Bassam Frangieh on the Arab Writers’ Union

By Bassam Frangieh

Created in Syria in 1969 by a legislative decree of the Council of Ministers, the Arab Writers’ Union moved to Cairo in 2008. The original resolution defined the scope and objectives of the organization, including writing and translating literary and cultural stories, drama, and poetry as well as research, criticism, and other intellectual properties. Additional goals ranged from exploring talent and enriching Arabic literature to establishing a printing, publishing, and distribution industry and exposing the writing of Arab culture to the world.

The Arab Writers’ Union welcomes citizens of Arab nations and Arab expatriates who have no felony or misdemeanor convictions. Members face eviction from the union for violating the objectives or rules of procedure, for not meeting financial obligations for membership, or for exploiting the group for personal purposes. Elected by the members, the union’s Executive Committee consists of nine individuals, including the President, who serves for five years. The committee approves memberships, forms temporary and permanent subcommittees, proposes rule amendments, and fulfills other obligations.

Within the Arab Writers’ Union, members can join one of five associations: the Society for Research and Studies, the Association of the Story and the Novel, the Association of the Theater, the Poetry Society, and the Association of Literary Criticism. The union raises funds through membership fees, state assistance, aid, grants, gifts, and wills. In addition, the literary organization raises money through the publication of magazines, concert proceeds, and other creative activities.

The Arab Writers’ Union has partnered with the Jafra Palestinian Youth Center to engage Palestinian children in refugee camps in a poetry competition, with the winning entries published. The organization also awards the Best 100 Arabic Books, and has recently opened a bureau in Damascus.

About the Author:

A Professor of Arabic at Claremont McKenna College in California, where he received the Glenn R. Huntoon Teaching Award for excellence in teaching in 2010, Bassam Frangieh earned placement on the Arab Writers’ Union’s Best 100 Arab Books for his translation of The Crane, written by Halim Barakat.

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