Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

Blind researchers no longer have to be accompanied when looking through references and books to complete their scientific papers or just when reading. Within weeks, they’ll be able to do all that on their own as a large number of books and references in Braille become available at the Egyptian National Library. Even more significant is the fact that they can request specific references to be translated to Braille using a printer at the Library.

Dr. Ahmad Shawky, head of the library, said to Al-Hayat, “The Library is following a methodical plan to make its resources available to all groups, including the visually impaired. Their section is being developed to include a library of the most well-known books and references, whether written in Braille or audio materials, as part of a greater plan to digitize the different contents of the library, including books, references, scripts,  documents, regular publications, as well as music and audio materials.”

The Hall of the Visually Impaired is one of the halls within the Special Groups Department of the Library (established in 1870). There is also a section for art and another for music but they weren’t very active. The Library is working to change that by not just limiting the services to reading and instead, extending them to include courses and workshops for the visually impaired. This direction is reminiscent of another undertaken by the national media organization Akhbar El Yom when it released the first general publication in Braille directed toward the visually impaired. It is also worth noting that the content writers of Akhbar Braille are visually impaired. The first issue was released last March.


This is a translation of an Arabic article by Rihab ‘Ulaiwah and was published on Al-Hayat Newspaper on 8 July, 2017.

Poem Translation: Incomprhensible by Deek al-Jin

Translations, Uncategorized

عصيّ على الفهم..

بغرغرة الحوت يشعر بالموت يجري مع الدم..
وتمنعه سنوات من العنفوان العظيم بأن يستحيل طعاما ..
وأن يغدو منهشة لصغار السمك..
فيجنح في كبرياء مهيب..
نحو شطّ غريب ..
يموت عليه وحيدا..

ببؤس الحمامة حين يختطف القط روح زغاليلها في الظلام..
ويقعدها الجبن عن أن تحاول إنقاذ تلك العيون الصغيرة ..
تلك الضلوع الكسيرة..
فتجلس رابضة فوق غصن قريب..
تراقب هذا العشاء الأخير بقلب محطم..

بكل الأسى الذي يسكن صدر حصان أصيل..
ألقت به الريح ..
بعد سنين الفحولة..
بعد عصور البطولة..
في يد سائس بائس يعرضه في مهرجان ملون..
ليصبح تسلية للصغار ..

بحزن الفدائي يجلس فوق حطام ربوع صباه..
يعانق بارودة باردة..
يعض على الشفة الجامدة..
يحاول أن يتذكر ما كان قبل الطغاة وقبل الغزاة وقبل انهيار سماء الوطن..
يفكر فيها وفي أمه العاجزة..
أما زالتا حيتين؟
أما زال في العمر متسع للأمل؟
يحدق نحو السماء ..
فيدرك أن قد لا يعود ..
وإن عاد قد لا يراها..
وقد لا يرى أمه..
يعانق بارودة باردة..
ويعض على الشفة الجامدة..

بحزن عصي على الفهم.. آتي إليك..
بقلب عصي على الفرح .. آتي إليك..
بنفس تمور كما الطير في لحظات النزاع الأخيرة.. آتي إليك..
فلا تتركيني..


Gargling, the whale senses death running through his blood

Memories of his heyday forbid him from turning into food,

Into a feeding ground for little fish

So he flees with majestic pride

Toward an unknown shore

And dies there, alone



With the misery of a pigeon whose babies’ souls a cat kidnaps in the darkness

and whom cowardice forces into surrender instead of trying to save those small eyes,

those broken ribs

So she sits idly on a nearby branch

And watches this last supper with a broken heart


With all the woefulness in a thoroughbred’s heart

Whom the winds threw

After years of strength

And eras of heroism

in the hands of a miserable manager

who puts him on display in a colorful festival

as entertainment for children


In sorrow, the freedom fighter sits on the debris of his youth

hugging a cold rifle

biting a frozen lip

Trying to remember what he was before the tyrants and invaders, and before the sky of the homeland collapsed

He thinks of it and his powerless mother

Are they still alive?

