Friday, February 05, 2010

An ambassadorship lost in translation

This is apparently not a joke, though it does offer a moment of comic relief. From David Kenner, who blogs on Middle Eastern matters for Foreign Policy.

--Jeff Weintraub

Despite having served for years as a distinguished Pakistani diplomat, Akbar Zeb reportedly cannot receive accreditation as Pakistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The reason, apparently, has nothing to do with his credentials, and everything to do with his name -- which, in Arabic, translates to "biggest dick":
In Saudi Arabia, size does count.

A high level Pakistani diplomat has been rejected as Ambassador of Saudi Arabia because his name, Akbar Zib, equates to "Biggest Dick" in Arabic. Saudi officials, apparently overwhelmed by the idea of the name, put their foot down and gave the idea of his being posted there, the kibosh.
According to this Arabic-language article in the Arab Times, Pakistan had previously floated Zeb's name as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, only to have him rejected for the same reason. One can only assume that submitting Zeb's name to a number of Arabic-speaking countries is some unique form of punishment designed by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry -- or the result of a particularly egregious cockup.

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