Aramco Overseas President, Talal Al-Marri, attended the latest installment of the Aramco - Leiden Lecture Series on Arabic Language and Culture in the Netherlands, supported by the 2017 Out of Kingdom Citizenship program.

The partnership with Leiden University, which has grown over the past few years, is due largely to the work of its Arabic faculty, which continues to make available (free to public) its research into Arabic language and culture through its Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS). 

This latest lecture was presented by visiting University of Oxford academic, Professor Julia Bray, focusing on the expression of emotions in medieval Arabic literature, an area of research, which is already established in European studies but less understood in the Arabic language.

Aramco Overseas President Talal Al-Marri commented, “I would like to acknowledge the contributions of Leiden University in demonstrating the diversity of voices in Arabic literature to people from many walks of life.  In addition, I would also like to commend Professor Bray’s research which I believe is instrumental to enriching discussion around this body of knowledge.”

Attendees of the lecture included leading European academics in the field of Arabic literature, advanced studies students at the University and members of the public, to whom these lectures are made accessible.

While Leiden University’s Arabic faculty is dedicated to its core mission of educating tertiary-level students in Arabic studies, the partnership with Aramco has enabled the university to open the findings of this academic research to a much larger group of the public, who otherwise would not necessarily have access to the findings of their research. 

A key example of this cooperation was the blockbuster 2013 exhibition Longing for Mecca at Leiden’s Museum of Ethnology, Museum Volkenkunde. The attendance exceeded all expectations that the museum created a semi-permanent Hajj wing with the support of Aramco.  

Leiden’s University Library also possesses some of the oldest and most unique copies of ancient Arabic texts in its Oriental Manuscripts collections, many of which senior Aramco management have viewed while in the Netherlands.

The headquarters of Aramco’s European regional offices  have a longstanding history of collaboration with the University, the Netherland’s oldest; which is no coincidence given the headquarters were located in the Dutch town of Leiden until 2009, before moving to nearby The Hague. 

The formal relationship between Aramco and Leiden University is now in its fifth year and stems from an initial partnership in 2013, when Aramco first supported Leiden University’s anniversary of 400 years of scholarship in Arabic language studies since the initiation of the Leiden University Chair of Arabic in 1613, Europe’s first in this field.

Leiden University offers these public lectures by outstanding academics who highlight the richness of Arabic language, culture and the insights they provide into contemporary audiences in the East and West.