It is rightly said that language is intrinsic to the expression of culture. It fosters feelings of group identity and solidarity and serves as the means through which the culture, its traditions and shared values may be conveyed and preserved. The same feelings were recently expressed by Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry and Saudi Culture Minister Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud.  The duo swapped messages in Arabic and Urdu, respectively, during a Twitter exchange following the former’s a two-day visit to Riyadh, where he attended a ceremony that highlighted the new Saudi cultural initiatives. 

The Information Minister, in one of his tweets in Arabic, called Prince Bader the “frontline warrior” of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision of “cultural revolution” in the Kingdom. In another such comment, he described Saudi Ambassador to the United States Reema bint Bandar Al Saud as an “impressive princess” who “truly reflects the women inclusion in strategic affairs” of Saudi Arabia. In response, Prince Bader wrote back in Urdu, thanking Fawad Chaudhry for participating in the ceremony, and highlighting the depth of relations that exist between the two friendly countries.

With the recent opening up and outreach strategy of the Saudi Government and the visit of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Pakistan, the cultural linkages between countries that have been tied with decades of political and economic cooperation, are being scaled up. The two countries are in talks for increasing cultural exchange between them for positive social and economic outcomes.

The Kingdom is making efforts to revive its entertainment sector as part of a sweeping socioeconomic reforms plan called Vision 2030, and the Pakistan Government is keen on supporting and participating in this cultural revival. One of the first news in this regard is Pakistan lending support to the newly established performing arts academies in Saudi Arabia by sharing the expertise of Pakistani actors, directors and other artists, like calligraphers. Both sides also agreed to form a joint working group in order to explore the possibilities of collaboration in filmmaking, drama production and performing arts. The working group will also identify the areas of cooperation in the field of performing arts, fashion designing and training of the artists.

The Saudi Government also proposed participation of Pakistani artists, musicians and persons from performing arts in different events being organized by Saudi Arabia in a months’ time. This step will provide Pakistani writers, directors, actors and other artists an international platform, where they can showcase their talent. Furthermore, Pakistan is expected to participate in a music festival in Saudi Arabia this month. Last year, legendary Pakistani singer, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan participated in the festival which was held at Riyadh’s King Fahad Culture Center and was widely appreciated. The potential of cultural linkages between the two countries is immense.

Keeping in mind that Pakistani drama series have become immensely popular and are able to attract a large audience worldwide, the Government of Pakistan announced that the Pakistani government would make arrangements for dubbing of local TV dramas into Arabic in order to further facilitate their export, this time to Saudi Arabia in order to make an impact through the small screen. He said the Saudi minister also promised to take up the matter of availability of Pakistani dramas and entertainment on the flights of Saudi Airlines which will boost the industry and its revenues.

Another decision taken at this visit was allowing screening of Pakistani movies in Saudi cinemas. Stressing the need for making Pakistani films to be screened to boost the cinema business, the Saudi team also requested cooperation of Pakistan for setting up cinema halls in Riyadh and Jeddah. In order to promote tourism in Pakistan, the government of Pakistan has waived off the condition of visa and fees for Saudi citizens, and facility of visa on arrival has been provided. 

This is just the beginning. The Pakistan- Saudi relations are bound by strong bonds of people to people relations, brotherhood and immense respect. The strengthened cultural ties will not just enhance the people to people bond but also be a means for economic activity and prosperity for both the countries.