Saudi Translation Initiative Brings Arabic Texts to the World

Tarjim, a new Saudi translation initiative, aims to translate the most important contemporary intellectual writings from Arabic into the world’s major languages.

According to an article online by the Arab Weekly, Saudi Arabia’s Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission launched the initiative known as ‘Tarjim’ (meaning translate) on International Translation Day (September 30th) in a bid to promote international cultural outreach.

Texts chosen for translation will include the latest international scientific, and intellectual articles written in the Arabic language, alongside literary texts of significance, with the aim of bringing Arabic content to a wider audience, helping researchers and Arabic language learners.

The initiative forms an element of Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ and came as part of the Saudi Cultural Minister’s efforts to bring Arabic works to the wider world.

It aims to “enrich Arabic content and deepen cultural exchange between the Arabic language and other major world languages” and was the first initiative to be announced last year by the cultural minister.

Vision 2030 includes a “Cultural Vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” which has set out the following three central objectives:

• Promoting culture as a way of life

• Enabling culture to contribute to economic growth

• Creating opportunities for international cultural exchange

The Tarjim programme reflects the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission’s belief in the vital importance of translation, how it enables broader cultural connections with other countries and people, and encourages an exchange of knowledge for the benefit of all.

Saudi’s Ministry of Culture website says that culture is “indispensable to our quality of life” and suggests the kingdom should increase the quality and quantity of its cultural activity.

It continues, stating “We’re proud of our rich cultural environment and talents with the potential to transcend the borders of our country to reach the world” and the Tarjim initiative should help achieve this aim.

Translation has always been played an important role in the Arabic world; early Muslims translated Greek philosophy into Arabic, contributing to the development of the culture, enriching human consciousness and promoting the Islamic religion around the world.

In more recent years, translation has been recognised by many Arab countries as a method of encouraging cultural understanding and advancing education in highly-technical subjects such as, science and technology. There have been numerous translation initiatives throughout the Arab world for these purposes including, the UAE’s Madrasa portal which has translated thousands of educational videos into Arabic for students.

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