UN hears culture and heritage are essential aspects of Saudi Vision 2030

The Culture and Sustainable Development conference was held at the UN headquarters in New York. (SPA)
Updated 22 May 2019

UN hears culture and heritage are essential aspects of Saudi Vision 2030

  • Culture and Sustainable Development conference was held at UN headquarters in New York
  • Dr. Afnan bint Abdullah Al-Shuaibi, the general supervisor for International Relations at the Ministry of Culture, delivered the Kingdom’s speech

NEW YORK: UN hears culture and heritage are essential aspects of Saudi Vision 2030

At the United Nations on Tuesday, the Saudi Ministry of Culture highlighted the important role that diverse cultures and national heritage can play in the development of nations and promoting peace, and the ways in which the Kingdom is using this to encourage intercultural dialogue, diversity and openness.

The conference, titled Culture and Sustainable Development, was organized by the UN General Assembly in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to mark the annual World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Dr. Afnan Al-Shuaibi, the general supervisor of international relations at the ministry, delivered the Kingdom's speech during the event at the UN’s New York HQ. She said “culture is an essential part of the Saudi Vision 2030” and highlighted the “importance of preserving cultural and natural heritage to achieve peace, and the common endeavor of all countries to build a rich cultural future in which various kinds of culture and arts flourish.” She also described the vision and outlook of the ministry, and the ambitious initiatives it has implemented to develop the Saudi cultural sector.

The conference, which was based around the importance of cultural diversity and indigenous cultures to sustainable development, focused on local, regional and international experiences of this. It highlighted the relationship between culture and diversity, and how they link to local solutions to climate change and environmental challenges; offered views on the effective role of culture in providing decent employment opportunities and reducing poverty; social resilience and other aspects of sustainable development plans; and showed how culture, arts, education and the creative industries can contribute to the achievement of development goals and creative solutions in urban and rural areas, at local and national levels.

The event also included a panel discussion titled “Cultural Diversity as a Common Human Heritage.” It explored two themes: “Culture and Education: Foundations of Sustainability” and “Culture as an Instrument for Change, Innovation, Empowerment and Equality.”

Other issues were also addressed, including the importance of preserving cultural and natural heritage, the role of traditional knowledge and skills to promote environmental sustainability, the resilience of climate-related disasters and the impact of cultural heritage on identity preservation and peace building.

The Ministry of Culture took part in the event as pat of its efforts to promote cultural dialogue and showcase the Kingdom’s experiences in pursuing its ambitious cultural-development goals, which are an integral part of the transformations that are key to achieving Saudi Vision 2030.
 


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.