines, and can provide institutional support for Arab translators.

Via the Kalima website you can browse for books through their online book store or even register to work as a translator for them.

Kalima also have links to the Abu Dhabi International Translation Conference, a four-day event which usually takes place at the end of April. This year was the sixth conference with workshops based around translation in science, astronomy, mathematics, physics and chemistry.

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