Arab world opens door to Western classics
Globe and Mail Update
December 10, 2007 at 4:02 AM EST
"It's been 375 years since Galileo published his earth-shaking Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, 336 since John Milton wrote Paradise Regained and nearly 40 since James D. Watson had an apparent international bestseller with The Double Helix, about the discovery of the structure of DNA. Amazingly, however, none of these books, and thousands of classics like them, has ever been translated into Arabic, the first tongue of more than 300 hundred million persons worldwide. Indeed, according to a 2003 United Nations report into human development in the Arab world, more books are translated into Spanish each year – 10,000 – than have been translated into Arabic in the previous 10 centuries.
"Now this situation is being rectified by the sheikhdom of Abu Dhabi, one of the seven Muslim United Arab Emirates, which last month officially revealed its plans to translate 100 epochal foreign-language texts into Arabic by the end of next year."