By Benjamin Rivera
Dominican University’s Saudi Club hosted a cultural immersion event Sep. 27 to highlight their modern and traditional culture in honor of the 88th National Saudi Day. Students, faculty members, and staff were deeply engaged as the social hall transformed into a presentation of the Arabic culture including food, music, a calligraphy artist, henna tattoos and a large tent with traditional clothing and instruments.
Looking towards the future, senior biology major, Mohamad Khalid Alattas, talked about the Saudi 2030 vision. “With lots of help from the citizens, we’re building a new city, Neom, to decrease the unemployment rate and improve the economy,” he said. Others focused on a more traditional aspect – putting henna on women’s hands and guest artist, Asma Ghamdi, wrote peoples’ names in traditional Arabic calligraphy.
Vice President of Saudi Club, Faisal Aedh Mushabbab Alfayi, explained that the purpose of the nights event was to educate and welcome other students to his culture. “I hope they learned what Saudi Arabia really is and I hope they don’t trust the media and see Saudi Arabians as terrorists.” Alfayi has been at Dominican for four years studying Finance. The event was important to him because it linked modern Saudi Arabia to its past. When asked what his favorite part of the event was, he said it was the tent. “It is part of all Saudis’ culture – tradition,” said Alfayi. “Our grandfathers and great grandfathers used to live in tents.” The tent was displayed with a thick red and tan striped cloth hung along two corner walls with a matching rug, traditional instruments and dishes.
Junior nutrition major, Janet Recendez, learned many new facts about the Saudi community. “I learned about their dances and the different types of sweets they have,” she said. “I learned that they eat with their hands, which is really different from my culture.” The traditional Saudi food – rice with grilled meat and chicken – was a favorite, drawing a long line of students. Hummus served with rice and kabab were also one of the popular dishes. Recendez said, “My favorite part of the event was the dresses and the attire the Saudi men had.” She was able to try on a Jlabyia that matches the color green on Saudi Arabia’s flag. Jlabyias are commonly worn by women during celebrations. The event is an ongoing tradition at Dominican to engage students in specific elements in the Saudi culture.