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.


Pakistan says looking forward to future ‘high-level’ engagements with UAE

Updated 47 sec ago

Pakistan says looking forward to future ‘high-level’ engagements with UAE

  • Foreign minister Qureshi meets UAE ambassador, appreciates support for Pakistan’s Expo 2020 pavilion covering 3,500 square meters
  • UAE ambassador reaffirms desire for ties with Pakistan based on “mutual respect, understanding and common interests”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received the ambassador of the UAE to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and conveyed his hope for enhanced “high-level” engagements between the two nations in the future.
The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and has supported Pakistan in the areas of education, health, energy and infrastructure development over several decades. It is home to more than 1.6 million Pakistanis — the second largest Pakistani expatriate community abroad.
Recalling his successful visit to the UAE in December 2020, Qureshi underscored the importance of frequent high-level visits from both sides, “which serve to continually provide impetus toward deepening and diversifying bilateral relations.”
“He looked forward to enhanced high-level engagements with the UAE, as soon as the global health situation improved,” the foreign office said in a statement, quoting the foreign minister referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Qureshi paid tribute to late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who he said had “contributed immensely toward strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.”
He acknowledged that the UAE and its leadership had “steadfastly” stood by Pakistan in its times of need.
“He stressed that the relationship benefitted from the warm sentiments between the leadership of the two countries, as well as the strong people-to-people linkages rooted in shared faith, values and culture,” the foreign office said.
Qureshi also appreciated the UAE’s support for Pakistan’s pavilion at the Expo 2020, a world expo to be hosted by Dubai originally scheduled for 20 October 2020-10 April 2021 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers have kept the name Expo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes.
Pakistan’s pavilion at the Expo will cover an approximate area of 3,500 square meters and exhibit Pakistani culture, investment opportunities and tourism potential in the largest exhibition ever staged in the Arab world in which 190 countries and 25 million people are expected to participate.
The UAE ambassador “hailed the strong UAE-Pakistan relations and pledged to work toward further strengthening and diversifying them in all sectors for the benefit of the two countries and their peoples. He acknowledged the positive contribution made by Pakistani Diaspora toward the progress and development of the UAE.”
The ambassador reaffirmed the UAE’s desire to develop bilateral ties with Pakistan on “the basis of mutual respect, understanding, and common interests.”