Seminar highlights cultural exchanges between Indians and Arabs

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Saudi Gazette
CALICUT, Kerala – India's civilization, culture and literature have played a significant role in enriching the Arabic language and literature and this cultural exchange strengthened Indo-Arab relations over the centuries, said Ashraf Abouel Yazid, an Egyptian novelist and poet who a winner of the Arab Journalism Award.
Yazid, author of several novels and travelogues, made the remarks while addressing an international seminar on “Cultural Exchange Between India and the Arab World Through the Ages” held at Farook College near Calicut on Wednesday. Dr. K. Mohammed Basheer, vice chancellor of Calicut University, inaugurated the seminar.
The seminar was organized jointly by Rouzathul Uloom Arabic College (RUAC) and the Department of Arabic Research at Farook College on the occasion of RUAC’s platinum jubilee celebrations. RUAC and Farook College are among the oldest institutions of higher learning in southern India.
Dr. Hussain Madavoor, secretary-general of Indo-Arab League, highlighted the seminar’s significance in light of India's growing relations with Arab countries. “About 5 million Indians, mostly from the southern state of Kerala, live and work in the Arab and Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE,” Madavoor told Saudi Gazette.
“We are witnessing significant progress in cultural exchange between Indians and Arabs, especially in language and literature, food, dress and other cultural aspects,” he said, adding that strong Indo-Arab ties would strengthen both economies.
“If we learn Arabic it will not only enhance our knowledge but also increase our job opportunities in the Arab countries,” Madavoor said while urging the Kerala government to establish a university for Arabic language.
He stressed the need to provide intensive Arabic language courses for Indians who wished to work in the GCC and other Arab countries. “This will help our workers earn high salaries. It will also reduce conflicts between Indian employees and their Arab employers caused by the language barrier,” he added.
“I have presented a proposal to King Abdullah Center for Arabic Language in Riyadh to provide an Arabic course to Indians intending to work in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries with the support of Saudi Embassy in New Delhi,” he said.
He wanted this course to be adopted by all 22 Arab League member countries for the benefit of Indians working in those countries. He said many Indian books including novels were translated into Arabic while many Arabic books were translated into several Indian languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Tamil and Malayalam. This has contributed to increased cultural exchange between the two sides.
He spoke about Shihab Ghanem, a poet from the UAE who translated many Indian books into Arabic. “The seminar aims to improve Indo-Arab relations,” said Madavoor, who is chairman of the organizing committee. About 350 delegates including academics from other Indian states took part in the two-day seminar.
Mohammed Nasser Bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni researcher and historian, emphasized the importance of the seminar, saying it shed light on the age-old cultural and commercial ties between India and Arab countries. “This seminar is a major gateway to enter the history of Indo-Arab relations,” he told Saudi Gazette.
Ali Jaber thanked Rouzathul Uloom for organizing the seminar and said such programs would contribute to strengthening bilateral ties. “Indo-Arab relations have been peaceful. Arab culture and values impressed the Indians while the Arabs admired India’s cultural achievements. Our relations are strong as they are based on knowledge, culture and history,” said Ali Jaber, who presented a paper on the history of Indo-Arab ties.
Professor K.T. Hamza, former head of the department of Arabic at Farook College, spoke highly about the seminar. “The research papers presented at the event were really informative and impressive,” he told Saudi Gazette. “We hope to convene of more such seminars and conferences in the future.”

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