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.


Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."