FaceOf: Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, KSA's minister of commerce and investment

Updated 21 June 2018

FaceOf: Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, KSA's minister of commerce and investment

  • Al-Qassabi declared that Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in MSCI’s emerging market is recognition of its efficiency in satisfying global markets’ needs
  • Al-Qassabi was born in 1959 in Jeddah to one of the biggest real estate owners in the Kingdom

Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi is the minister of commerce and investment in Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, the minister declared that Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in MSCI’s emerging market is recognition of its efficiency in satisfying global markets’ needs.

He also highlighted the importance of seizing the day with milestones like these by expanding the liquidity of Saudi’s financial markets through an increase in investments and creating diverse opportunities for investors and traders.

Al-Qassabi was born in 1959 in Jeddah to one of the biggest real estate owners in the Kingdom.

He received his schooling in Jeddah, before he earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Portland, Oregon, in 1981. 

He then received two master’s degrees: Engineering management from the University of Missouri in 1983 and civil engineering from UC Berkeley in 1982. After that, he returned to Missouri to pursue a doctorate in engineering management in 1985.

The current minister became a professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah for 11 years, before serving as the secretary-general of Jeddah’s Chamber of Commerce in 1998.

In 2002, he was appointed as the director general of the Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Foundation, then became an adviser to the crown prince’s court in 2010. 

Al-Qassabi sits on many boards and serves as a member of major Saudi charities such as the Council of Saudi Ports Authority Management, the High Commission for the Development of Hail, the Centennial Fund and the Supreme Economic Council.


Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

Updated 52 min 26 sec ago

Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

  • The Arabic word “jamarat" was inaccurately translated to “anthrax",  a dangerous infectious disease
  • Citing possible repercussions of the mistranslation, scholars want a probe to pinpoint responsibility

RIYADH: The Hajj and Umrah Ministry is investigating the inaccurate translation of the word “jamarat” into “anthrax,” which led to Sheikh Yusuf Estes making a video warning pilgrims of the mistake and its possible repercussions.

The translation concerned a bag that was a gift to pilgrims, containing small pebbles to use for the “stoning of the devil” upon their return from Muzdalifah. The bag had the correct original Arabic description, which roughly translates as “jamarat pebble bag,” whereas the English version of “jamarat” was translated into “anthrax,” a dangerous infectious disease.

According to SPA, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah was notified and opened an investigation with the contractor and translator on August 10, before handing them to authorities to take the necessary disciplinary action.

“Anthrax, where did they get that? They get it from Google, it’s not Google’s fault. Google allows people to tell the meaning of the different languages of words,” Sheikh Yusuf said in the video.

Google Translate, the free multilingual machine translator, relies on comparing large quantities of content between pairs of languages to establish patterns and, in most cases, determine the probability that certain words in one language will correspond with a set of words in another. 

Putting Google Translate to the test, Arab News used the platform to translate a name of a type of fish known in the region as “sha’oor” from Arabic to English. The scientific term for the fish is Lethrinus nebulosus, a type of emperor fish most commonly known as the green snapper or sand snapper.  

Google Translate’s translation was “thickness of feeling.”

Though it yields imperfect results, the service can be used at a pinch, though real human translators rather than artificial intelligence are far more likely to lead to more accurate translations.  

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Gisele Riachy, director of the Center for Languages and Translation at the Lebanese University in Beirut, explained how the mistranslation of “jamarat” could have happened.

“We have two possibilities, it was either translated by Google Translate or the translator was provided with a single sentence and therefore didn’t understand the meaning of “jamarat,” she said.

“The translator may have not taken into consideration the general context of the word, which has certain religious connotations, therefore it should have been borrowed, translated by the “Stoning of the Devil” or even left as it is.”

Dr. Riachy said that the word anthrax cannot be translated without an accompanying adjective for a better explanation of the term.

“What surprised me is that when translating the word “jamarat” from Arabic to English, the word should have been accompanied with the adjective “khabitha,” or malignant in Arabic, for it to be translated to “anthrax” in English. That is why I am confused and I do not think Google Translate would have translated it into “anthrax” if the Arabic version didn’t include the word “khabitha.”

Sheikh Yusuf Estes’ video was intended for those who would like to take the small bags home as a souvenir or gift, sending a message that the mistranslation could cause the traveler trouble with customs in their own countries.