Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Center for Intercultural Dialogue
in Andalusia October 2012
Following the successful organization of its session titled "Ibn Zaydoun" in Cordoba, Spain, in 2004, the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation received a noteworthy response from cultural, media, and academic spheres. Notably, the Foundation extended an invitation to a seminar addressing the subject of intercultural dialogue, concurrently with its literary seminar dedicated to the esteemed poet Ibn Zaydun. Eminent intellectual personalities representing diverse cultures, faiths, and civilizations participated in this intellectual exchange. The Foundation's endeavor primarily sought to facilitate the convergence of historical and prospective viewpoints, thereby consolidating the notion of "Dialogue of Civilizations" as a viable alternative to the concept of "Clash of Civilizations."
In addition, the Chairman of the Foundation, the poet Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, issued directives for the establishment of the "Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Center for Intercultural Dialogue," under the leadership of Professor Dr. Abdullah Al-Muhanna.
Since its establishment, the Center has organized several ongoing activities, one of which resulted in the Andalusian government issuing directives to incorporate Arabic language education in schools within the region of Andalusia.
Among these activities are:
1- Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arab Studies in Andalusian Universities: The Foundation signed a cultural cooperation agreement with Andalusian universities, commencing with the University of Cordoba on October 8, 2004. This collaboration led to the establishment of the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arab Studies, as well as conducting training courses in Arabic Language skills for tour guides in the region. To date, the number of graduates from the University of Cordoba's Chair has reached 950.
The Chair organized its inaugural training program for tour guides at the University of Cordoba from November 4th to November 10th, 2005, with full funding provided by the Chairman of the Foundation's Board of Trustees. This comprehensive educational course aimed to rectify misconceptions about Arab-Islamic civilization and present it accurately to foreign tourists, highlighting the historical and cultural facts of Andalusia. Titled "History of Andalusia and its Civilization," the course saw the graduation of 118 Spanish tour guides.
The second training program for tour guides was held at the University of Cordoba from October 10th, 2007, to April 2nd, 2008, under the theme "History and Civilization of Andalusia," and it produced 85 Spanish tour guides.
As for the third training program for tour guides, it was organized in collaboration with the College of Arts and Philosophy and the administration of the University of Cordoba from September 26th to September 28th, 2011. Titled "From the Arabs to the Moriscos (711-1616)," this course took the form of a grand international conference commemorating 1300 years of Arab-Islamic presence in Andalusia. The University of Cordoba consented to the Foundation's condition that the course be conducted in the name of the Foundation, with all related announcements, publications, and materials complying with the Foundation's guidelines.
During this conference, a collection of meticulous studies and valuable research on the historical and cultural achievements of the great State of Al-Andalus were presented, aiming to provide attendees in general and tour guides in particular with the latest developments in this field, recognizing their pivotal role in disseminating Andalusian heritage, history, and culture.
The conference witnessed the participation of twenty-five researchers specializing in Andalusian history and Arab-Islamic studies from twelve different universities and academic institutions, including the University of Cadiz, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, University of Jaén, University of Salamanca, University of Granada, University of Alicante, University of Huelva, University of Murcia, University of Barcelona[ap1] , Spanish National Research Council, Royal Academy of Cordoba, and the University of Cordoba.
Professor Dr. Juan Pedro Sala, the Director of the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arab Studies at the University of Cordoba, noted that the conference received distinguished attendance, with a significant number of university professors, translation department students, and students specializing in Arabic language studies, as well as the participation of a number of tour guides who were interested in the theme of the conference. Additionally, the conference proceedings will be published in a dedicated book in Spanish, with funding provided by the Foundation's sponsor. Subsequently, the book will be translated and published in Arabic.
On February 20th, 2009, the Foundation announced the signing of the academic and cultural agreement renewal between the University of Cordoba and the Foundation. The number of enrolled students and graduates from this academic Chair has reached 950 since its establishment.
Other activities related to the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arab Studies at the University of Cordoba, in collaboration with the Foundation:
The First National Seminar on the Arabic Language at the Faculty of Arts, University of Cordoba, titled "Arabic between Yesterday and Today." This seminar was considered the first of its kind in Spain. The research presented in this seminar was translated from Spanish into English, and the Foundation published these research papers in a dedicated book, with an introduction acknowledging the role of the Foundation in organizing and sponsoring this seminar.
