Ashley Lyn Sourapas
Pride, laughter and excitement filled the Campus Center to celebrate Saudi National Day.
Approximately 220 people attended the event at 7 p.m. on Saturday with University President Devorah Lieberman welcoming the crowd in Arabic.
“Anytime we can understand our global neighbors and appreciate peoples’ differences and uniqueness is a valuable opportunity,” Lieberman said.
The ballroom was filled with green décor to match the national flag. Guests wore green in traditional dress-wear called shomagh.
The flag of Saudi Arabia was on display in the ballroom and green balloons led up the stairs to the entrance. Pictures were also on display outside the ballroom.
The Saudi national anthem started the event followed by the US national anthem.
The Saudi National Day on Sept. 23 is equivalent to July 4 in America.
“As a Saudi, today means a lot to me,” said Lamees Alkhamis, computer engineering major at UC Riverside. “Today is special because it marks the day our kingdom was united.”
“Back home we set off fire works and have large parties,” said Rasha Alkhamis, student at UC Riverside in the MBA program.
A variety of cultures came together to celebrate the day, learn about traditions and enjoy food.
“I don’t know anything about Saudi culture; I came to learn,” Faezeh Fathizadeh, bioengineering major at UC Riverside, said.
Brochures and pamphlets were handed out for attendees who wanted to know more about the Saudi culture.
Before dinner was served, a slide show of past leaders, cultural traditions, history and how Saudi Arabia became united was shown. The slide show provided visual information for those unfamiliar with the culture.
“We eat thabeeha, which is a large lamb with rice under it,” said Alkhamis.
Coffee and dates were placed on each table followed by an array of Arabic foods.
A traditional dance called arthrah was performed with the dancers using swords as props and moving in an uniformed motion.
“It’s a very happy and wonderful day to come together and celebrate, as if we were in Saudi Arabia, with traditions that I have been doing since I was born,” said Ibrahim Maralani, a freshman at Cal State San Bernardino studying language.
Ashley Sourapas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.