Although translation is one of the oldest professions in the world, translation had long been considered a supporting service or secondary profession, particularly in Arab World. “It is widely felt in many places that there is a lack of respect for translators” (Schäffner 1998). Translation has been seen as an academic discipline and most people confuse it with language learning. Translators are now still struggling to be accepted by other disciplines as expert intercultural communicators.
The first citation of Arabic legal translation was in 1271 B.C. in Old Egypt when the Egyptian–Hittite Peace Treaty was translated (Soriano Barabino, 2006). In ancient times, translation was restricted to agreements and treaties as literacy was so rare. The Islamic Conquests in the 7th century was a milestone for Arabic translation in general and legal translation in particular as translation became essential to rule the new counties and cultures that were conquered. Major works (including legal works and Quran) were translated and Arabic translator became one of the most important positions at the Court of Islamic State. However, there is no much research tracing the history of Arabic legal translation that we can provide in this article.
Since the 14th century, the legal and administrative systems appeared due to growing population mobility an civil registers were created to record births, deaths, and marriages and other registers to record title deeds, ownership transfer, legacy limitation…etc. Therefore, the need to translate the documents issued by state institutions has increased. Moreover, the accreditation of a legal translator became crucial to guarantee the accuracy and reliability of translated document to be used by state institutions for all purposes.
Nowadays, with the increase of population mobility and commercial and economic and political cooperation with non-Arabic speaking countries almost every state institution in the Arab World has their own Arabic translator for any documents to be issued or authenticated thereby. The increasing number of foreign investors, tourists, political representatives and visitors highlights the pressing need to translation in our lives and gives more weight to the position of translator in our new system.
The importance of translation for the legal and economic systems of the state has stimulated some Arab states to develop an effective translation system to be followed by all translators and translation-seekers and monitored by the state-owned competent authority and to issue some laws regulating profession of translator. However, other states did not give translation the due weight or try to even develop a system or issue a law regulating translation industry.
Egypt and UAE is a case in point where this issue deserves careful attention. UAE has issued Federal Law No . 6 of 2012 Regulating Profession of Translator; Certification System of translators, Code of Conduct, and Reporting and Penalty Rules. Thus, UAE managed to overcome language barriers and cultural differences in its multi-national society and build its UAE civilization as an integral and equal part of the international community. Legal Translation in Dubai is a highly flourishing and regulated business where translation companies provide premium and certified translation services to individual and corporate clients as per laws and regulations issued by Ministry of Justice. On the other hand, Egypt has failed to issue a law regulating the profession of translator, establish a syndicate for translators or even declare to which authority translators belong to! Translator practices translation activity with no rights or duties and has to take the necessary precautions to guarantee his dues. Any translator can introduce himself as certified translator and provide certified translation without any accountability. This chaos is unworthy of the civilization and position of Egypt as a leading country in the Arab World and Egypt must take the necessary remedying actions in this regard as soon as possible.