Kalima takes part in meeting of GCC Advisory Board

bin Tamim

ABU DHABI – Kalima, the translation initiative of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, participated in a meeting of the Advisory Board of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Wednesday. The meeting was dedicated to unify the efforts of member states in the areas of translation, ‘Arabisation’ and the consolidation of the Arabic language.
The meeting was conducted as a direct result of decisions and planning undertaken by the Supreme Council of GCC states during their thirty-first session which was held in Abu Dhabi last December.
The member states commissioned the Advisory Board to study the progress made by the Gulf Arab States in their efforts regarding translation, ‘Arabisation’ and the preservation of Arabic culture.
Kalima was represented by Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Director of Kalima, ADACH's translation project.
A number of different groups were represented during this meeting including officials representing all universities, translation and ‘Arabisation’ centers in the GCC zone and a number of governmental and private institutions concerned with translation in the Gulf Arab region. Topics included in this meeting were: “The Center for Translation at King Saud University in Riyadh", "The National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters in Kuwait", and the translation center of the “National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage in Qatar.” Also present were members of the Advisory Body, entrusted with the practical applications involved in this work.
Key issues discussed during this meeting included; the importance of consolidating the status of the Arabic language amongst other languages and developing the teaching of Arabic, and tackling the problems that lie therein. The unification of the GCC’s efforts in translation, and the need for increased focus in the Arab Gulf States, were also considered.
During the meeting several issues were raised and the possible obstacles facing translation in the GCC were explored. The importance of raising the level of translation, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in the Gulf Arab region, through supporting ‘Arabisation’ and the status of the Arabic language in the member states, was also explored. The limitations of such an undertaking were noted, and possible solutions evaluated.
The meeting also addressed the importance of scientific education in Arabic, and considered the history of the Arabic language with regard to its ability to include and acknowledge all the sciences.
Dr. Ali bin Tamim stressed "the shortage suffered by the translation movement in the Arab World, due the scarcity of outstanding books translated from other languages into Arabic, deprives Arab readers of the ability to consider the works of the greatest authors and thinkers throughout history, and denies them the benefit of this knowledge."
International reports, such as the Human Development Report issued by UNESCO in 2003, found that a mere 10,000 books have been translated into Arabic from the Abbasid Caliph al-Maamun era until 2003. This is the same number of works translated by Spain in one year and less than one fifth of the volume translated by scholars into the Greek language. The report further noted that Japan translates fifty times the number of books translated by all Arab countries.
Dr. bin Tamim stressed the importance of uniting efforts to fill the shortage of texts translated into Arabic. He noted, “The Arabic language needs more attention and appreciation, given its rich vocabulary, great contributions to heritage and the large number of Arabic speakers worldwide who are eager to read world literature in their mother tongue.”
Dr. bin Tamim called for increased support of the translation projects in the GCC, in order to establish an Arab cultural and scientific renaissance that encompasses the various branches of human knowledge. He proposed that the cornerstone of this knowledge lies in the translation of literature.