The theatrical works of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, are set to reach a new audience.
Al Qasimi Publications, the publishing group supervising the literary corpus of Sheikh Dr Sultan, has launched an initiative to translate his plays into English.
The project aims to compile English translations of all 11 of his dramatic works, including The Case, Reality is a True Replica and Alexander the Great, in a boxed collection. The set will also feature QR codes that give readers access to recorded performances of the plays.
The first of Sheikh Dr Sultan’s plays, The Return of Hulagu, is the only one of his dramatic works that is currently available in English. The work, published in Arabic in 1998, will be the first title in the coming collection.
The Return of Hulagu is named after the Mongol ruler and grandson of Genghis Khan, who effectively ended the Abbasid Dynasty after the 1258 siege of Baghdad.
In his introduction to the play’s first edition, Sheikh Dr Sultan, who is also a member of the Federal Supreme Council, said he saw similarities between what had happened to the Abbasid Dynasty before its fall and the state of the Arab world before the turn of the 21st century.
“As if history is repeating itself,” he wrote.
The English version of The Return of Hulagu was – as all subsequent translations of Sheikh Dr Sultan's works will be – created by experts who specialise in Arab dramatic works, taking into account its "artistic and aesthetic values", Al Qasimi Publications said.
Though there is no confirmation as to when the boxed collection of English works will be published, Sheikh Dr Sultan's 2008 play Nimrod – based on the biblical king and great-grandson of Noah – will be presented in both English and Arabic at the Sharjah Performing Arts Academy in February. The play will be directed by the academy’s executive director, Peter Barlow.
“It is very important that the plays of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi be translated into several languages, and adding translation into English will ensure that more of his plays are presented around the world,” Barlow said.
Barlow said Sheikh Dr Sultan's contributions to Arab theatre are well known across the region and are evidence of “his extensive knowledge of theatrical form and structure”, as well as the region’s history.
Besides his theatrical plays, Sheikh Dr Sultan has also published several memoirs and historical works, including My Early Life and Taking the Reins, both of which are available in English. His works have been translated into several languages, including French, German, Spanish, Russian, Hindi and Malayalam.