2- The Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arab Studies at the University of Granada: The Chair has organized training courses for tour guides to rectify their perceptions of Arab-Islamic civilization and present it accurately to foreign tourists, considering the historical and cultural facts of Andalusia.
Additionally, the Chair has established its own dedicated website on the Internet and has conducted various courses in teaching the Arabic language at the University of Granada. These courses covered topics such as "Arabic calligraphy", "Arabic in Newspapers," "Specific Objectives of the Arabic Language," and a comprehensive course focused on "Arabic Language Education".
Approximately sixty students enrolled in this last course, which spanned over thirty hours, using the teaching methodology of Georgetown University for Arabic language instruction. Furthermore, the Chair has organized poetry evenings to celebrate Arabic poetry and its rich literary heritage.
The first training courses for tour guides at the University of Granada were held from January 29th, 2009, to February 19th, 2009, with a total of 89 tour guides graduating from the program. The second training course for tour guides at this university took place from February 18th, 2010, to April 15th, 2010, and saw the graduation of 57 tour guides.
On October 28th, 2010, the Chair organized social activities, including a lecture on "Arabic Calligraphy in the School of Arab Studies." Furthermore, from November 25th to November 23rd, 2010, an experts' meeting was held to develop a university action plan for studying "How to Correct Misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims" within the School of Arab Studies.
During the period from February 14th, 2011, to April 1st, 2011, the Chair organized several educational activities, including a course titled "Enhancing Arabic Language Teaching (Level 1)," aimed at the entire university community (professors, students, and administrative staff) at the Faculty of Arts, University of Granada. Another historical course on "A Journey Across the Islamic World: The Art of Architecture in Sacred Places" was held at the Faculty of Communications and Documentation, University of Granada, from April 6th, 2011, to May 30th, 2011.
Additionally, during the period from April 26th, 2011, to May 27th, 2011, the Chair offered a course in the Arabic language skills, focusing on the Moroccan dialect, at the Faculty of Arts, University of Granada. Alongside this, a conversational course in the Arabic language was conducted at the same university from April 26th, 2011, to May 27th, 2011.
Furthermore, the Chair presented a lecture titled "Al-Andalus and Granada in One Thousand and One Nights" at the Arab-European Foundation in Granada on April 13th, 2011.
During the period from May 20th, 2011, to May 21st, 2011, a workshop on "Formation of Terminologies in the Arabic Language" took place at the Faculty of Translation and the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Granada.
Moreover, from September 19th, 2011, to September 21st, 2011, the Chair organized a workshop titled "Arabic Calligraphy and Modern Design" at the premises of the Arab-European Foundation in Granada.
The number of enrolled students and graduates from this Chair since its establishment until now has reached 640 students
3- Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arabic Language and Culture at the University of Malaga:
The Foundation signed an agreement with the University of Malaga on July 10, 2008, to establish the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arabic Language and Culture and organize training courses for tour guides to rectify their perceptions of Arab-Islamic civilization and present it accurately to foreign tourists, according to the historical and cultural facts on Andalusia.
During the period from May 7th to June 27th, 2009, the Chair organized the "Malaga Islamic Exhibition" at the exhibition halls of the University of Malaga, with financial support from the Foundation. Additionally, several Arabic language educational courses were conducted for elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels from November 3rd, 2010, to April 13th, 2011.
Moreover, from January 17th, 2011, to February 23rd, 2011, an educational course on the history of Al-Andalus and Islamic heritage in the province of Malaga was held for tour guides.
On April 28th, 2011, a seminar was conducted, and on May 27th, 2011, the Chair presented the book "Perceptions of Muslims: Media and Mediation" by Professor Shakib Al-Sha'iri, a medieval literature history professor at the Faculty of Humanities at Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Tetouan, Morocco. The event was held under the patronage of the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair at the Euro-Mediterranean University, based in Granada, and was attended by a diverse audience of Moroccan and Spanish students at the University of Granada.
The Chair conducted its first training course for tour guides from January 19th, 2010, to March 18th, 2010, graduating 40 trainees. The second training course for tour guides took place from February 17th, 2011, to February 23rd, 2011, with 80 tour guides graduating from it.
