The big news coming out of Dubai last month in the world of education is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s announcement of an e-Learning Project challenge to translate 11 million words and 5,000 video tutorials of math and science into Arabic by 2018.
The project is part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), which is aimed at establishing a knowledge base for Arab students in the ever-important fields of math and science. The plan is for the material to be available online for free for more than 50 million students across the Arab region.
These kinds of exciting projects are important to preserve knowledge and education in Arabic and to stem the brain drain the Middle East has experienced in recent years, and fight unemployment at home. According to the World Bank, youth unemployment in the Arab region reached 29.73% in 2014, slightly more than half the world average. This project shows the power of translation in fighting those issues and improving our lives.
The Arab world has a long legacy of impacting the world with its translations. A great deal of what endured of the Ancient Greek writings on philosophy, science and mathematics survived due to their translation into Arabic, particularly during the early Abbasid era. But that impetus on translation has waned greatly since then. In the past 1,000 years, the total number of books translated into Arabic is less than those translated to Spanish in one year. This needs to change in the world of globalization, where the spreading of information is key to growth and success in the 21st century.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s challenge calls out to volunteers and experts in different fields, from teachers to researchers to scientists to devote their time to this translation. Tabeer hopes this is the first of many projects of this nature in the coming years!