The Socio-Cultural, Historical, and Political Allusions in the Translation of the Saudi National Day Poetry: “Peace, O Gracious King” as a Case Study

B. Al-Azzam, M. Al-Ahaydib, M. Shalaby


The aim of this paper is to explore the cultural, social, political, and linguistic aspects of Saudi poems sung on patriotic occasions such as the Saudi National Day. The focus of the study will be on “Peace, O gracious King”, a poem composed by Dr. Abdulaziz Khuja and sung by the famous Saudi singer, Mohamed Abdu in 2010. The use of eulogy has a long tradition in Arabic poetry. It could be traced back to the classic ages. Classic Arab poets used to live on the eulogy’s bounty granted to them by rulers. For them, eulogy was both a means of surviving and to have the privileges of being close to the ruler. Furthermore, it was a way to fame and good reputation.
The language of the song gains its power not only from its musicality and lyricism but also from its literariness and poeticness, the most obvious aspects of Abdul-Aziz Khuga’s songs. The song is written in al-fushā or what is known as the modern standard form of Arabic. Dr. Khuga, presently the Minister of Information and Culture in Saudi Arabia, is a Saudi poet. He is one of the contemporary poets who use standard Arabic to express the concerns of the Saudi people using simple language, though exceptionally of poetic and high style. It is a language that can be said to be appealing and accessible to a large audience in society. This language is set up to answer the new needs of the modern Saudi society. Khuga’s language has also managed to bring the audience closer to poetic songs, particularly the national ones.
The poem/song is permeated by the age-old metaphor of the King as “pater patriae”; “father” to his subjects’ or “the father of the country”. The representation of the King as the nation’s father taking care of his subjects and having allegiance to the nation’s stability is a salient feature of national songs. In addition, the poet populates his song with other native traditional symbols – the palm tree is an example- that are rooted in the Saudi world and are reflective of its indigenous cultural experience. As will be shown in the discussion, the Saudi national culture, natural world, and common heritage are the sources for his material. He relies on the past experience of the Saudi people to express their present situation and future aspirations. A study of the local national poem/song examined here is meant to give readers a hint at: First, the Saudi notion of what a nation is. Second, the social, cultural, religious, historical, political and emotive implications of the song, and Third, the difficulties encountered when translating such a eulogizing poem/song into English and the procedures the translator should adopt to overcome such difficulties.


Eulogy; National day; Cultur; Arabic translation challenges

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