The third training course, titled "Islamic Heritage of Malaga," started on January 16th, 2012, and concluded on March 14th, 2012. During this period, the Chair organized a lecture titled "The Masjid of Cordoba" on Monday, February 6th, 2012, delivered by Professor Pedro Marfil Ruíz, an archaeology professor at the University of Cordoba specialized in the restoration and related studies of the Mosque. The lecture was held at the Grand Conference Hall in the "Corte Ingles" building in the heart of Malaga. The day after the lecture, on February 7th, 2012, the Chair arranged a field trip to the Masjid of Cordoba with the participation of over forty tour guides from the city of Malaga.
During the trip, the speaker discussed the construction of the Masjid of Cordoba, its strategic location, and the successive expansions of the building that continued until the reign of Caliph Al-Mansur, who oversaw the final expansions that gave the Masjid its present form. The lecturer also highlighted recent excavations in the Masjid, which revealed arches dating back to the 8th and 10th centuries AD, as well as a room for ablution and a prayer area for women from the time of Caliph Hisham I, and another ablution room from the time of Caliph Al-Mansur. The lecturer also explored various Islamic architectural elements present in the Masjid.
The Masjid of Cordoba stands as one of the most remarkable architectural achievements by the Muslims. Situated near the Guadalquivir River, in the heart of Cordoba, it is considered, by European architectural historians, a pinnacle of global architectural artistry throughout history. It serves as an unequivocal testament to the Umayyads' mastery of engineering and architectural design.
The Chair organized several educational courses for elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels of Arabic language from November 2010 to April 2011. Additionally, a course on the history of Al-Andalus and Islamic heritage in the province of Malaga was arranged for tour guides from January to February 2011. Furthermore, a seminar titled "711: From Hispania (in ancient Latin) to Al-Andalus" was held on April 28, 2011.
4- Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Arab Studies at the University of Seville:
On March 27, 2009, the Foundation signed an agreement with the University of Seville to establish the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Chair for Teaching Arabic Language at the University of Seville and organize training courses for tour guides to rectify their perceptions of Arab-Islamic civilization and present it accurately to foreign tourists, according to the historical and cultural facts of Andalusia.
During the academic year 2011/2012, the Chair decided to organize a practical Arabic language course, a workshop on the importance of Arabic language and culture, and a literary competition titled "Seville in Arabic," in which students from preparatory and secondary schools in Seville participated. The Chair also hosted a series of lectures under the title "The Civilization that Opened Seville to the World," and collaborated with the University of Seville's publishing house to release publications about the Chair, including selections of Arabic Poetry in Seville and Seville in Contemporary Arab Literature.
5- The organization of the "Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain International Award in Historical and Cultural Studies of Al-Andalus" for the best research that addresses one or more aspects related to the history and Islamic culture in Al-Andalus:
In its commitment to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Al-Andalus across various artistic, literary, and scientific domains, which continues to be a subject of interest for researchers, the "Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation" offers the "Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain International Award in Historical and Cultural Studies of Al-Andalus" with a prize of thirty thousand US dollars (USD 30,000) for the best research that addresses one or more aspects related to the history and Islamic culture in Al-Andalus. This prestigious award seeks to encourage scholarly exploration and appreciation of the rich cultural legacy of the region, fostering further understanding and recognition of its significance in the broader context of human civilization.
From 2009 to 2012, the "Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain International Award in Historical and Cultural Studies of Al-Andalus" has been awarded to two Spanish researchers. Dr. Ana Arsegua received the award for her research titled "The Islamic Presence in the City of Abila from the 11th to the 16th Century." Additionally, Dr. José Ramírez del Río won the award for his research titled "The Deserts of the City of Istiyya in Al-Andalus: Badia Eastia and the Surrounding Areas."
Alongside the award, the Foundation prints the winning research papers in books, available in both Arabic and English. This ensures that the valuable research contributions on the historical and cultural aspects of Al-Andalus reach a broader audience and are accessible to scholars and researchers worldwide.
6- The establishment of the "Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Center for Arab Culture" at Yerevan State University in Armenia on January 8, 2018.
7- The establishment of the "Albabtain Center for Arabic Culture" at Leiden University in the Netherlands, which was officially inaugurated on October 10, 2018.