High quality translations in Arabic broaden horizons of young readers at 13th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival
Dr Alyazia Alsuwaidi, Emirati founder of Alfulk Translation and Publishing, says Arabic translation is crucial in raising intercultural awareness among young readers
Sharjah, May 21, 2022
“Translation is a responsibility, because it represents a culture through its literature,” said Alyazia Khalifa Alsuwaidi, the Emirati writer and illustrator who founded Alfulk Translation and Publishing and which is exhibiting a diverse collection of translated books in Arabic for young readers at the ongoing 13th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF).
The halls of Expo Centre Sharjah, where the festival is running until May 22, have transformed into a veritable maze of exhibition booths lined with Arabic children’s books by publishing houses from across the world. Alfulk is playing a unique role in this endeavour, displaying Arabic translations of children’s books originally written in a spectrum of international languages, including Icelandic, Spanish, Dutch, French, Italian and Korean.
According to Dr. Alsuwaidi, Arabic translation opens a window for young readers into the rich cultures of societies around the globe. “We aim to publish books that would not ordinarily reach the average Arab reader, and which promotes intercultural awareness,” she said.
She added that high quality must be integral to the ethos of any publisher of translations. “If the translation of a book is weak, children may get the impression that the literature from that culture is inferior,” she said.
A picture speaks a thousand words
After the success of Alfulk’s translated works, Dr. Alsuwaidi decided to turn the spotlight on Emirati writers and illustrators.
Alfulk is the first publisher to introduce the Arab market to silent books – wordless picture books that contain imaginative illustrations to allow children to construct their own narrative as they turn the pages.
The publishing house’s titles in the silent book category mainly comprise works by three female Emirati illustrators, Alia Al Badi, Ayesha Al Badi and Dr. Alsuwaidi herself.
Dr. Alsuwaidi’s repertoire includes Papa, Don’t Break My Heart, which features illustrations that mimic a child’s first artistic creations, inspired by the drawings of a young acquaintance of hers.
“Rather than my usual realistic style, I’ve made the illustrations very simple, to encourage children to draw and create,” she said.