Sharjah ruler’s works now in Malayalam

    By Malavika Vettath, IANS,

    Sharjah : Fulfilling demands by academics and scholars in Kerala, three books by Sharjah ruler Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi have been translated and released in Malayalam, a language spoken by a large number of Indian expats in the UAE.

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    “India and Sharjah have very good relations and both sides are keen to know more about each other. Some academicians and researchers from India had come and expressed interest in the works of His Highness being translated into Malayalam,” Yousef Aydobi, director of Al Qassimi Publications, told IANS here.

    “The two sides will know each other better through books and writings of His Highness,” he added.

    The novels released by Al Qassimi Publications at the just-concluded Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) are: “The White Sheikh”, “A Memorandum for Historians on the Innocence of Ibn Majid”, and “Deep-Seated Malice”.

    The 2002 book on Ahmed Ibn Majid, a 15th Century navigator originally from the region now called Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE, being translated into Malayalam is significant as he was widely thought to have guided Vasco da Gama in his path through the Indian Ocean. Sheikh Sultan offers proof that it was a Christian-Gujarati from India who guided Vasco da Gama to India.

    “Ibn Majid was a big problem for both sides as far as history goes. His Highness was worried about this and he actually went to Portugal to the library where Vasco da Gama’s diary is kept and got it translated to prove Ibn Majid’s innocence,” Aydobi explained.

    A prolific writer known for his passion for history, the Sharjah ruler always aims to rectify many historic hypothesis that were wrong about the Gulf and Arab Muslims after colonialism, he said.

    Aydobi added that works of Sheikh Sultan have earlier been translated into Indian languages like Urdu, Marathi and Bengali.

    Mohan Kumar, external affairs executive of SIBF, said there is an increased interest in the works of Sheikh Sultan, who is also a member of the UAE Supreme Council, with former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam praising his work.

    “Now they (the publishers) are thinking of more serious translations into Malayalam.there are talks with major publishers to get more of His Highness’ works translated. He is keen that they can be read by maximum number of people,” Kumar said, adding that apart from English, the Sharjah ruler’s works have been translated into languages like German, French, Russian and Chinese.

    Malayalis form a large chunk of the 1.75 million Indians in the UAE.

    Sheikh Sultan’s historical books are always supported by documents and he diligently verifies the accuracy of information and events included in his books, the SIBF said in a statement.

    The “White Sheikh”, originally published in Arabic in 1996, tells the story of events that took place in early 19th century. It narrates the tale of an American boy, Johannes Hermann Paul, who found himself on board a ship coming from Salem city in the US that landed on the coast of Oman. It captures the story of how the boy was adopted and brought up by Sheikh Mohammed bin Aqeel, who was a reputed merchant in the Red Sea. Named Abdullah by Sheikh Aqeel, he succeeded his adoptive father and became a Sheikh in the Dhofar Province.

    “Deep-Seated Malice”, published in 2004, chronicles an important era of UAE history, with a specific focus on the struggle of Al Qawasim against the colonial Portuguese leader Afonso de Albuquerque.

    “The three books form an important addition to the Malayalam library on the region’s history, which has always attracted researchers in Indian universities,” the SIBF statement said.

    (Malavika Vettath can be contacted at [email protected])