Coimbra, Portugal, 6th October, 2022 (WAM) — During a discussion led by the Arabic Language Academy (ALA) as part of the activities marking the two days of “Sharjah Literary Days” in Coimbra, Portugal, Panel members highlighted the role of the Historical Corpus of the Arabic Language in strengthening cross-cultural communication among nations through its scholarly approach in documenting vital information about the history of the Arabic lexicon.
During the session entitled “Role of the historical corpus in intercultural dialogue”, the speakers also underlined the importance of the project in exploring the links with ancient cultures and languages.
The two-day event was organized by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) in partnership with the University of Coimbra, the oldest in Portugal and one of the oldest universities in Europe.
Panel members Dr. Mohammed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, Secretary General of ALA, and Abdulafattah Al Hajmari, Director of the Arabization Coordination Office in Rabat, Morocco, highlighted the pioneering role of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, in strengthening cultural cooperation between the emirate and international cultural institutions around the world, including the historic University of Coimbra.
During the session, Al Mosteghanemi said that the Corpus reveals similarities between the Arabic language and other important world languages, including some languages derived from Arabic and developed over the years.
For his part, Al Hajmari said that the historical Corpus of the Arabic language is not just for Arabs but benefits the whole world as the influences of the Arabic language have impacted the lexicon of other nations and cultures. He pointed out that Arabic has also borrowed words from other languages. At the same time, he says, words of Arabic origin took root in other languages, and have since evolved over the centuries.
During the sessions, Delfim Leão, Vice-Rector for Culture and Open Sciences at the University of Coimbra, said: “Four years ago, the University of Coimbra awarded His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his efforts in promoting culture, literature and history, regionally and globally.
The Vice-Rector added: “What struck us then was that receiving the honorary doctorate was not as important to His Highness as the firm conviction and belief in the importance of pursuing cross-cultural communication in various areas. The University has planted a palm seed on its campus in honor of His Highness’ visit, and we know how long it will continue to bear fruit. That said, Sharjah has shown us today and for four years, the fruit of its culture and its openness, which has exceeded our expectations.
During the discussions, Professor José Pedro Paiva, Director of the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of the University of Coimbra, stressed the need to teach the Arabic language both at the University of Coimbra and in other other universities in Europe. Professor Paiva cited the status of Arabic as a leading global language without which the world would not be able to understand the true history of the region and the world, or learn about an ancient civilization. which shares many historical similarities with the Portuguese and Europeans.
As part of the dynamic programming program of “Sharjah Literary Days”, the SBA organized a second panel discussion entitled “Emirati and Portuguese identities in local novels”, which brought together Ana Maria Machado and Maryam Al Hashimi. Speakers noted that historical novels are not exact depictions of history in a literal sense and may incorporate figments of the author’s imagination. Speakers emphasized the responsibility of novelists of this genre to become fully acquainted with the past and present and to develop the skills and ability to analyze historical events.
A third session, “Arabic Translations of Portuguese Literature”, heard from panel members Ghaith Al Hosani and Alberto Sismondini, who highlighted the importance of Portuguese literature in the Arab world and its cultural circles due to the high caliber of its intellects and authors, including José Saramago, famous writer and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature.
During the fourth round table, “The identity between the local and the global in theater scripts”, moderated by Paulo Silva Pereira, speaker Saeed Salim Al Hanki, said that all literary scripts are a reflection of predominant social values and challenges experienced directly or indirectly by writers. He noted that burning issues impacting society are often found in prominent literary works that tend to profoundly influence the global cultural and literary movement.
In the fifth session, Emirati poet and author Ibrahim Al Hashemi discussed “popular beliefs in Portugal and the United Arab Emirates“. During the session moderated by João Gouveia Monteiro, the Emirati author described the importance of local customs and traditions that embody great values and how these are transmitted from generation to generation.