What is Al Fanar?
Al Fanar’s mission is to connect the Spanish-speaking world with the political, social and cultural reality of the Arab world in all its geographical breadth, linguistic plurality, ethnic variety and cultural diversity and all the nuances and richness that entails.
Spain’s geographic closeness and historical ties with several countries in North Africa and the Middle East have failed to translate into a deeper understanding of the region. Broad stereotypes in the collective imagination have overpowered a positive approach that would confirm the well-known saying that what unites us is greater than what divides us
These negative stereotypes have been the basis for the way we see our neighbours from those countries, people we have been sharing spaces with for decades, together with other communities that have all contributed to new, richer and more diverse social contexts.
With the information we provide and the projects we develop, our aim is to help change that prejudice-based image in favour of authentic knowledge and a new cross-cultural societal model in which not only spaces are shared but also experiences and causes that bring us together as citizens.
Al Fanar, the origins
In 1997, a time when the internet only existed in science fiction movies, Mona Galal and Pedro Rojo founded Al Fanar Traductores in Madrid. Al Fanar means lighthouse in Arabic, but it has a special significance in relation to the Lighthouse of Alexandria, a city that was historically a centre of knowledge and exchange. At that time, delivering Arabic texts in electronic format was a breakthrough, leading Al Fanar to translate for major companies and public entities, facilitating relations with the Arab world.
Al Fanar moved to Morocco in 2002, and once in Rabat the company pivoted to specialise in translating news in Arabic so that the media, academic institutions and public bodies would have access to what the Arabs were writing about themselves. Omar Elmrabet, Fatima Bouaziz and current Al Fanar project manager Mónica Carrión joined the project at this stage to help with the relentless task of translating daily press articles from all over the Arab world, creating a collection of Arabic press translated into Spanish that boasts nearly 180,000 entries. Driven by the fascination for the Arabic language, its culture and its current affairs, Al Fanar joined forces with Icaria Editorial to produce the “Mundo árabe” (Arabic World) collection, which includes not only current affairs and Arabic press, but also books on theatre, novels and poetry.
Al Fanar, Foundation
In 2012, back in Spain, Al Fanar Traductores became a foundation, a far-reaching transformation not only in terms of objectives but also in internal operations, a change that has allowed Al Fanar to modernise and take on several projects through one of its cornerstones: collaboration with other organisations, both Arab and European, as well as with public institutions.
Almost ten years later, we embark on this new stage with the addition of Ibrahim Rifi as communications director and Mussa’ab Bashir, the new head of the Arabic translation department following the retirement of co-founder Mona Galal. In this new adventure, Al Fanar will continue to work with Arab current affairs while focusing its efforts on the vibrant artistic, social and cultural creations of the Arab world, with special attention on gender and young Arabs.