Is there still room in the years left of his life for hope?

He gazes toward the sky

And realizes he might never go back

And if he does, he might not see her

nor his mother

He hugs the cold rifle

and bites the frozen lip


With incomprehensible sadness, I come to you

With a heart incapable of happiness, I come to you

With a soul heaving, like a bird in its final moments, I come to you

So don’t leave me.


This poem was originally posted on Deek al-Jin’s Facebook page on 30 March, 2017.








The Benefits of Silence

Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

Learn About the Many Benefits of Silence

Al-Araby al-Jadid

6 May 2017

We live in a world full of sounds; some are melodious and others are noisy, but rarely do we experience silence. Is this important? Actually, it is. According to the website Psychology Today, silence has several benefits, below are some.

  1. Silence contributes the development of the brain. A 2013 study about the brain’s structure and functions showed that at least two hours of silence can lead to the development of new brain cells related to learning and memory.
  2. Noise affects our stress levels through increasing cortisol and adrenaline. A study in 2006 found that silence can decrease stress within just two minutes.
  3. Silence helps the body and mind relax more than listening to music, as indicated through lower blood pressure and an increase of blood flow to the brain.
  4. Periods of silence improve sleep.
  5. 20th century studies linked between noise pollution and higher percentages of heart disease and ringing in the ear (Tinnitus). The World Health Organization likened this pollution to a “modern plague”.
  6. Conor O’Shea, who interviewed 100 people on a retreat, found that they had increased levels of awareness and gave more time to reflection. Everyone should listen to their inner voice before making decisions.
  7. Silence helps increase our ability to think. This might seem obvious but often we find ourselves forced to finish a report amidst noise and some people study while listening to music; several studies have shown that this is not [productive for focusing].
  8. Caroline Myss says, “The soul always knows exactly what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to quiet the mind.” How to achieve that is up to you. For example, you can meditate for 10 minutes in complete silence and this might help you calm down and think of what to do. Give priority to what matters, then, the secondary details will be what you always wanted them to be, secondary.
  9. Abraham Lincoln says, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” We must realize that silence is many times the best strategy, not jut for ourselves, but for others as well. Not everyone wants to hear your opinion. Before you speak, ask yourself, “Is this beneficial? Do I have to say this?

This is a translation of an Arabic report that appeared on Al-Araby al-Jadid.

Palestinian-Icelandic Author Mazen Maarouf Wins AlMultaqa Short Story Prize

Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

الفلسطيني مازن معروف يفوز بجائزة (الملتقى) للقصة القصيرة في الكويت


من محمود حربي


الكويت (رويترز) – فاز الفلسطيني مازن معروف يوم الاثنين بجائزة (الملتقى) للقصة القصيرة العربية في الكويت في دورتها الأولى عن مجموعته (نكات للمسلحين) وقيمتها 20 ألف دولار.


وتتضمن المجموعة الفائزة 14 قصة قصيرة تسرد الواقع غير المنطقي من وجهة نظر طفل يعيش حياته اليومية في ظل حرب لا تتصدر موضوع القصص إنما تعتبره واقعا فانتازيا يعيشه الطفل ومن خلاله يقص المؤلف الرؤى الإنسانية والمفارقات والدعابات الساخرة.


والمجموعة الصادرة عن دار رياض الريس للكتب والنشر في بيروت هي الأولى للمؤلف الفلسطيني/الأيسلندي الذي ولد في لبنان عام 1978 لعائلة فلسطينية. وحصل معروف على بكالوريوس في الكيمياء من كلية العلوم بالجامعة اللبنانية وعمل لعدة سنوات بتدريس الكيمياء قبل أن يبدأ مشواره الأدبي في 2008 وصدرت له سابقا ثلاث مجموعات شعرية.


