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Kalima to build stronger Arabic content

Kalima to build stronger Arabic content

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Institutions in charge of improving the status of the Arabic language need to enhance the quality of content of works produced in the language. According to Discover Digital Arabia (DDA) statistics conducted in May 2011, the Arabic language ranked seventh among other ten languages, while English took the first place.

The survey highlighted that despite the fact that many national and international companies place Arabic language in their top ten languages in need of prioritised attention, there is still a lack of collaboration among several companies to improve and build stronger content.

The Abu Dhabi-based agency Kalima — which means ‘word’ in Arabic — launched an initiative to encourage translation, publication, and distribution of high quality works of classic and contemporary writing from other languages into Arabic.

“Regrettably, as an Arab nation, we are not producers of high quality work. The existing bulk of literature has been for a very long time geared towards easy public consumption, where the content is written badly in terms of language, topic, analysis,” Dr Ahmad Ali, professor of translation and Arabic studies, told Gulf News.

Funded by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), Kalima brought authors, translators, publishers and distributors together to make a wide range of books available to readers.

“There is an urgent need to increase awareness among individuals, institutions and governments to develop and use Arabic content in a better way,” Fayeq Owais, manager of the Arabic localisation team at Google, said earlier.

According to some DDA figures established in 2011 and 2012 consecutively, the Arabic language is expected to take fourth place by 2015 with over 300,000,000 Arabic native speakers and more than 80,000,000 internet users in the Middle East and North Africa region (Mena).

“Therefore, everyone should seek to cultivate the quality of Arabic language in order for it to be as acceptable as other languages provided. Collective efforts are needed to bridge the gap between the native Arabic speakers and the available content,” Owais added.

Although over 260 million views and more than two hours’ total downloads within the minute have been conducted by the Mena region, there is a lack in the current Arabic content, which has reached three per cent for 2012, DDA announced.

Thus, Kalima has reinforced distribution initiatives by supporting new channels and upgrading existing ones to promote and build a stronger Arab book industry.

“The UAE has initiated some very important translation projects that seemed reminiscent of the golden age of translation. Their importance cannot be overemphasised. The fear however, is that the enthusiasm dies down,” said Dr Ali.

Dr Ali also pointed out that the UAE translation initiatives can benefit greatly from the existing cumulative experience of professors of translation in the many universities within the country to ensure quality as well as developing the required skills of the translators working for such initiatives.