An award for work on Arabic to Portugese translation has been used by Saudi Arabia to strengthen relations between themselves and Brazil.
João Baptista Vargens, a university professor, won the ceremony of the 6th Custodian of the Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Award for Translation at the Bandeirantes Palace, seat of the government of the state of São Paulo.
Saudi prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah was present to give an address, where he confirmed that because the award was granted in Brazil suggests that Brazilian-Arabic integration is very healthy.
Both the Prince and Faisal Muaammar, the general supervisor of the The King Abdulaziz Public Library, the library who organises the award, acknowledged the importance of the part played by translations as a bridge between different people. The award is recognition of intellectuals who promote knowledge and disseminate Arabic the world over. “I hope that this award will provide incentives to individuals,” said Abdullah.
Muaammar said: “We aim to foster a strong movement of translation from Arabic into Portuguese.”
Geraldo Alckmin, The governor of the state of São Paulo also gave a speech where he spoke about the connection between Brazil and the Arab world, mentioning that there are 600 words in Portuguese that are of Arab origin and that: “Arabic is seen as the language of culture, splendour, and science.” He also recalled the interest that the Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II, who reigned in the 1800s, had for the language and added that he translated part of the Arabian Nights as well as leaving the heritage of a library with 151 works in Arabic or about the Arabs.
The move by Saudi Arabia is the latest in a long line of initiatives to increase its relationships with other economic powerhouses like the USA, who share arms deals with, China who they share Oil trade with and the UK who they have long-standing governmental ties with that date back to the First World War.
The award distributes $1mn to the winners in five different categories. The Brazilian Vargens was the winner in the Translation Award for Individual Efforts in Translation, alongside Spanish professor Luis Miguel Pereza Cañada. Vargens is a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).
Vargens is the author of books Português para falantes de árabe (Portuguese for Arabic Speakers), Léxico Português de Origem Árabe (Portuguese Lexicon of Arab Origin) and Islamismo e negritude (Islam and blackness).
This relationship building is definitely a two way endeavour. Brazil’s status as a BRIC nation is as important as the huge natural mineral wealth of Saudi Arabia. Brazil is looking for more and more ways of increasing its ties with this region. The Middle East can be seen as an important market to Brazil as well as a major trading partner, being one of the main suppliers of oil and gas to Brazil. These imports are fundamental to the country’s industry since the national demand for it is increasing with industries such as car manufacturing and aerospace manufacture growing.