The Sheikh Zayed Book Award (SZBA) at the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) – part of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi – has announced the co-organisation of a translation programme with the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) of the University of East Anglia and the UK’s National Centre for Writing aimed at strengthening cultural dialogue and exchange and shedding light on the Award’s translation grant.

Over the course of a year and a half (from January 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023), the initiative will provide access to a network of Arab translators in the UK and the world, raise awareness for the SZBA’s translation category, facilitate communication with publishers interested in translation, and shed light on the SZBA’s mandate.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award will co-organise an Arabic-to-English literary translation workshop during the 23rd edition of the British Centre for Literary Translation’s Summer School from July 17 to 22, 2022. The one-week programme brings together writers and translators from around the world, with literary translator Nariman Yousef, Director of Arabic Translation at the British Library, as moderator. SZBA will also support a mentorship programme for one emerging Arabic-to-English translator – a six-month orientation programme for an emerging professional literary translator.

His Excellency Dr Ali bin Tamim, Chairman of the ALC and SZBA Secretary-General, noted the importance of this new initiative to strengthen collaborative efforts to promote translation around the world and expand the scope of cultural exchange between the East and the West, by translating notable literary works that advance the Arabic language on the world stage and promote its greatest works among non-Arabic speakers,” H.E. explained. “This, in turn, supports the strategic objectives of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre to present Arabic as a language of culture, science, and innovation around the world.”

“Furthermore, this initiative allows us to identify new talents in the translation field and channel their capacities to enhance the Arab literary scene on the international stage through the channels of the British Centre for Literary Translation and the UK’s National Centre for Writing ,” H.E. bin Tamim added. “It will also facilitate contact with publishers interested in translation works through an extensive network of translators and a calendar of prominent events.”

Meanwhile, Professor Duncan Large, Academic Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, said: “At BCLT we are delighted to be collaborating with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in offering this exciting professional development opportunity to Arabic-English literary translators.  We look forward to hosting an Arabic-English translation workshop at our annual Summer School for the first time in over a decade, and this initiative will enable translators to attend irrespective of their circumstances.  We expect plenty of high-quality applications!"

In a statement released by the National Centre for Writing on the programme: “We are very pleased to participate in organising this programme with the Sheikh Zayed Book Award to offer a talented early-career Arabic-English translator a place on our Emerging Translators Mentorship Scheme in 2022. We thank the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for their support, enabling us to work together with BCLT to nurture a new generation of literary translators from Arabic into English.”

The long-term initiative will also provide access to an extended network of translators and academics in the United Kingdom to help encourage more interest in the translation grant and ‘Translation’ category of the SZBA, in addition to creating an alumni network of Arabic literary translators in the UK, developing an initiative in collaboration with the British Centre for Literary Translation, and publishing an Arabic anthology that includes works by graduates from the Centre’s Summer School, as well as interns.

The British Centre for Literary Translation and the National Writing Centre in the UK are both renowned and influential international stakeholders in the promotion of literary translation and creative writing. The former is a research centre affiliated with the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, where it supports a master’s degree in Literary Translation and an extensive doctoral research programme, while the latter is a hub for creative writing and literary translation in the UK.

The National Writing Centre’s Emerging Translators Mentorship Scheme has been held for 10 consecutive years, during which time it has mentored nearly 100 budding literary translators in more than 30 languages.