Grand reception awaits Saudi crown prince in Pakistan

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistani PM Imran Khan will discuss ways to ensure quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation. (SPA/File)
Updated 17 February 2019

Grand reception awaits Saudi crown prince in Pakistan

  • The crown prince is due to arrive in Islamabad on Saturday

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be the first state guest to stay at the official residence of the prime minister of Pakistan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Arab News on Wednesday.

The crown prince is due to arrive in Islamabad for a two-day visit on the afternoon of Feb. 16. He is expected to sign agreements worth up to $15 billion, including for three power plants in Pakistan’s Punjab province and an oil refinery and petrochemical complex to be set up in the coastal city of Gwadar in southwestern Balochistan.

Chaudhry said the crown prince would arrive in Islamabad on Saturday and stay overnight at Prime Minister House.

Outlining the prince’s agenda, the information minister said he would attend a reception at the presidential palace on Saturday evening.

“A reception will be hosted in his honor at the president’s house and will be attended by the (Pakistani) prime minister, army chief, all top ministers, bureaucrats and important personalities in the country as well as members of the royal entourage,” Chaudhry said.

On Sunday, he said, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the crown prince will co-chair meetings of joint working groups including on trade and investment, energy, science, culture and information and media.

The Foreign Ministry said the crown prince would call on the president of Pakistan, the prime minister and the army chief separately.

The statement added that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would sign agreements during the crown prince’s visit, including in the fields of investment, finance, power, internal security, media and culture.

“The two countries will also discuss ways and means to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure effective implementation and quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation,” the statement said.

The crown prince will leave Pakistan on Feb. 17 and head to India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Responding to a question about reports that the crown prince would address a joint session of Parliament, Chaudhry said: “That is highly unlikely.”

Giving details of security arrangements for the visit, the information minister said the crown prince’s own security team would guard Prime Minister House during his stay there, but that Pakistani security officials would also be on duty.

Chaudhry said Islamabad would be on high security throughout the crown prince’s visit, and the Pakistan army and paramilitary Rangers would be in charge of keeping the capital safe. 

Saudi security and intelligence officials are also expected to be present not just at Prime Minister House, but across Islamabad during the two days the crown prince is there.

As of Monday night, 350 people in the crown prince’s advance media and security team had already arrived in Islamabad and another 800 were expected in the next few days, Chaudhry said. 

Vehicles to be used by the crown prince would arrive via a special flight on Friday, while the cars and security equipment of his entourage would also be shipped in. At least 80 containers of luggage and other paraphernalia are expected to arrive in Islamabad to cater to the needs of the royal entourage.

Saudi ministers accompanying the crown prince are also expected to hold meetings with their counterparts “to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Wednesday, adding that businessmen from the two countries would also meet to discuss opportunities for collaboration in the private sector.

“A delegation of Pakistan’s Senate will also call on the crown prince to discuss ways to enhance parliamentary cooperation between the two countries,” the statement said.


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

Updated 59 min 44 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.