NEW DELHI, India, 8th January, 2019 (WAM) — The Emirates Publishers Association, EPA, has delivered a panel discussion themed Translating our Emirati Stories to the World: Challenges and Opportunities in an Era of Globalisation and Digital Literacy’ on Tuesday at the 27th edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF 2019), where Sharjah is participating as a guest of honour.
Speakers Jamal Al Shehhi, Founder and General Manager of Kuttab Publishing House; Abdullah Al Kaabi, Manager of Ramsa Institute; and Iman Ben Chaibah, Founder of Sail Publishing,highlight their personal experiences in the field of publishing and translations to highlight the growth translations movement has experienced in the past decade or so, and how digital technologies have facilitated content produced by Emirati and other Arab authors – translations or otherwise – to reach to a greater number of readers worldwide.
Moderated by Majd Al Shehhi, the session also shed light on the challenges Arabic language faces in the translations space when compared to other more developed markets in the West, especially Europe.
“The translations movement to support Emirati writers is well under way in the UAE and beyond, but we need to still do more”, said Al Shehhi comparing it to the strong translations scene in Europe. “Translations also takes a backseat because publishers are more preoccupied with regular publications. 70 million books are published each year on an average. Also, Arabic language translators sometimes get tired of the competition they face from Western markets, since the industry is a lot more vibrant there.
“That said, the translations movement is on the rise in the UAE and wider region, and we would like to go deeper into Indian and Chinese markets. I am very impressed with the way the Chinese have preserved their culture. We, in the Emirates, must find our own way to do the same.”
He also emphasised on other mediums for cross-cultural exchange that take precedence over translations. “The multimillion-dollar cinema industry, for instance, is a much more popular medium for cultural exchange and is often more attractive to audiences.”
Al Kaabi also presented his personal experience in the translations field, saying: “We have learnt that it is the most important to understand specific cultural contexts while translating texts. The role of a translator is to build a bridge between cultures. If I am translating a Spanish text from Latin America, for instance, I must have an in-depth understanding of the context within which the work in question was written.”
Ben Chaibah highlighted the way her publishing house has been integrating technology into their content production to cater to the rising number of digitally literate audiences who want to access books on iPads, Kindles and other digital devices, especially when they are on the move.
“To keep abreast of latest consumption patterns, we meet as many different publishers as possible. Expanding not just our readership, but our business network is essential to the way we work because it allows us to share expertise and present content in a way that is desirable to the reader.
“E-publishing has countless advantages, and that is why our initial focus at Sail was on strengthening our digital publishing infrastructure. Some of our titles are downloaded on Amazon and Jamaloon more than thousand times a day; by Arabic language readers around the world. Isn’t that amazing?” she remarked.
Panelists highlighted the importance of need-based publishing for businesses to remain profitable, and observed that they usually apply the Print-On-Demand method. “The publishing market is very competitive, which requires us to stay alert and keep trying new and innovative ways to reach out to our target market,” noted Al Kaabi.
They thanked Sharjah’s and the UAE’s cultural initiatives like the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), who under the leadership of Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Vice President, International Publishers Association (IPA), has been protecting the rights of Emirati publishers along with an extensive range of services and opportunities to assist them with their business skills, knowledge of the industry, promotion of their books through local and international book fairs, and so much more.
They also mentioned the key role played by the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which offers Emirati and Arab authors as well as all participating publishers an excellent platform to connect with readers and showcase their content.