World Poetry Day serves as a poignant reminder of the universal language of art, literature, and music that binds us together.

As the ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Canada, I am deeply honoured to serve in a role that allows me to foster and strengthen the relationship between our two nations. This responsibility is not only a privilege but also a profound duty to navigate the intricate terrain of diplomacy, which encompasses many dimensions including political, economic, and cultural aspects.

Indeed, the relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia is a testament to the complexity and depth of international relations. It is a tapestry woven from historical legacies, geopolitical realities, and cultural exchanges, each thread contributing to the rich fabric of our bilateral ties.

Over the past two years, there has been a notable increase in Canadians travelling to Saudi Arabia for business purposes, or residing and working within the Kingdom. This influx has seen a significant rise, with figures reaching approximately 140,000 people. Simultaneously, the Kingdom has welcomed Canadian tourists in all parts of the country, further contributing to the dynamic cultural exchange and economic engagement between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Cultural exchange has a profound role in shaping the context of our bilateral relations. Saudi Arabia and Canada have embraced such an exchange through various initiatives, notably the Saudi government scholarship programs, which at its peak saw 15,000 Saudi students studying in Canada. This exchange is invaluable as it fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures, traditions, and values. It provides an opportunity for direct people-to-people engagement, facilitating friendships and collaborations. As we look ahead, we anticipate a continued growth in this number of students, recognizing the significance of such exchanges in promoting global citizenship. This is particularly true on occasions such as World Poetry Day on March 21, which serves as a poignant reminder of the universal language of art, literature, and music that binds us together.

 In the realm of diplomacy, where political and economic interests often take centre stage, the beauty and power of poetry offer a refreshing perspective, transcending barriers of language and ideology. On this day, as nations around the globe unite in celebrating the transformative power of poetry, I am reminded of the rich poetic traditions that both Saudi Arabia and Canada cherish.

Poetry, with its ability to evoke emotions, provoke thought, and capture the essence of the human experience, serves as a medium for cultural awareness. In Saudi Arabia, poetry holds a revered place in our heritage, weaving together the fabric of our society through eloquent verses that not only echo the beauty of the desert, but also the magnificence of the mountains, the generosities of the shores, the resilience of our people, and the timeless wisdom of our ancestors.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of all historic Arab poets is Hatim Al Tai, who lived in the northern Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century, whose home you can visit in Hail. It is largely unchanged from the times when Al Tai recited his poems. Visitors can walk through his house, experience the environment, and imagine what might have inspired his words. His reputation as a humble, kind, and generous person made him an Arabian icon.

More recently, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization paid tribute to Arab poetry by reading a selection of poems that reflect the diversity yet unity of the Saudi society, and the common human values that we all share.

Similarly, Canada boasts a vibrant literary landscape, where poets from diverse backgrounds enrich the tapestry of Canadian culture with their unique voices and perspectives. From the rugged wilderness of the Canadian Rockies to the bustling streets of Toronto, Canadian poets draw inspiration from the landscapes and experiences that shape their identity, offering profound insights into the human condition.

As we celebrate World Poetry Day, I would like to shed light on the fact that poetry has a very important function in our lives as a channel to express our feelings and needs, and transform our emotions. As the American poet, Eli Siegel once expressed in the shortest poem: “I—Why?”

Amal Almoalimi is the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Canada.