Languages and globalization of tourism
At the beginning of 2006, Islamic Tourism magazine will also be published in German, the fifth language, in addition to Arabic, English, French and Spanish. The German version of the electronic site of this magazine, will appear before this date, and will be added to the four others. The attentive reader, in particular the one who is interested in heritage, civilization, science, economics and the media, may wonder how this project was born and implemented to reach its current level. The publication of a professional review of tourism, culture and heritage, with an international dimension and distribution, in five languages and more to come, is a pioneer in this field. It was not easy to turn the idea of an international Islamic tourism magazine into reality.
Islamic Tourism magazine, is in fact only the engine of a series of coaches; each one with new horizons for creative information and advertising. The first is the electronic website, which is characterized by a diversity of pages covering all aspects of international tourism and travel. It is also a means of highlighting the tourism web sites of all countries of the world and of publishing weekly news bulletins with news from the world of tourism in five languages. The websites have been designed and updated by the publisher and director of TCPH Ltd and his staff.
The publication of Islamic Tourism magazine has surprised everyone. It is well received by the tourist industry. The publisher is proud of it became it is his dream come true. It was first published in two languages (English and Arabic) in a high quality format. All the issues of the magazine, from the first which appeared in the autumn of 2001, until the current issue, can be read, free of charge, on the magazineís website: www.islamictourism.com.
The summer of 2004 was marked by a second surprise, namely the publication of Issue 12 of the magazine, which also had a French/Arabic edition. After the success of this initiative, we continued to expand with confidence and enthusiasm. Thus, from the start of 2005, another edition Spanish/Arabic was added. Here we are, at the beginning of the fifth year of ITMís existence, and we are about to publish in German/Arabic, at the beginning of 2006: the magazine will soon be available in five languages.
Morocco was the starting point
The important question is how and from where did the idea come to publish in English/Arabic, and then move to a cloned French/Arabic edition?
Morocco was the place, the time and the reason for the publication of the French/Arabic version. Ten issues of our English/Arabic magazine were published, and Morocco was one of the first targeted markets, where ITM was distributed in the bookshops alongside Arabic publications, which accounted for only 10% of the periodicals on sale, the remainder being in French. I estimated then, that our magazine has a place in this market and there is a need for a French/Arabic edition. It was easy for me to see the potential of this project since my knowledge of foreign languages goes back a long time.
I started my journey by learning foreign languages in the early fifties, when I joined the American Institute in Baghdad, located close to my work place, in Bab El-Agha. I forsook my work, and many customers, for English lessons. Thus, I learned how to speak, read and write a little in this language.
I also learned some Eastern languages. Following summer holidays spent in Iran in 1949, 1953 and 1968, I learned some Persian which is very close to Arabic: there were plenty of opportunities to practice at that time.
However, my great discovery of languages and my aptitude to learn foreign languages became apparent when I started visiting Europe half a century ago. In 1955, I received an invitation from the German firm Bayer, to take part in a three-month training course dealing with the rubber industry Since that visit, my trips followed one another. I stayed longer and longer on each visit, as necessitated by my work requirements, industrial activities and following-up scientific ways of developing my projects in Iraq. The participation in specialized exhibitions, meetings and contacts with German companies required the ability to converse in English, already acquired, and in German which I started to learn in evening courses and through my industrial and personal relationships.
That encouraged me to learn the vocabulary of the languages of the countries which I visited several times for professional or tourist reasons, in particular Italian, French and Czech. That made life easy for me and enabled me to enjoy my stays in these countries. It also made me successful in my work. Today, I can say that I can converse in the following languages: Arabic, English, German and Persian.
My experiments in the professional media also helped and encouraged my practice of languages. Indeed, I published two international professional magazines: "alHidaa", relating to the shoe industry, and "alridaa", devoted to the industries of spinning, weaving and clothing. Both are published in Arabic and English. These reviews had a distinguished presence in the international exhibitions of their sectors.
Consequently, I gained an interest in languages; I prepared, financed and translated the International Lexicon of Leather which contains 5,500 terms in six languages, and added the Arabic language.
