Saudi Arabian schools launch healthy living program

Students selected to take part in the program will have checks carried out on their medical history and will undergo various health tests. (SPA)
Updated 19 January 2019

Saudi Arabian schools launch healthy living program

  • The parents of those students not included in the project, are being urged by the ministry to have their children tested at their local health center

JEDDAH: A major initiative to promote health in schools has been launched in Saudi Arabia.
The Ministry of Health in partnership with the Ministry of Education on Thursday announced the new program, which initially aims to target 50 percent of the Kingdom’s elementary grade students.
The project is part of a wider campaign by the Health Ministry to encourage healthy lifestyles and enable the early detection of a range of medical conditions.
Students selected to take part in the program will have checks carried out on their medical history and will undergo various health tests.
As well as dental examinations, students will receive eye, hearing and weight tests and behavioral experts will check for signs of learning disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There will also be tests aimed at spotting other conditions, including scoliosis (curvature of the spine).
The parents of those students not included in the project, are being urged by the ministry to have their children tested at their local health center.
This is the second phase of a health program, launched by the Health Ministry in September last year, to promote student health throughout the Kingdom.
It includes a social media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of medical examinations for students in helping to detect symptoms early.


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

Updated 26 min 59 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.