Al-Mouallimi: We are all working to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people

Ambassador Abdallah Yahya Al-Mouallimi (L) and Dr. Samer Al-Jatili at the press conference in New York on June 21, 2018. (SPA)
Updated 22 June 2018

Al-Mouallimi: We are all working to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people

  • Saudi Arabia is continuing its humanitarian work to help the people in Yemen, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador said
  • Saudi Arabia’s most recent effort was the convoy of 45 trucks carrying 924 tons of food, medical and shelter assistance to the people of Hodeidah

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is continuing its humanitarian work to help the people in Yemen, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Abdallah Yahya Al-Mouallimi said during a media briefing in New York on Thursday, the Saudi press agency SPA reported.

The spokesman for the KSRelief, Dr. Samer Al-Jatili, gave a presentation during the briefing which outlined the Saudi government’s efforts to help the people of the war-torn country, including Hodeidah, since the beginning of the crisis.

Dr Jatili’s presentation noted that since 2015, the campaign has consisted of combating epidemics, promoting environmental sanitation, providing drinking water and distributing food aid.

Saudi Arabia’s most recent effort was the convoy of 45 trucks carrying 924 tons of food, medical and shelter assistance to the people of Hodeidah, which was meant to alleviate the humanitarian suffering from the blockade imposed by the Iran-backed Houthi militias.

The Yemeni ambassador to the US also stated that the Houthi militia have rejected all initiatives presented by former UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and the current envoy Martin Griffith to find practical solutions to avoid military operations to retake Hodeidah.

The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Lana Nusseibeh, was also present at the press conference along with other senior officials.


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

Updated 18 August 2019

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.