Languages and tourism
What role and impact did these languages have on the enjoyment of my holidays?
When I completed my work, in my spare time, or during weekends, I sought a place of interest, a festival or a short trip in the countries which I visited. The languages which I mastered, or the vocabulary which I knew, gave me the courage and confidence to communicate with others, to know the way of life of these people and their feelings. I was also able to express my ideas.
Because of my interest in languages I took my son my son Haider, who was then 12 years old, with me to France and registered him in French language classes during several summer holidays.
Among the factors which contributed to the publication of the French version of the magazine, was the competence and professionalism of the staff producing Islamic Tourism and its website, especially the editor-in-chief, Dr. Abdul-Rahim Hassan, our IT specialist Mr. Rasoul Al-Shahrastani, and Mrs. Eman Abbas, the secretary of the main office. There are also, many representatives, participants and volunteers who enrich the magazine and its website with their articles and news, in particular Ms Karen Dabrowska who helps in the editing of the English magazine and the weekly English news bulletin.
On the technical side we owe our success to the willingness and cooperation of Mr. Joseph Raidy and his design team, in particular Mr. Elias Nahas and Mr. Michel Abou Aouda, who solved all the problems encountered in publishing in different languages.
The permanent presence of the magazine in international tourism and travel exhibitions, is due to the efforts of its representatives, in particular Mr. Motaz Othman.
The decisive factor in this adventure, was however, the fact that I have a large office and a house in the most important district in the centre of Casablanca. They are the consequences of a great industrial project, whose products were very famous in Morocco and even outside; but the collapse of this venture caused me enormous losses and indescribable suffering. It had a considerable impact on my life and my philosophy and left me with an abhorrence of any project motivated by financial gain.
My only consolation was this magazine and the few books I have written. This is why I made the magazine my pride and joy. I was encouraged to take daring steps in the field of industrial professional media. I made Morocco my second home and mixed my hopes and ambitions with those of its dear people. I shared their happiness, and their misfortune. And Morocco has people who are competent in French and other languages.
The French edition
These factors played a major role in my decision to publish Islamic Tourism in French, as well as in English/ Arabic. I advertised for a translator and received several replies. I selected the first person who contacted me: Mr. Nour-eddine Saoudi, a teacher in a higher institute in Casablanca. It was a choice without any hesitation and it was a good choice. The secretary, Mrs. Samira Benlaidi, who worked with me for more than 15 years in the industrial company about which I have spoken, played a significant role in the development and implementation of this project. Thus, the first French issue was published in the summer of 2004 together with the French website.
Following the success of the English/Arabic, French/Arabic editions we decided to publish in other international languages and Spanish was an obvious choice. The first issue came out at the beginning of 2005, thanks to Dr. Driss Bouissef Rekab, a lecturer at Rabat University. Thereafter, Mrs. Wafae Addawhari, a teacher in a college in Casablanca joined the team to work on the Spanish website.
The German edition
Dr. Ala Al-Hamarneh, a lecturer at Mainz University (Germany), wrote excellent articles for the magazine since Issue 14. His contributions gave the publication a scientific and academic character. We discussed with him the idea of a German/ Arabic edition and he agreed enthusiastically . Al-Hamarneh nominated his friend Johannes Bardong for the translation and administration of this edition, and the construction of its website. The publisher accepted the proposal and preparations were made for the German edition at the beginning of 2006.
This is how the coaches came to be added to the train of the bilingual Islamic tourism magazine. The journey delighted the writers and the readers of this media innovation. My thanks to all who took part in the success of this magazine and supported it during its successful march.
Lastly, countries whose people have a command of several languages - provided it is not detrimental to the mother tongue - are regarded as countries which are highly civilised, because by learning an additional language, one acquires the sciences of other people.
I hope that the Arab-Islamic countries use their universities and institutes to teach future generations more than one language, even if it is a local language and encourage their nationals to be active in tourism and travel - in particular the personnel of the diplomatic corps and those promoting tourist attractions. Thus, our countries and our people can enter the globalization of tourism by the large, front door.
May God guide us to success.