This comment from Palestinian poet and writer Mourid Barghouti should give us all pause for thought :
Arabic literature, both classical and modern, is almost absent from the world stage. The dominant culture of our times, western culture, has not seen other languages, discourses and civilisations as equally worthy approaches to the world. We'll reach nowhere if the concept of "universality" is not re-examined. No western writer questions his or her universality; it is the Arabs, the Africans and the Asians who should aspire to reach it, through translation. Translation being a chance, a favour, a medal, a stamp of recognition and a password to open the space for the lucky newcomers.If you are interested in finding out more, do also check out Arab World Books.
Books from the Arab world is also the market focus of the London Book Fair this year, and the British Council is also providing a shop window for Arabic Writers.
Postscript (25/4/08) :
Boyd Tonkin in the Independent also looks at books from the Arabic world and the problems faced by authors and publishers.