Pashto, Punjabi added to list of languages at holy mosques in Saudi Arabia

In this file photo, Muslim pilgrims speak to an Urdu translator in Makkah during Hajj on Aug. 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

Pashto, Punjabi added to list of languages at holy mosques in Saudi Arabia

  • Move to facilitate translation of speeches and lectures for pilgrims in their local dialect
  • Pakistani nationals one of the largest groups to perform Hajj and Umrah every year

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to facilitate pilgrims from Pakistan, authorities at the two holy mosques in Saudi Arabia have added six new regional languages to a list for those performing Hajj and Umrah through the year, officials said on Monday.
In addition to Urdu, all lectures, speeches, and instructions will now be available in Pashto, Punjabi and Balochi as well.
The initiative, undertaken by the General Directorate of Languages and Translation at the General Presidency – which looks after the affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque – will have translators adept at the three new languages.
According to the Director General of Languages and Translation, Emad Baaqeel, the General Presidency also has sign language facilities for those with speech and hearing imparities.
“Translation of speeches and lessons are available through FM frequencies, on the website of the General Presidency, on special translations devices available within the Two Holy Mosques and at Arafa in Hajj, and applications on mobile devices,” Baqeel added.
During Hajj this year, the Kingdom had deployed hundreds of volunteers to assist non-Arab pilgrims from across the world at airports in Makkah and Madinah.
Pakistani nationals usually constitute the third largest group – after Saudis and Indonesians – to perform Hajj every year.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Hajj and Umrah Ministry had launched a Twitter service to address pilgrims’ basic questions in Urdu and 12 other languages.


Evacuation procedures in place for Pakistanis if Lebanon protests escalate

Updated 19 October 2019

Evacuation procedures in place for Pakistanis if Lebanon protests escalate

  • No immediate plan to evacuate Pakistani expats from Lebanon
  • Over 700 working class Pakistani expats reside in Lebanon

Islamabad: Standard operating procedures are in place to evacuate Pakistanis from Lebanon in case the unrest in Lebanon escalates, a spokesperson at Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Arab News on Saturday as anti-government demonstrators in Lebanon directed fiery, violent protests at a political elite they blame for a failing economy.

Angry protesters took to the streets across Lebanon on Thursday, agitated by rising inflation and cumbersome tax reforms. Major roads in Beirut including those leading to and from the airport remain blocked by mobs which routinely set tires ablaze on key routes and highways.

“SOP’s are in place for the evacuation of Pakistanis if matters escalate,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to media. He added the foreign office was monitoring the situation.

“There are between 700-800 Pakistani expats in Lebanon, however they are not being evacuated,” he said. 

“It’s a developing situation, and the ministry will apprise accordingly.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri gave his government partners a 72-hour deadline to agree on reforms that could ward off an economic crisis and hinted that he may otherwise resign.