Saudi Students Celebrate Culture


(Photo by Chris Samuels)

(Photo by Chris Samuels)
(Photo by Chris Samuels)

Arab and American flags were flown together in the Union Ballroom on Wednesday night, as music played in the background.
The flag of Saudi Arabia, which is green and white, reads “Allah is the only God, Muhammad is His messenger” in Arabic. The colors waved next to the United States’ red, white and blue.
The event, hosted by the U’s Saudi Club, celebrated the 84th annual Saudi Day. Meshari Almutairi, a senior in political science, organized the event with the help of volunteers. The day took three weeks of planning to come together, and Almutairi said everything from the napkins to decorations were handmade.
Almutairi, who is from Saudi Arabia, said he wants everybody to know about the culture, especially the bringing together of two heritages, Islamic and Arabic. He said since there is a large number of Saudi students at the U, he wanted to give people a positive image about the culture.
The event began with children welcoming all who participated, tossing rose petals. The anthem of Saudi Arabia played with a subsequent recitation of the Quran.
Almutairi said when he first came to Utah he lived in Cedar City and felt “culture shock that I enjoyed.” He enjoyed living with his hosts and called them his second family.
Almutairi, as well as attendees at the event, wore traditional Saudi clothing. “Bisht,” an article of Saudi garb, is similar in formality to a suit and tie. Traditional clothing was presented in booths where people could try outfits on and take pictures.
In other booths, organizers hung up photos of past and present Saudi lifestyles. When he started at the U, Almutairi said a girl in one of his classes thought Saudis lived in an old-fashioned style compared to America. But, he said, the region is up-to-date.
“Our purpose is to show the U.S. how we were then and now,” Almutairi said.
Bayan Al Talhi, a freshman in nursing and a student at the U’s English Institute, said she attended the event because she should be there to represent her cultural heritage.
“We should be proud about Saudi,” she said.
Murooj Bughdady, also a student at the English Institute, said the event is great for people to learn about the Saudi culture. She said there are many Saudis at the U and hopes other students will understand them more.
[email protected]