Dossier: Arabic language

Arabic calligraphy (photo: picture-alliance/Tone Koene)

The Arabic language

A better understanding

Arabic is spoken in 22 countries, but people from different countries don't necessarily understand each other. The language is split up into numerous dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible. The Arab spring went a long way towards unifying the way Arabic is used in everyday life. Translators are working on an online dictionary to help standardise the language for business purposes. By Charlotte Schmitz and Guido ZebischMore

Hartmut Faehndrich (photo: Ruth Renée Reif)

Interview with literary translator Hartmut Faehndrich

"What I don't see is an on-going interest in Arabic literature"

Hartmut Faehndrich is one of the most renowned translators of Arabic literature in the German-speaking world. He has translated nearly 60 novels into German. In this interview with Ruth Renée Reif, he explains why Arabic literature is undervalued in the German-speaking worldMore

Sign and logo of the Hakawati bookshop in Amman (photo: Claudia Mende)

The Hakawati bookshop for children and young people in Amman

Huge appetite for exciting stories

Since opening ten years ago, the Hakawati bookshop in Amman has become an institution in the Jordanian capital. Nowhere else in the city offers such a wealth of books for children and young people. Claudia Mende took a look around this fascinating shopMore

Arabic calligraphy (photo: Fotolia/Ivan Montero)

The Arab world

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Arabic: the last tie that binds

In terms of politics, economics, religion and culture, the paths of the Arab states diverge. The once proclaimed unity between them has been consigned to the history books. Only one thing still binds them together: the Arabic language. By Kersten KnippMore

Ounsi el-Hage (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Obituary: Lebanese poet Ounsi el-Hage

One of the founders of Arab surrealism

Last month, the Lebanese poet Ounsi el-Hage died at the age of 77. Alongside Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish, he was one of the pioneers of modern Arabic poetry. An obituary by Suleman TaufiqMore

Jurji Zaidan (photo/image: Zaidanfoundation.org)

Jurji Zaidan's Arabic Historical Novels

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Educating and Entertaining the Public

By writing historical novels, Jurji Zaidan wanted to provide the common Arabic people with an accurate sense of their own history in an accessible, entertaining way. His novels were unavailable in English for nearly a century. But now, in the last two years, six English translations have appeared. By M. Lynx QualeyMore

Members of the Khat Thaleth project in Beirut (photo: PR/Sharebeirut.net)

The Arab Hip-Hop Sampler ''Khat Thaleth''

Looking for a Third Way

The hip-hop sampler Khat Thaleth is a compilation of the work of artists from across the Arab world. Contrary to what one might expect, although they rap about the revolution, they do not necessarily take the side of the rebels. Jannis Hagmann reportsMore

Hadiya Hussein (photo: private copyright)

Interview with Iraqi author Hadiya Hussein

''I feel closer to my country when I'm away''

Iraqi author Hadiya Hussein has been away from Iraq for more than a dozen years, yet her fiction is still filled with its concerns. Her 2004 novel "Beyond Love", recently published in English translation, is full of exile, separation, and love. Hussein talked with M. Lynx Qualey about home, memory, and how living outside the country affects her writingMore

Lina al-Abed (photo: Irmgard Berner)

Interview with Filmmaker Lina al-Abed

''I Believe in the Syrian People''

Lina al-Abed is a journalist and filmmaker who left her home in Damascus, Syria, to start a career in Beirut, Lebanon. In this interview with Irmgard Berner, she talks about women in the Arab film business and how the Syrian revolution has already in some ways liberated SyriansMore

Etel Adnan (photo: Norma Cole)

Interview with Etel Adnan

''I React to What is Happening in the World''

Etel Adnan, the grand dame of Middle Eastern literature, is the epitome of cosmopolitanism: throughout her life, she has oscillated between one country, one language, and one genre and another. dOCUMENTA (13) dedicated an entire retrospective to this exceptional poet, writer, and painter. Vera Kern travelled to Kassel to meet the 87-year-oldMore

Elias Khoury (photo: dpa)

Elias Khoury's Novel ''Yalo''

The Word and the War

More than twenty years after the end of Lebanon's civil war, the conflicting parties can still not agree on a single narrative of events. With "Yalo", Elias Khoury has written a magnificent novel on the Lebanese struggles for history. By Sonja HegasyMore

Youssef Ziedan (photo: Doris Poblekowski)

Youssef Ziedan's Novel ''Azazeel''

In Case of Doubt, Choose Doubt

Youssef Ziedan's "Azazeel" was awarded the renowned Arab Booker Prize in 2009. Our reviewer Andreas Pflitsch says that this historical novel is a plea against religiously motivated violenceMore

Mansoura ez-Eldin (photo: © Mansoura ez-Eldin)

Mansoura ez-Eldin's ''Beyond Paradise''

Dark Family Secrets on the Nile

A book by the Egyptian writer Mansoura ez-Eldin has been published in German for the first time. In it, the novelist relates a family saga set in the landscape of the Nile Delta. But as a work that first appeared in pre-revolutionary 2009, does it have any relevance now? Axel von Ernst finds outMore

Fuad Rifka (photo: dpa)

Obituary for Fuad Rifka

The Advocate of Lyrical Attentiveness

The renowned Lebanese poet Fuad Rifka died last Saturday at the age of 80. Alongside Adonis and Mahmud Darwish he was one of the great revivers of Arabic poetry, yet among those of his own generation he remained unique until the end. An obituary by Stefan WeidnerMore

Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti, the 7th Maqāma of Maqamat al-Harīrī dating from the mid-10th century, with a 13th century illustration

Rethinking World Literature

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The Arabic Novel in Non-Western Eyes

Anthologies of "world literature" have often used the term to market a largely Western canon. But isn't western literature still implicitly regarded as the measure of all things? And are we not overlooking other literary values out of sheer ignorance? By Fakhri SalehMore