Translation Business in the UAE – Can Be Gained or Lost

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According to reports, the Translation business in the UAE can be gained immensely or lost, as this country is home to many companies and foreign residents, out of which a significant number are unable to read and write Arabic. This definitely highlights the importance of commercial translation services in the country.

Due to 85% foreign population English is widely spoken, besides Arabic, that is the official language. Other languages include Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Urdu, Tagalog, Persian and Tamil.

Many a times, the documents originate in another language but they necessitate to get translated into Arabic for recognition by the UAE courts. Almost 257,960 documents were notarized at Dubai’s courts, last year – a 12% hike from the previous year.

This growth is significantly noticeable for Islamic insurance that is known as takaful. The global gross takaful market is forecasted to be over US$14 billion, and is likely to reach above $20bn in 2017.

For FWU Global Takaful Solutions (Dubai-based firm), it is a problem to find linguistic experts with precise qualifications to accurately translate the documents from English to Arabic and vice versa.

In order to translate a business document of 35-pages from English to Arabic, (at a cost of nearly Dh4,000) it takes almost 4 to 5 days to complete. Then the client checks whether all the technical terms have been properly translated or not. In case, there exists a problem, the document is returned back to the translation company. After it is reviewed by the official body, the process is repeated again.

The amount of times these documents are sent back documents for corrections to places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia is just double the amount if these documents are returned in the UAE.

Mr. Thanvi, the chief operating officer of FWU Global Takaful Solutions, cited that the incorrect translation of the term “rider” is a common mistake. This term basically means an add-on to the basic insurance policy.

He adds that the term “rider” has been translated as the Arabic word rakeb. Rakeb has no relation to insurance. It just refers to riding a horse or bike. According to him, such technical errors occur because the translation companies usually deal with pure language rather than focusing on technical/professional terminologies.

There are 22 Arabic dialects in the region but as far as the standardization of terminology is concerned, there is no such standardization, despite the Arab League that monitors the growth of the language.

last year, a cabinet resolution was issued by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, on the legal translation profession. Under this, the applicants need to register with the Ministry of Justice as well as obtain official permits from authorized entities. Except the Emirati nationals, all other applicants must have a recognized degree in translation with more than five years’ experience.

However, according to one freelance translator, the level of qualification of some translators in the sector is still a significant issue in the UAE.

The laws, contracts and statutes get translated by non-professionals, thus, the translation is not accurate and upto the mark. The clients commit this big mistake as they blindly trust the non-professional translators with significant projects.

The Dubai-based company, Elaph Translation says that its translators must have a translation degree in compliance with the European quality standard, i.e. EN15038.

As per Ms Owais, who is the co-founder of Lotus Translation Services, certain subjects like economics, politics etc are not usually the part of the teaching process. Specialization in such areas is achieved just by thorough practice of many years.

When ‘The National’ contacted various UAE companies (which claim to have experience in legal translation), many companies were unwilling to offer information due to the qualification level of their employees.

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