With Saudi roots, Al-Kazi made his impact on Indian theater

GLOWING TRIBUTE: Saudi Ambassador to India Saud Al-Sati
Updated 19 September 2016

With Saudi roots, Al-Kazi made his impact on Indian theater

RIYADH: “If we were to choose an individual, who formed the very concept of theater, it would almost certainly be Ebrahim Al-Kazi, the Indian theater legend with roots in Saudi Arabia,” said Saud Al-Sati, Saudi ambassador to India, recently in Mumbai.

Al-Sati was speaking at the inauguration of an exhibition titled “The Theatre of E. Al-Kazi” — named after the renowned Pune-born Indian theater personality.
The Saudi ambassador described Al-Kazi, 91, as “a theater legend whose contribution to the fields of theater, fine arts and culture has been extraordinary. He is acknowledged and credited for innovating the Indian theater, staging more than 50 plays in his lifetime, producing some of the finest actors and directors, besides contributing to preservation of Indian cultural history through his Al-Kazi Foundation of the Arts,” Al-Sati said, paying glowing tributes to Al-Kazi.
He revealed that Al-Kazi’s father Hamad was a trader from Unaiza in Saudi Arabia’s Qassim region, who subsequently settled in Pune where Ebrahim was born in 1925. Displaying interests in literature, arts, culture and dramatics from an early age, Al-Kazi continued his trailblazing works in India, the US, and Europe before becoming the director of the National School of Drama in Delhi and the Asian Theater Institute.
In spite of his early absorption in theater, Al-Kazi’s interest seamlessly moved to the visual arts. Al-Sati said that Al-Kazi, who has contributed immensely to the promotion of culture, originally belongs to Unaiza, in the Qassim region, where his father Hamad Al-Kazi was a trader. Hamad Al-Kazi, went to Bombay (now Mumbai) in the early 20th century and settled in Pune, where Ebrahim was born in 1925.
Referring to the life and achievements of Al-Kazi, with special reference to Indo-Saudi relations, Ambassador Al-Sati said that Al-Kazi’s remarkable achievements and contributions to Indian culture are examples of the many interactions that have existed between the Arab world and India from time immemorial. “When I first met Al-Kazi on Feb. 17, 2014, I was touched by his unique character,” said the diplomat, while recalling Al-Kazi’s greetings in the distinct Qassimi dialect.
Al-Sati further said that through regular interactions between the two civilizations, the ties between the Kingdom and India have developed to such an extent that many Saudi girls have “Hind” as their name and families have surnames of “Al-Hind,” meaning “India” in Arabic.
“Certain Indian goods like swords and other articles were very popular among the ancient Arabs, who also brought Islam to India around 14 centuries ago after its advent in 7th century AD,” he added.
He said that Abbasid Caliphate in the mid-8th century AD saw the founding of “Bait-ul-Hikmah” or House of Wisdom, where scholars translated ideas and scholarly works from all over the world into Arabic. It translated many Indian works including those of medicine, mathematics and astronomy, and literature, the prominent being the “Panchatantra,” a collection of ancient Indian fables in Sanskrit.
In fact, Panchatantra’s original Sanskrit text was lost after it was translated into Persian and the Arabs translated it from Persian to Arabic as “Kalila wa Dimnah,” and it reached Europe and other parts of the world, Al-Sati said.
Not only this, the envoy said that the great scholar Al-Beruni visited India in the early 11th century and wrote an encyclopedic book on India, presenting it in an enlightening form to the world, besides translating books from Sanskrit to Arabic and vice-versa.
He pointed out that India reciprocated in equal measure. “Various Muslim kingdoms introduced Arabic educational systems, attracted top learned men from the Arab world, and the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah also added to the cultural exchanges,” said Al-Sati, while adding that Arabic is taught in many colleges and universities across India, contributing to Arab culture and literature.
The event in Mumbai, which was addressed by Ambassador Al-Sati, was attended by top Indian artists and theater personalities. Present at inaugural ceremonies were theater stalwarts like Vijaya Mehta, Alyque Padamsee, Amal Allana and Feisal Al-Kazi, besides several educationists, actors and intellectuals.

Saudi Arabia pledges $3bn to Pakistan, defers oil payments

Updated 24 October 2018

Saudi Arabia pledges $3bn to Pakistan, defers oil payments

  • It was agreed Saudi Arabia will place a deposit of $3 billion for a period of one year as balance of payment support: statement
  • Pakistan is seeking foreign aid to help plug a massive budgetary gap which the Pakistan prime minister has blamed on the mismanagement of the previous administration

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion in support to Pakistan and allowed for deferred oil payments to help stave off a budget crisis.

The deal came as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attended the opening of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Earlier Khan met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss bilateral issues. It was his second visit to the Kingdom in just over a month.

“It was agreed Saudi Arabia will place a deposit of $3 billion for a period of one year as balance of payment support,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“It was also agreed that a one-year deferred payment facility for import of oil, up to $3 billion, will be provided by Saudi Arabia. This arrangement will be in place for three years, which will be reviewed thereafter.”

During his address to the gathering of global business executives, Khan also confirmed that Pakistan was in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new bailout.

Pakistan is seeking foreign aid to help plug a massive budgetary gap which the Pakistan prime minister has blamed on the mismanagement of the previous administration. During his election campaign, the former cricketer vowed to create 10 million jobs and establish an “Islamic welfare state.”

After a consultative visit last month, the IMF had warned that Pakistan needed to quickly secure “significant external financing” to avert a crisis. 

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have also discussed potential investment in mineral resources in Balochistan, the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces which borders Iran and Afghanistan.

Further discussions were held about a refinery project in Pakistan, the Finance Ministry said in the statement.

Pakistan’s external balance of payments represents one of the biggest challenges facing Khan.

The country’s current account deficit has ballooned as its central bank’s foreign reserves dropped to about $8.1 billion in October.

That was barely enough to meet the country’s sovereign borrowings between now and the end of the year.

The IMF expects Pakistan’s economic growth to slow to about 4 percent in 2019.

Pakistan is seeking to attract increased inward investment to help shore up its finances and Khan used the event as platform to talk about opportunities in sectors such as tourism, minerals, coal and gas exploration.

He also highlighted what he said were the successes of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, which has brought peace and stability to the country, and pointed to the significance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China has become an increasingly high-profile investor in Pakistan as Beijing pushes ahead with major projects such as the CPEC.