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As part of Sharjah Market Focus programme at The London Book Fair 2020 Professionals from around the world hone their Arabic & English translation skills at Sharjah WBC workshop. Organised by Sharjah World Book Capital in collaboration with the British Council, New Writing North, and Kalimat Group.

The Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 (SWBC) Office organised a specialised developmental workshop for 12 mid-career translators selected from seven countries. The course aims to boost translators’ skills in both Arabic and English and comes as part of Sharjah’s continued dedication to promote the translations movement into and out of Arabic.

The three-day workshop, ‘Tarjem’, was held in collaboration with British Council, Sharjah-based publisher Kalimat Group and New Writing North at the Al Rawi Cultural Café in Sharjah from February 13–15. The literary initiative is part of Sharjah’s Market Focus programme at the London Book Fair 2020, which will partly focus on the emirate’s growing role as a regional translation hub and its latest efforts in the local and regional publishing sectors specific to boosting Arabic–English and English–Arabic translations.

On the opening day of the workshop, participants were welcomed by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Head of Advisory Committee of SWBC; Vice President of International Publishers Association (IPA); and founder and CEO of Kalimat Group.

“I am a reader and a publisher, and especially love reading translated works. Translations offer us a unique opportunity to understand other cultures and get a glimpse of what is going on in different parts of the world. So, you being here, is helping bridge the gap that we really need in this part of the world, for people to understand more about the Arab world’s culture and in the process develop more empathy. So, thank you for playing a role in this. We really need it more than ever,” Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said.

British Council Country Director, Gavin Anderson, said: “This is an unbelievable 18 months for Sharjah. Not only are we celebrating Sharjah World Book Capital, but the emirate is guest of honour at six international book fairs around the world. So, this is an opportune time for the world to come here and gain deeper knowledge about the love of literature and reading that comes from this emirate. This is partly due to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and also of course because of the passion and leadership of Sheikha Bodour.”

“We are delighted to be partnering with Sharjah Book Authority for The London Book Fair 2020, which is coming up next month, where Sharjah has taken the important Market Focus seat. This workshop is part of Sharjah Market Focus programme of activities. We have brought you together from around the world to share experiences, learn from each other, and to help and support the increase of translation of works into and out of Arabic, so more people in the world can enjoy and share the pleasure of reading. We couldn’t have done it without the support of Kalimat Group, SWBC Office and Al Rawi,” he added.

Three-day workshop focuses on key literary and business aspects of translations

The workshop sessions were led by Elisabeth Jaquette, Jonathan Wright, Ahmed Al Ali and Boutheina Khaldi, and focused on the translators’ professional development, advancement of their practical translation skills in Arabic-English/English-Arabic, and offered opportunities to network with key industry professionals. During their three-day training, participants also heard from expert guest speakers representing the publishing and translation sector in the UK, the UAE and the Arab World.

The English-to-Arabic translators who participated in the workshop included: Omima Sobhi (Egypt), Haifa Abu Al-Nadi (Jordan), Samar Mahfouz (Lebanon), Zuwaina Al Tuwayya (Oman), Watfa Alassafeen (Syria) and Miled Faiza (USA). The Arabic-English team included: Raphael Cohen (Egypt), Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (UK), Katharine Halls (UK), Nema Alaraby (UK), Valentina Viene (UK) and Karen McNeil (USA).

The workshop was part of a broader five-day study visit to Sharjah, organised by SWBC and their collaborators. The visiting translators were familiarised with Sharjah’s rich history and cultural background on a special tour of the emirate’s landmarks including Al Noor Island and Heart of Sharjah.

The International Committee of the World Book Capitals at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) named Sharjah the World Book Capital 2019 in appreciation of its vital role in supporting books, promoting reading and adopting knowledge in cross-cultural communication. The title is given to Sharjah in recognition of its great efforts to foster reading as a robust culture at the regional and international levels. Sharjah is the first city in the GCC countries and the third in the Arab world and Middle East to win this nomination after Alexandria and Beirut.