"Don't believe everything you read in print. Sometimes, the press gets hold of a story and, before checking all the facts, goes off half-cocked."
A bit rich coming from them, if you ask me. In any case, there you have it. I suppose apologies are due all round, especially to the hapless Mr. Zeb. Of course (and I'm not trying to have my cake and eat it too), if one follows FP's caution as outlined above, one should not take their retraction at face value either... But it did always sound like a wishful story.
The Original Post:
I held off on posting this just in case this turned out to be some sort of spoof. But apparently not. My Arabic speaking sources confirm at least that the translation is correct. And as Foreign Policy's blog reports in considerable double entendre, the news has made it to Arab language newspapers.
Ambassador Miangul Akbar Zeb (Embassy Photo: Lee Berthiaume)
So, without further ado, here's how Salem-News of Oregon reported this delicate matter:
Saudi's Reject Pakistani Diplomat Whose Name Translates to 'Biggest Dick'
Tim King Salem-News.com
In Saudi Arabia, size does count.
(SALEM, Ore.) - 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.
Akbar Zib is no newcomer to politics, in fact you could say he's a pretty big deal. This long-ranging high level diplomat has worked with some of the largest members of world governments, players charged with negotiating the outcome of the world's current events.
He most recently served as High Commissioner Designate of Pakistan to Canada, and prior to that he was the ambassador of Pakistan to South Africa,. He also served in that capacity in Washington from 1983-87, and New Delhi from 1994-2000.
He earlier worked at the Pakistan headquarters as section officer from 1982- 83, director from 1987-94 and director-general from 2000-2003.
Miangul Akbar Zib, also whose name news agencies sometimes refer to as Zib, was born on 15 February, 1954. He holds a Masters degree.
According to the Arab Times (as reported by FP) the poor Mr. Zeb's credentials have previously been rejected on the same basis by UAE and Bahrain (he is currently the Pakistan High Commissioner in Canada). Are foreign relations between the "brotherly Islamic countries" or any states really so dependent on misinterpretation of slang?
I wonder what would happen if Mr. Lund became the Swedish ambassador to Islamabad. Or had Laura Bush ever visited Pakistan. May be that's why Begum Abida Hussain never referred to herself as Mrs. Fakhr Zaman Imam when she was our ambassador to the US. I guess that would also rule out sending anyone named Foqia on any diplomatic assignment in the English-speaking West. Not to mention Rabia Butt.