TED Blog

Meet the translator: Khalid Marbou, who brings you TED Talks in Arabic

TED translator Khalid Marbou at work in the nanotechnology lab.

TED Talks are available in 100 languages, from Albanian to Vietnamese, thanks to the tireless work of our volunteer translators. So far, more than 10,000 volunteers have created upwards of 40,000 talk translations — and every week, the TED Blog brings you a Q&A with one of them. Today, meet Khalid Marbou.

1. Where do you live and what do you do by day?

I was born and raised in Tiznit, Morocco, and live in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, where I’m pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nanotechnology engineering. Aside from my studies, I spend most of my day online keeping in touch with friends and relatives — blogging, translating, reading and working on different projects in Malaysia and Morocco. 

2. What drew you to TED?

Many factors made me into a TED fanatic, but I would say that the most influential of them is my constant search for inspiration and intellectual stimulation. Before TED, I found small doses of inspiration reading novels and watching movies, but when I first discovered TED, it gave me a jolt. It’s never ceased to inspire me to this day.

3. What was the first talk you translated and how did you pick it?

Charles Fleischer: All things are Moleeds My first talk was Charles Fleischer’s “All things are Moleeds.” Most of the other translators avoided the talk because of its complexity and richness – it has made-up words and expressions — but I liked Charles’ sense of humor and wanted to share it with my friends, so they could understand it. I picked it up both as a challenge and as a test to see how prepared I would be for complex translation tasks. I managed to finish it within a day, and picked up another talk right away.

4. What have been your favorite talks to translate? Why?

Beau Lotto + Amy O'Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included I would say Beau Lotto + Amy O’Toole’s talk: “Science is for everyone, kids included.” First, because I am very passionate about science communication and involving kids in scientific activities. I’ve been working on implementing similar initiatives in Moroccan schools and raising awareness about the subject in general. And second, having attended TEDGlobal2012, I saw Beau and Amy onstage and was tremendously amazed and excited. I said to myself, “That’s a talk I want to spend hours translating.” And I did.

5. Which talk was the most difficult for you to translate and why?

The most challenging talk for me was indeed that first talk I translated, “All things are Moleeds.”

6. What’s a phrase in your language that you wish would catch on globally?

I’d like to share a quote from my native language, Tamazight:

“أورا تمون أبلا إيح ترعي”

Which translates into:

“It won’t get organized unless it first gets all messy.”