More than 400 students, faculty and members of the community gathered at the Pointe in the Walter Pyramid on Friday to join in learning about Saudi Arabia’s culture and traditions at Saudi Arabian Night.
The Saudi Students Organization held the event and according to its Facebook page, the group’s mission is to unite and offer assistance to new and existing Saudi students and to present Saudi culture to the community.
Saudi Arabian Night had been previously held in the University Student Union ballrooms and this was the first time it was held at the Pyramid.
“It had been my dream to have an event inside the Pyramid, one of the most important parts of CSULB,” Saudi Students Organization President Abeer Abbas said. “I think it’s important to educate CSULB about Saudi Arabian culture. We can show we are friendly and open minded people and we want them to be able to appreciate our country.”
Someh Aodajani, a freshman finance major at Harbor College in Wilmington, said the point of the event is to bring Saudi students together.
Guests could enter a mini-museum showcasing the country’s dagger markets, architecture, wedding traditions and learn about Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
Daggers are part of Saudi customs and are also used in dances. They can cost thousands of dollars as they are hand-made and typically constructed from gold and white gold.
People were treated to Arabic coffee, live musical performances, dances, dinner and a cake designed as the Saudi Arabian flag.
Dean of Students Jeff Klaus spoke at event and praised the organization for the importance they have on campus.
“For these last four years, you have been ambassadors and have helped Saudi students adjust to living and studying in a new country,” he said.
The crowd was singing and clapping along to a performer playing an oud, a pear-shaped string instrument that he explained is important and cherished by the Saudi people. Performances of poems and songs in Arabic ended the night before Abbas cut the cake.
Freshman industrial engineer major Abdulwahab Alshammari said some students feel homesick so the club helps Saudi students gather and see people from their own country. Although the group focuses on Saudi students, everyone is welcome.
Abbas said it’s been a little over a month since she was elected president of the organization and that it was great for her to work on planning and organizing the event while remaining a graduate student with a 4.0 GPA.
“I’m very proud to have my professors, deans, the director of international education and international students gather here,” Abbas said. “This is the best thing I’ve done in my life – to present my story in front of the number of people that were here, to share my experience as a Saudi Arabian woman.”