Tags: saudi | diplomat | name | translation

Saudi Rejects Pakistan Envoy on Name Issue

Monday, 15 Mar 2010 08:07 AM


In an unfortunate result of translation, Pakistani diplomat Akbar Zeb will not become the next Pakistani ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Zeb’s credentials seem in order: He is the former ambassador to the United States, India and South Africa. He held the post of High Commissioner Designate of Pakistan to Canada and is the former director general of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

But despite Mr. Zeb’s impressive career, the 55-year-old diplomat’s name proved to be the immovable hurdle. When translated into Arabic, Akbar Zeb means “Biggest Dick.” In a region that stresses modesty, particularly in public, this could not stand.

Akbar is a customary Muslim name for Arabic and non-Arabic speakers alike. The same cannot be said for Zeb. The name is common in Urdu, however in Arabic it is merely a slang reference to the male reproductive organ.

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