وقال معروف لرويتز بعد تسلمه الجائزة “لهذه الجائزة رمزية كبيرة لأنها ترد الاعتبار لأدب القصة القصيرة وهي تعزز المشهد الثقافي الفلسطيني وتكرم الكاتب الفلسطيني فأنا مولود في الشتات ولم أزر فلسطين إلا مؤخرا.”



Palestinian Mazen Maarouf Al Multaqa Arabic Short Story Prize in Kuwait

Kuwait (Reuters)- Palestinian Mazen Maarouf won on Monday, 5 December, the Al-Multaqa Arabic Short Story Prize of $20,000 in Kuwait. Maarouf received the first edition of the Prize for his collection “Jokes of the Gunmen”.

The winning collection includes 14 short stories that narrate the senseless reality from the point of view of a child living his everyday life amidst a war that is not the subject of the stories, but is rather seen as a fantasy reality the child lives and through which the author illustrates human visions, paradoxes, and sarcastic jokes.

The collection published by Riad El-Rayyes for Books and Publishing in Beirut is the Palestinian-Icelandic author’s first. Maarouf was born in Lebanon in 1978 to a Palestinian family. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the School of Sciences at the Lebanese University and worked as a chemistry teacher for a few years before starting his journey in literature and writing in 2008. He has three poetry collections published previously.

Upon receiving the Prize, Maarouf told Reuters that “this Prize has a major symbolic meaning as it brings back esteem to the short story, strengthens the Palestinian cultural scene, and honors the Palestinian writer; I was born in the diaspora and did not visit Palestine until recently.”

Read the full Reuters article by Mahmoud Harbi.

Der Drachenprinz cover by Louiza Fröbe

“Der Drachenprinz” Welcomes Refugee Children to Germany

Uncategorized, Writing

In the last year, Germany has welcomed a great number of refugees. In addition to safe shelter and food many, especially children, need the emotional support to make sense of their new environment. This is where picture books like “Der Drachenprinz” (The Prince and the Dragon) by author Louiza Fröbe come in.

Every child arriving in Germany since September 15 of this year received a copy of the picture book. Through bright illustrations and the two young characters of the book, Lisa and Yasin, young refugee children and their families are introduced to everyday life in Germany from going to the supermarket to the transportation system and the German language. The book also offers German readers young and old insight into some cultural differences and how to welcome refugees in their communities, as modeled by Lisa and her mother.

This project is in partnership with the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, who distributed the books to the children, and Deutsche Welle, which produced the audiobook in nine different languages: Arabic, Dari, Farsi, French, Kurmanci, Pashto, Sorani and Turkish.

For more information visit the Drachenprinz website, where you can also hear the audiobook in the different languages!

Yaffa cover, nibal qundos

Translated Excerpt from Nibal Qundos’ Novel “Yafa: A Story of Absence and Rain”


Screen shot 2016-02-20 at 3.36.10 PM

We’re going deeper into Autumn. It seems winter’s coming early this year, fortunately for those of us whom rain brings so much joy; earthly beings that come alive with rain, their hearts fluttering. In thinking of happiness, I think about visiting Yafa on the first rainy day. She might open her door to me in the winter. Maybe she’ll need some company, someone to sit with in front of the fireplace on rainy evening.

Rain makes us more fragile,  more needing to confess.Its droplets tapping on our windows and pouring yearning into our hearts, make us in more need of a friend or a lover to share the craziness of dancing  under the rain with and walking for hours tirelessly. How beautiful it is to reward ourselves with a warm cup of coffee from an old coffee shop that still believes in the necessity of playing Fairouz in the early morning and to watch from behind glass windows the passersby in their winter coats and hats and others seeking shelter beneath their umbrellas. Those umbrellas whose existence I still think is silly.There is nothing more beautiful than the patter of rain drops  on our heads, grown tired by the summer and longing for a warm moment, like someone  wrapping you in their coat, holding your cold hands and breathing some warmth into them.