The 5th edition of the International Festival of Arabic Language and Culture is set to kick off on March 17, in Milan. The festival is organized by the Catholic University of Milan’s Arabic Language Research Institute (CARA) and the Language Service Center (SeLdA), as well as the Sharjah Book Authority.
The three-day festival features several lectures discussing the ‘Historic Dictionary of the Arabic Language’.
Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah, who is set to address the festival’s opening lecture, announced the completion of the first volumes of this historic dictionary during the Sharjah Book Fair two years ago. It is the first-of-its-kind reference that dates Arabic terms and their different uses over the past 17 centuries.
Attempts to form this dictionary started in 1932 under the rule of King Farouk of Egypt, who issued a decree to establish the Complex of Arabic Language in Cairo. However, the project was halted because of the grandness of the Arabic heritage, the high cost, and the size of the project (it covers the pre-Islamic era, heritage and poetry from the age of ignorance, and the successive Islamic periods including the modern Islamic era), in addition to other contemporary obstacles including the war of 1948, scarcity of resources, and the lack of will to proceed such a huge project.
The opening day will include keynotes by Head of the Catholic University of Milan Franco Anelli, Dean of the faculty of linguistic sciences and foreign literatures Giovanni Gobber, and Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri.
The second day of the festival includes three lectures: ‘The Historic Dictionary: Intersection of Languages and Cultures,’ will be moderated by Dr. Isabella Camera d'Afflitto from La Sapienza University in Rome.
Participants are Dr. Giovanni Gobber from The Catholic University of Milan, Head of Cairo’s Arab Language Complex Salah Fadl, Bernard Cerquiglini from the Francophone University Agency (AUF), and Dr. Mohamed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, secretary-general of Arabic Language Academy (ALA) in Sharjah.
The second lecture ‘The Historic Dictionary: Samples and Curricula,” will be moderated by Dr. Maria Cristina Gatti, head of CARA at the Catholic University of Milan. Participants are Dr. Elton Prifti from the University of Munich and Accademia della Crusca, Head of Al Khartoum International Institute of Arabic Language Bakri Mohammed al-Haj, Maamoun al-Wajih from Fayoum University and scientific director of the Historic Dictionary of Arabic Language, and Martino Diaz from the department of literature and foreign languages at the Catholic University of Milan.
The third lecture ‘The Origins of Words and Terminology Studies” will be moderated by Dr. Maria Teresa Zanola, head of the European Language Council (CEL/ELC) and professor at the department of literature and foreign languages at the Catholic University of Milan. Participants are Manuel Célio Conceição (University of the Algarve), Abdul Fatah al-Hamjari from the Hassan II University of Casablanca, and Head of Mauritania’s Arabic Tongue Council Dr. Khalil Al-Nahawi.
The third day features a fourth lecture entitled ‘Literature and History of Language’ that will be moderated by Dr. Wael Farouq from the department of literature and foreign languages at the Catholic University. Participants are Sobhi Hadidi, literary critic and translator (Syria/France); historian, writer, and journalist Dr. Fawwaz Traboulsi from the American University of Beirut (AUB); Dr. Saad al-Bazei, professor of comparative literature at King Saud University; and Dr. Paolo D'Achille from Roma Tre University and Accademia della Crusca.
A fifth lecture dubbed ‘Dictionary of Existence between Language and Poetry’ will be moderated by Dr. Francesca Corao from the LUISS Guido Carli University Rome. Participants are Abdullah Thabet, Saudi writer and poet; Ahmed Abdul Hussein, Iraqi poet and journalist; Rami Younes, Syrian poet and translator; and Kased Mohammed, Iraqi poet and translator.
The festival will also host an Arabic Book Fair in collaboration with Dar Al Mutawassit – Milan, an exhibition of Arabic calligraphy, and a screening of the movie Hepta by director Hadi al-Bagouri with Italian subtitles.