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International Festival of Arabic Language & Culture in Milan anticipates future of language in era of AI

MILAN, 15th April, 2024 (WAM) — Reflecting the global cultural vision of Sharjah and the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the 7th edition of the International Festival of Arabic Language and Culture recently concluded in Milan, Italy.

Sponsored by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and organised by the Faculty of Linguistic and Literary Sciences and the Arabic Language Research Center at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, the festival, themed “Language and Artificial Intelligence: A horizon for the future or a constraint of the past?”, showcased the crucial role of Arabic as a conduit for cultural exchange and communication.

Attended by esteemed figures including Ahmed bin Rakad Al Ameri, CEO of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), Mr. Maria Cristina Gatti, Director of the Arabic Language Research Center, Muhammad Hassan Khalaf, Director General of the Sharjah Broadcast Authority, and Dr. Mohamed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, Secretary-General of the Arabic Language Academy, the festival welcomed 35 researchers from 18 countries, representing a diverse array of linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Notably, for the first time, Turkey participated alongside nine Arab countries: UAE, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Yemen, and Palestine. Additionally, 12 academics and university professors from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart contributed to the event.

Exploring the intersections of artificial intelligence with Arabic language and culture, the festival delved into topics such as the ethics and legislation of artificial intelligence, its role in transcending linguistic barriers through translation, its influence on literature and poetry organization, and its applications in language teaching and social communication. Discussions also centred on the potential of artificial intelligence in restructuring Arab heritage to enhance Arabic’s vitality in the modern technological landscape.

In his keynote address, Ahmed Al Ameri delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the festival, in which he stressed that pride in one’s own language is pride in all languages. He emphasised the intrinsic link between language, culture, and innovation, underscoring the necessity of linguistic diversity for cultural richness. He celebrated the Sharjah Ruler’s vision for the Historical Corpus of the Arabic language – a first-of-its-kind project that chronicles 17 centuries of development of the Arabic language that span five distinct periods in history from the pre-Islamic period to Islamic era to the modern day – which stands as a testament to Arabic language’s enduring legacy.

The festival marked a significant milestone with the unveiling of the first Italian translation of Al-Mu’allaqat’s poetry, a seminal work in the history of Arabic literature. Dr. Wael Farouk, Director of the Festival, highlighted this achievement, alongside sessions dedicated to exploring Sharjah’s successful digitisation efforts, artificial intelligence’s role in literary translation, and the future prospects of language and imagination in the era of AI.
Furthermore, alongside sessions exploring Sharjah’s successful digitisation efforts, artificial intelligence’s role in literary translation, and the future prospects of language and imagination in the era of AI, the festival facilitated scholarly discussions and presentations on various topics related to the intersection of language and artificial intelligence.

Dr. Mohamed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, Secretary-General of the Arabic Language Academy in Sharjah, reviewed the emirate’s experience in collecting and publishing the largest historical dictionary of the Arabic language as a successful example of digitisation.

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