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Visit ambassadors to the University Library Special Collections

Special visit of seven ambassadors of the Arabic-speaking world to the University Library

On 18 December 2019 – the UN Arab Language Day – the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS) and the Leiden University Library welcomed the ambassadors of Morocco, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Lebanon, Qatar, and Iraq to view the renowned oriental manuscript collection of the Leiden University Library.

Nathal Dessing, Director of LUCIS, and Kurt De Belder, Director of University Libraries welcomed the distinguished guests. Curator and specialist in Arabic manuscripts, Arnoud Vrolijk, showed a number of manuscripts that illustrate the special bond between Leiden University and the Middle East: from the drawing of a horse in a manuscript on veterinary medicine, endowed in the seventeenth century by Levinus Warner, to Snouck Hurgronye’s photographic account of Mecca. The visitors quickly spotted the small mistakes in the Arabic translation by Leiden scholar Scaliger of an official letter to ‘the rulers of East India’ from 1600.

After the break Petra Sijpesteijn gave a talk about the long history of Arabic studies at Leiden University and the diversity of the School of Middle Eastern Studies today. Finally, Peter Webb regaled the guests with a story of an Andalusian love triangle that turned into a classic of Arabic literature and culture – Ibn Zaydun’s rejection letter and the erudite commentary Sarh al-‘Uyun by Ibn Nubata.

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