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Jordanian Co. builds cultural bridges with Scandinavian books in Arabic at SIBF-2023

Farzana Mansoor

SHARJAH (UAE): A Jordanian publishing company is building cultural bridges at the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair with works of some of Scandinavia’s most loved authors translated into Arabic for readers of the region.
“We are perhaps the only such publishing house at this event and with such credentials,” says Heba Alnaddaf, who manages the main branch of Dar Al Muna, the company founded by Mona Henning Zureikat in Amman in 1984 with an aim to “spread Swedish literature to Arabic speaking readers”.
“As a diplomat, our founder lived in Sweden for years which is why we started with Swedish books originally but gradually we started bringing more and more titles from the wider region into our ambit with books from Norway and Finland,” adds the 33-year-old who has brought over 2,000 copies of 275 titles that include bestsellers like Sophie’s World (Norwegian: Sofies verden) by Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder and Pippi Longstocking by Swedish fiction writer Astrid Lindgren, all in Arabic.
“Only difference is that the popular Pippi has become Jenan to suit the tastes of the Arab world,” says Heba’s colleague Ishraq Omari, who works as a sales executive & graphics designer at the company and is part of the publisher’s two-woman team at the 12-day-event taking place at the Sharjah Expo Centre.
“I think these books, characters, stories and eventually authors go on to play a huge role  in building bridges between two regions that are not only geographically distant but also culturally so disparate. All it does is it opens our windows to the rest of the world,” she says, talking about how the company has been a part of SIBF for close to a decade now.
“We are proud to have been a part of such a remarkable display of literary diversity and cross-cultural exchange that we think is not only reshaping the literary landscape of this region by promoting cultural dialogue but also embracing the rich tapestry of global literature,” adds Omari highlighting how Dar Al Muna’s curated collection at this fair encompasses a wide range of genres, offering classics, bestsellers, and contemporary works by Scandinavian authors for children and adults alike.
Since its founding, Dar Al-Muna has published more than 130 titles of Swedish books translated into Arabic. The work has mainly focused on children and youth literature, including internationally known Swedish authors like Lindgren and Gunilla Bergström (“Burhan”/Alfie Atkins). In recent years, the company has also published well-known authors like Pär Lagerkvist, Henning Mankell and Jan Guillou.
In 2022, Swedish Krisstofer Lind, founder of Lind & Co. bought Dar Al-Muna because of their interest in investing in Arabic children’s books.