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New Delhi: Indian scholars on Sunday welcomed initiatives to preserve historical ties between India and the Arab world, after representatives of the Saudi King Abdulaziz Foundation held seminars on Arab heritage in India as part of the New Delhi World Book Fair.

The Kingdom was the guest of honor at the second oldest book fair in India, which was held this year from February 10 to 18 at the Pragati Maidan Convention Center in the Indian capital, and was attended by 2,000 exhibitors from all over the world.

The Saudi exhibition included a display of books, manuscripts, Arabic calligraphy, traditional musical instruments and handicrafts at the festival, while officials and scholars from the Kingdom participated in seminars to discuss India’s historical and cultural relations with the Arab world with their Indian counterparts.

It was organized by the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives, which over the years has established several links with Indian organizations to promote the Arabic language and heritage.

“We have signed MOUs (memorandums of understanding) with many Indian institutions and institutions for cooperation… This country (India) has done many things to promote Arab heritage. These efforts are spreading throughout Indian villages and cities. “We want to maintain these relations,” the foundation’s CEO, Turki Al-Shuwaier, said during a symposium on Saturday.

In September, the Foundation signed a preliminary agreement with the National Archives of India to enhance research cooperation, including by facilitating researchers from the two countries to conduct their studies and exchange archival expertise.

Indian scholars who participated in the discussions, which focused on the contributions of Indian institutions and scholars to Arab heritage, said that such events are important.

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“Such seminars are important to reaffirm our historical ties and tell the public how deep the relationship between India and the Arab world is,” Professor Habibullah Khan of Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi told Arab News on Sunday.

“The Arabic language is not new to India; It came with the Muslims and even before the Muslims 2000 years ago. We had trade relations with the Arab world dating back to before Islam… After (Indian) independence, Arabic began to be taught in 53 universities across India. They have produced wonderful research that enriches the Arabic language, history, heritage and literature.”

Professor Naseem Akhtar, also from Jamia Millia Islamia University, spoke about the various links between India and the Arab world.

“Books written in Arabic in India on Islamic jurisprudence or other aspects are very popular in the Arab world. India has also contributed greatly to the field of Arabic poetry. In the field of linguistics as well, India played a major role in the development of the Arabic language.

He added that many important Arabic manuscripts can be found in libraries across India, including the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad and the Maulana Azad Library in Aligarh, which is known as one of the largest university libraries in Asia.

He pointed out that the King Abdulaziz Foundation played a “pivotal” role in “promoting and preserving the Arabic language and literature.”

He added: “I really appreciate the Foundation organizing this symposium and discussing the historical links between India and the Arabic language. This is an acknowledgment of our common heritage and history.”

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