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During the seminar titled "The Symbol of Cultural and Humanitarian Giving"
The Saudi Association of Literature and Writers recalls the virtues of Abdulaziz Albabtain

March 6, 2024

The Saudi Association of Literature and Writers, along with the Saud Albabtain Charitable Heritage and Culture Center in Riyadh, organized a seminar titled "Abdulaziz Albabtain: The Symbol of Cultural and Humanitarian Giving," in memory of the late cultural and literary figure Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain.

The seminar saw participation from distinguished figures from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including Dr. Abdulaziz bin Muhyiddin Khoja, former Minister of Information, and Mohammed Reda Nasrallah, former member of the Shura Council. Dr. Fawaz Al-Laboun, Head of the Literature Department at Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, also participated. The seminar was moderated by Dr. Ziad bin Abdullah Al-Drees, former Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO.

The evening was presented by Majed Ababtain, who highlighted the achievements of the late Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain. He emphasized Albabtain's numerous virtues, philanthropic efforts, and enduring legacy that transcended continents in the fields of knowledge, education, culture, poetry, literature, and humanitarianism. He described his passing as a painful loss not only for the Arab world but for the entire globe. This was followed by a screening of a documentary about the life of the late Abdulaziz.

"Albabtain: An Arab Cultural Power"

The seminar's director, Dr. Ziad Al-Drees, referred to an article by Dr. Ahmed Al-Assaf published in a Saudi newspaper, in which Abdulaziz Albabtain was described as embodying Kuwaiti soft power. Dr. Al-Drees pointed out that Kuwait has long been known for its skill in cultivating soft power culturally and media-wise for decades. However, he emphasized that Albabtain is not just a Kuwaiti force but rather an Arab soft power.

Al-Drees also mentioned the pivotal meeting when the late Abdulaziz Albabtain visited UNESCO in October 2006, coinciding with Ziad Al-Drees' appointment as the Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the UNESCO. He witnessed how the organization celebrated Albabtain's visit to deliver a lecture on "Ahmed Shawqi and Lamartine."

He further elaborated that UNESCO was filled with joy and celebration upon Albabtain's visit because he represented a unique and shining example that would not be replicated in culture.

"Abdulaziz Albabtain: A Ministry of Culture in One Man"

Under the title "Abdulaziz Albabtain: A Ministry of Culture in One Man," Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja stated: "Albabtain dedicated his entire life to raising the banner of culture, literature, poetry, and enhancing the value of the Arabic language."

Khoja continued, "In this seminar, adorned by the wings of culture and literature, the spirit of the late Albabtain hovers over us with his friendly smile and serene face, joyfully listening from beyond the veil to the tongues of the present echoing: 'Do not fear the loss of what you left behind, for the inheritors will not abandon what you have left abundantly.' Thus, his soul finds solace in knowing that the remainder of his life filled with love for the Arabic language and passion for poetry, will continue through his admirers. For it was his sincerity that sowed the seeds, his enthusiasm that nurtured them, and his love that watered them, ensuring that they would sprout, flourish, and yield their fruits."

Khoja continued saying that he had a friendship with the late Albabtain built on mutual respect, and they were brought together by various encounters. He also had the honor of receiving the honorary award from the Foundation last year.

"Cultural Capital Between Pierre Bourdieu and Albabtain"

Rida Nasrallah discussed "Cultural Capital Between Pierre Bourdieu and Albabtain," highlighting the significance of Abdulaziz Albabtain's contributions to education, culture, and poetic creativity compared to his counterparts among the philanthropic Arab elite, such as Saudi businessman Abdulmaksoud Khoja, Emirati Sultan Al Oweis, and Kuwaiti Dr. Suad Al Sabah, through their cultural councils and publications. These individuals are encompassed by the term "cultural capital" as defined by Pierre Bourdieu, the French sociologist and cultural theorist, who described cultural capital as symbolic capital acquired by individuals, cultural elites, or institutions, comprising distinctive abilities and talents.

From here lies the importance of Abdulaziz Albabtain's contributions to education, culture, and poetic creativity, in comparison to his counterparts among philanthropic Arab elites, such as Saudi businessman Abdulmaksoud Khoja, Emirati Sultan Al Oweis, Kuwaiti Dr. Suad Al Sabah, Palestinian Abd al-Muhsin al-Qattan, and another Palestinian, Abd al-Hamid Shoman. Their contributions through their cultural councils, cultural publications, and academic and literary awards underscore the significance of Albabtain's endeavors in these fields.

These individuals are encompassed by the term "cultural capital," coined by French sociologist and cultural theorist Pierre Bourdieu, as "symbolic capital" acquired by individuals, cultural elites, or institutions. It comprises the sum of distinctive abilities and talents possessed by the wealthy, reflecting their superiority, presence, and social status within the cultural field.

"Abdulaziz Albabtain: The Poet and the Human"

Dr. Fawaz Al-Laboun, in his speech titled "Abdulaziz Albabtain: The Poet and the Humanitarian," expressed, "This man has always enveloped me with his nobility and encouragement, especially during my student days. He would invite me to numerous international gatherings, broaden my horizons, introduce me to literati and intellectuals, and embrace me like a father embraces his son."

Al-Laboun further conveyed that Albabtain deeply loved his vast homeland, cherished its Arabic culture and language, and had a profound appreciation for both classical and contemporary Arabic literature.

"76500 Publications for Hundreds of Poets, Critics, and Researchers."

Dr. Abdullah Al-Haidari, Professor of Literature and Criticism at Imam Mohammed bin Saud University spoke on behalf of Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Abu Shawarib, who was unable to attend. He emphasized in a speech titled "Arabism in Abdulaziz Albabtain's Cultural Project: Figures and Meanings,": "There is no doubt that our discussion about the aspects of the contributions of this exceptional man, whose exemplary life and brilliant career illuminate us today, requires long hours. Focusing on that pure Arab tendency, distinguished by the deceased since his early youth, when he first became known for his Nabati poetry, but was later drawn to classical Arabic poetry and their artistry. He dedicated his life to his creativity and service, offering what no one else has offered throughout the ages. He established a pioneering institution in its field of Arabic poetry when he founded the Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Prize for Poetry Creativity 35 years ago. This institution has become a pivotal turning point in the course of contemporary poetry, awarding prizes over 18 cycles to "91" poets and critics from various parts of the Arab world."

Dr. Abdullah Al-Haidari stated that through the cycles of distributing these awards, including seminars and poetry festivals attended by hundreds of poets, critics, researchers, and journalists, along with the publications accompanying these events and others from the Foundation, the total reached "76,500" literary, critical, and cultural releases. Finally, commemorative shields were distributed to the speakers, followed by a dinner.

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