No longer lost in translation: In world’s languages, Saudi youth speak of home

Updated 09 January 2019
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No longer lost in translation: In world’s languages, Saudi youth speak of home

  • A group of young Saudis are seeking to portray the correct image of the Kingdom in various languages, with a focus on culture, art and identity

A group of multilingual Saudis is informing the world about their country through their “KSA in All Languages” volunteer initiative.

It serves to promote dialogue and information about Saudi identity, culture and history in various languages and on various social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram. 

“Many across the globe are still oblivious about Saudi Arabia. There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the Kingdom and what it represents,” said Khadija Moraished, the general director and a board member of the initiative.

“We want to correct this. To reach a global audience we had to use their language, find talented and skilled Saudis who excel in a certain language, hone that skill and use social media.”

The initiative so far has 264 volunteers who speak 11 languages. One of their tasks is to identify language trends, interests and national days.

“We’re targeting the world’s most spoken languages — English, French and Spanish being the top three,” said Moraished.

“But in order to reach a wider audience, we expanded and we’ll keep expanding as we continue to discover local talent with the same dedication as those who launched the initiative.”

In a globalized world, translation has become an important tool to enhance understanding between cultures. As such, the initiative translates various topics about the Kingdom.

“Stumbling upon Korean culture by coincidence three years ago paved the way to an interesting journey of self-learning the Korean language,” said AlReem Mutlaq, 23, the initiative’s media director. 

“I pushed it further after passing a Korean language test two years ago that focuses more on scientific terminology.”

Abdulhakim Al-Dhafeeri, one of the founders of the initiative’s Spanish translation department, said: “I’ve been fascinated by the language since 2006. Interacting with locals while studying for my master’s in innovative business creation and management in Valencia, Spain, strengthened my language skills while creating a social circle of friends and colleagues.” 

He added: “Many of the volunteers share the same experience of integrating into societies, and are able to fulfil the initiative’s goal.” 

He said: “As connections are made, each language expert is better able to properly portray the Kingdom’s image.”

Volunteers participate in local events, conferences and festivals, and share their experiences on social media.

Those events have included the Misk Global Forum, discussions at the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, the Formula-E racing championship and the Janadriyah festival.

“The King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue held a workshop in late 2018 called ‘The Image We Want of Saudi Arabia’,” said Moraished 

“We were invited to a discussion panel with a focus on what type of content should be prepared to correct misunderstandings about Saudi Arabia, and how understanding different cultures and diversity can help deliver this content to the world,” she added.

“We focus our efforts on highlighting the Kingdom’s progress and achievements, and efforts by Saudis both young and old, backed by our generous and supportive government,” she said. “We plan to expand more and reach a wider global community.”


Jeddah to host first global village in Saudi Arabia

The marketing plan of the village has been put in place to target private and international schools to ensure high attendance. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 January 2019
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Jeddah to host first global village in Saudi Arabia

  • “Participants from some 50 countries have so far confirmed their interest in taking part in the festival, which will be held on an area of more than 45,000 square meters,” Suzan Eskander said

JEDDAH: For the first time in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah will host a multicultural festival that takes visitors on a virtual tour of 50 countries.
The global village will be set up inside Atallah Happy Land Park along the city’s famous waterfront every day from 5 p.m. to midnight between Feb. 28 and March 29.
The event is one of many aiming to enhance tourism, as well as the local economy.
Suzan Eskander, director-general of International Image, the organizing company, told Arab News that the village is expected to attract 1 million visitors.
“Participants from some 50 countries have so far confirmed their interest in taking part in the festival, which will be held on an area of more than 45,000 square meters,” she said.
“There will be pavilions for participants from five Gulf Cooperation Council states, 10 Arab countries, 18 African countries, 10 European countries and four countries from the Americas.”
She added that folkloric dances would be performed by bands from each country.
“Performers will be dressed in traditional costumes,” she said. “Visitors can also enjoy dishes and traditional products from different countries.”
Eskander also said paintings portraying heritage and culture in the different countries would be on display.
“In addition, we are hopeful that the children’s zone will wow young visitors,” she said. “Little guests can develop their skills in drawing and games, as well as play zones.”
Eskander said the village was timed to coincide with the city’s good weather season, adding that a marketing plan has been put in place to target private and international schools to ensure high attendance. Eskander expressed her gratitude to the General Entertainment Authority for their continued support and cooperation.
“They have not only provided us instructions for obtaining the festival’s license, but are still following up to ensure that everything is going smoothly,” she said.