The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) is part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi’s (DCT Abu Dhabi) Arabic Language Centre (ALC). Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) is continuing to offer its translation programme in 2023 as part of its commitment to advancing the cultural and creative ecosystem.

The Award is part of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi’s (DCT Abu Dhabi) Arabic Language Centre (ALC), and it organises the translation programme in collaboration with the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The programme aims to enhance knowledge and cultural exchange, and reinvigorate literary translation around the world, through the SZBA translation grant.

The SZBA is organising a workshop for translation from Arabic to English at the International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School in Norwich from July 23 to 29, which will be presented by the BCLT in collaboration with the National Centre for Writing.

Launched last year, the partnership with BCLT aims to reach the largest possible number of Arab translators residing in the United Kingdom and around the world, and also raise awareness about the translation grant provided to publishers. The initiative also aims to overcome difficulties in communication with publishers interested in translation, and to highlight the SZBA’s vision and objectives.

Dr Ali bin Tamim, ALC chairman and secretary general of the SZBA, explained that the grant plays an important role in driving translation activity around the world, and helps advance the status and influence of the Arabic language. This is in line with the ALC’s strategic objectives to position Arabic as a language of culture, science, and creativity at the international level.

“This important programme encourages innovation in translation, helping talented professionals in the field to refine their skills and access relevant experts and specialists – all with the aim of nurturing the literary scene and communicating Arab culture and language to the world. This is yet another example of the value of international partnerships, which allow us to achieve the SZBA’s wider goals while fostering greater cross-cultural understanding,” Dr bin Tamim said.

“Thanks to the continued support of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, the BCLT is excited to be able to offer another Arabic-English literary translation workshop at the International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School. This will be our first in-person Summer School since 2019, and we can’t wait to invite translators from across the globe to spend a week with us at University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. This is a wonderful opportunity for translators of Arabic literature to work closely with their peers, as well as award-winning authors and experts in the field of literary translation,” said Anna Goode, BCLT manager.

Last year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award-supported BCLT Summer School workshop focussed on translation and creative writing. The week-long programme was moderated by literary translator Nariman Youssef, arabic translation manager at the British Library, and author and media expert Haytham el-Wardany, and brought together writers and translators from around the world.The workshop was the first to be held in Arabic at the Summer School in more than a decade, and demonstrated the SZBA’s commitment to supporting the professional development of literary translators and promoting literary translation as an essential catalyst for cultural dialogue.

The workshop was followed by a series of events in the UK that focussed on Arabic literature, including a literary translation workshop with Sawad Hussain, a research seminar with Michael Cooperson titled French Word Games, “Untranslatable” Arabic, and Global English, and the workshop Arabic Discourse on Translation with Sawad Hussain, Tarek Shamma, and Myriam Salama-Carr.

Registration for the International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School in Norwich is open until 27 March. Workshops will be held in person for the first time since 2019. Sessions will be offered specialising in translation from Arabic, Japanese, French, and Korean into English, as well as focussing on literature from Taiwan, alongside sessions orientated around multilingual poetry and prose.