Sure, size matters. But anyone reading a cheeky tale about Pakistan's high commissioner to Canada online these days shouldn't believe an inch of it.
That's the message Miangul Akbar Zeb is sending this week after he became the butt of a "practical joke" online.
A handful of blogs reported that Mr. Zeb had been denied accreditation to become an ambassador to Saudi Arabia because his name translates to something dirty in Arabic.
His name, originally spelled Zaib but changed by his family to Zeb, means "someone with good countenance," the High Commission in Ottawa said yesterday.
But in Arabic, his middle and last name, Akbar Zeb, translates to "biggest dick."
"It's a practical joke someone played on the Internet," he says. "It's just a hoax story."
He says he's dismayed by the way this misinformation is spreading, saying the reports are misspelling and misinterpreting the meaning of his name and fabricating news about diplomatic movements. Other reports, which he stresses are false, say he'd even tried to secure ambassadorships in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates but was turned down for the same reason.
Mr. Zeb was sworn in as high commissioner in June, 2009, and is only nine months into his three-year term in Ottawa. There have been no discussions with Saudi Arabia to take up an ambassadorship, he says, and Pakistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia has only served four months in his post.
"I don't know what to think of it," he says. "All I can say is they've distorted my name."
While he says his office is not taking the joke very seriously, "we have to get to the bottom of it," he says.
According to a recent article in the Arab Times, Saudi officials were overwhelmed by the mere idea of the name and therefore couldn't let Mr. Zeb become Pakistan's representative in their country (perhaps jarred even more by the prospect of public chuckles and guffaws).
"One can only assume that submitting Zeb's name to a number of Arabic-speaking countries is some unique form of punishment designed by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry - or the result of a particularly egregious cockup," wrote David Kenner in his Passport blog on ForeignPolicy.com.
There was nary a peep from Arab Canadians when Mr. Zeb was sworn in to Pakistan's top Canadian post last June.
Still, the online sniggers were plenty this week and some even highlighted the naughty translation months ago.
Bloggers in the Middle East had already been buzzing back in November when they heard the name of Pakistan's high commissioner to Canada.
"[H] should be the pakistani ambassador to an arabic country!!! that would be hillarious!!!!" wrote one poster at Qatarliving.com, a social network for the Arab emirate.
While blogs poked fun at the name, some argued the teasing is misdirected - or at least not all that humiliating.
"It could be worse," wrote commenter Angriest_Buddhist on the Foreign Policy blog. "At least it's not 'smallest.' "
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