Since 2011, the Sharjah Book Authority has been offering grant support for publishers looking to acquire rights while at the Sharjah International Book Fair. The grant program intends to facilitate cross-cultural exchange and offers various levels of funding support to Arab and foreign publishers for the translation of literary works into various languages. The support is generous, with as much as $4,000 available for general titles and $1,500 for children’s books. Overall, the fund supports up to $300,000 worth of grants each year. To date, over 500 books have been supported by grants. In 2021 – 2021, 90 different publishers and professional organizations were awarded grants, including a variety of well- known publishers from the Middle East, such as Lebanon’s Arab Scientific Publishers and the American University of Cairo Press, and others from further afield, including Textofilia Ediciones from Mexico City and Book Art Nepal.
In addition, starting in 2016, the SBA began offering the Sharjah Translation Award, also known as the Turjuman Award. The award “aims to promote Arabic titles globally by encouraging international translators and publishers to pick up titles written by renowned Arab authors and translate them for audiences worldwide, thereby contributing to global appreciation of Arabic literature and enhancing cross- cultural communication,” according to the organizers.
The Turjuman Award is open to international publishing houses which have published translations of an original publication in Arabic. Publishers may submit more than one work for the jury’s consideration each year. It offers a cash prize of AED 1.3 million ($350,000), with 70% of the prize money to the foreign publishing house that holds the translation rights and 30% to the Arab publishing house that published the first edition of the book.
Past winners of the Turjuman Award include Spanish publishing house Editorial Verbum for translating and publishing One Thousand and One Nights; France’s Actes Sud for a translation of The Nature of Despotism by Syrian author Abdul Rahman Al Kawakibi; and Italian publisher Edizioni E/O for its Italian translation of the novel A Small Death (Mawt Sagheer) by Saudi author Mohammed Hasan Alwan. In 2021, the Turjuman Award was given to Brazilian publishing house Tabla for its Portuguese-language edition of Eleven Planets by the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.