Saudi Cabinet vows support for Sudanese people

King Salman chairs the Cabinet session in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 17 April 2019

Saudi Cabinet vows support for Sudanese people

  • Saudi Arabia calls on Yemeni people to isolate Houthis

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet has renewed the Kingdom’s support for the people of Sudan and the actions of the transitional military council in working to restore stability and security to the country.
In a session of the Council of Ministers, chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday, members highlighted the monarch’s directives to send aid to Sudan including medicines, corn and petroleum products.
The Cabinet also expressed its appreciation to Pakistani President Arif Alvi for his statement at the 4th International Message of Islam Conference in Islamabad which lauded the strong bond between the two countries.
And members pointed to Pakistan’s honoring of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the global influential figure of 2018 award in appreciation of his efforts to support Islam, Muslims worldwide and global peace.
In a statement, Minister of Media Turki Al-Shabanah said that the Cabinet had discussed the convening of the first session of the Yemeni Parliament since the 2014 Houthi coup.
Council members agreed the meeting, held on Saturday in the city of Seiyun, was a step forward and showed the resolve of the Yemeni people to regain their country and unity and isolate the Iranian-backed Houthis.
The Cabinet authorized the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif to discuss a draft agreement on security cooperation with Ethiopia.
The Kingdom’s Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi was given the go-ahead to start negotiations on a deal with Iraq over the mutual protection of investments.
Ministers went on to approve a memorandum of understanding for technical cooperation between the Human Rights Commission of Saudi Arabia and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, an agency of the US State Department.
The Cabinet also noted a new passport developed by Interpol for officials on work-related missions.

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

Updated 16 min 29 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. 


The contractor and translator are being investigated for the inaccurate translation of the word ‘jamarat’ into ‘anthrax.’

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.