Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 29th April 2020: Euronews, Europe’s leading international news channel, met a team of student translators from the University of Mosul in the latest episode of Inspire Middle East. The team has translated more than 11,000 scientific articles and academic texts, and have added more than 10.1 million words to the Arabic Wikipedia to date.
Although Arabic is the fourth most spoken language amongst internet users, less than one per cent of online content is published in Arabic, which is why the students, along with the help of non-profit organisation, Ideas Beyond Borders, are on a mission to translate and add more Arabic content online.
In an interview with Euronews, Momen Mohamad, a student at the University of Mosul, and part of the translation project that has been running since 2017 said: “When some people try to seek for something in Arabic, especially if that knowledge stemmed from the English culture, it’s really hard. In this project we translated things that are really important and essential to our life such as economics, anthropology, linguistics, so these stuff we are studying now, for example in our university.' (sic)
Ameen Al-Jaleeli, Coordinator at Idea Beyond Borders also commented on the project saying: 'Knowledge for me, is the most influential weapon against regressiveness, against narrow mindedness and against radical thinking. So, getting this knowledge transferred into Arabic can hopefully make a difference in people’s minds.” (sic)
With an increasing number of Arab writers gaining international attention for their work such as the Moroccan author Leila Slimani whose best-selling novel Lullaby has been adapted into a movie and Oman’s, Jokha Al Harthi winning the prestigious Man Booker Prize for her book, Celestial Bodies, it is not only the Mosul University students who believe there is a need for more English content to be translated in to Arabic. Sharing this belief is Salwa Gaspard, Director of Notting Hill’s first Arabic bookshop, Al Saqi Books, who have been translating Arabic literature into English since the early 1980s.
Talking to Euronews from London, Salwa Gaspard said: “The Arab world is almost unknown, all they knew about it, was the discoveries of Egypt, the Orientalism etc, and after 9/11, the terrorists, so they didn’t really have a feeling of the real people, of the real problems of the people in the Arab world. This is what the translated literature conveys to them, and it has been going from strength to strength, because now many big publishers, it used to be only the niche publishers, who would translate Arabic fiction, now everyone is doing it, Bloomsbury and McMillan etc…” (sic)
The full interview, exclusive to Euronews, is available to watch on Inspire Middle East, the weekly programme that brings you unmissable stories from across a region bursting with new energy. Exploring cutting edge innovation, tech, fashion, lifestyle and culture, Inspire Middle East showcases new voices and vibrant storytelling from across the business and cultural spectrum, connecting people in the region with those around the world.
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