Ithra and Al-Qafilah magazine highlight Arabic language impact
The year’s World Arabic Language Day comes as a number of projects aimed at spreading the Arabic culture come to publication, including the “Mu’alaaqat for Millennials.”
As the most prominent means for introducing the proud character, scientific discoveries, history, and culture of Arabic speaking people, the Arabic language has had a profound impact on global culture. It is for this reason that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Dec. 18 as World Arabic Language Day — back in 2012 — and adopted Arabic as an official U.N. language alongside five other languages.
It was the Arabic language that preserved scientific discoveries, knowledge, and cultural histories from ancient times for other societies to learn from, and today the Arabic language bears that legacy in fostering cultural and civilizational communication among peoples through the transfer of knowledge, sciences, and other subjects.
The year’s World Arabic Language Day comes as a number of projects aimed at spreading the Arabic culture come to publication.
The most notable of these is an updated collection of pre-Islamic Arabic poems called “The Mu’allaqat for Millennials,” published by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in cooperation with Al-Qafilah magazine. In addition to the published English edition, the Mu’allaqat are being translated into three other languages. Another project, “Translating the World: Contemporary Poetry from Saudi Arabia,” project, strives to translate contemporary Saudi poetry whose words continue to inspire its audience.
Bandar M. Alharbi, supervisor of the Publications Unit and supervisor of the translation projects, said, “The theme of the UNESCO celebration of the world Arabic Language Day this year, ‘Arabic Language, a Bridge between Civilizations,’ is in harmony with these projects, which are supervised by Al-Qafilah magazine in partnership with Ithra.”
To reach the widest possible audience, Alharbi confirmed the current publication projects will expand, saying: “The introduction of poetry innovations to other cultures is certainly an elevated method of cultural communication. These poems represent the roots of Arabic poetry and writing and confirm the continuity and contemporary nature of poetic creativity.”
Alharbi added: “I cannot but describe the enthusiasm and passion demonstrated by the translators involved in the project as both stimulating and admirable. These projects are expected to be completed by the middle of next year. We will also look into the possibility of expanding these projects in the near future to include other languages and a variety of audiovisual multimedia."
Mu’allaqat and Dubai Expo 2020
Arabic language is also being featured as part of the Saudi Arabian pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020, within a cultural program called “16 Windows.” In this program, a number of Arabic Mu’allaqat are highlighted under the theme “Mu’allaqat in World Languages,” and the poems are selected to carry a deep literary and cultural content. Translations of these Mu’allaqat into various languages have been displayed on a huge screen for thousands of visitors to appreciate both the profound meaning, as well as the aesthetic values of these masterpieces.
These activities undoubtedly confirm Saudi Arabia’s persistent efforts to extend bridges of cultural communication by translating the masterpieces of Arabic literature to introduce their sublime messages to the whole world, as “with the glow of translation, we illuminate the world with poetry.”
Ithra celebrated the day by hosting two days of activities focussing on a particular form of Arabic literature, namely Maqamat, which contains aspects of both poetry and prose. The Ithra library also had special story telling for children with 9000 visitors attending the event.