Second Annual Arabic Night: A Night of Celebration

Zhe(Mia) Wang

The second Annual Arabic Night hosted by Arabic Student Association(ASA) took place at Saturday night in Great Hall, Memorial Union. The event was filled with Arabic foods, cultural spirits and attracted about 500 hundred attendees.

Matthew Heinrichs, Senior in World Languages and Cultures also the vice president of ASA, introduced the purpose of Arabic Night event.

“This event is to raise awareness about the Arabic culture,” said Heinrichs. “There are a lot of stereotypes about Arabic culture in News media and other sources. This is our chance to show exactly what the culture is, show the diversity, show that people have an everyday life everywhere, and the amazing things you don’t see in the media.”

The event features 15 booths for attendees to explore, including Henna tattoo, calligraphy, photo booth and a bazaar. Among the 15 booths, eight of them represented different Arabic countries. They had posters and display boards to show attendees the countries’ traditional holidays, clothing and architecture.

Maktoom Alseiari, ASA member and Senior in Chemical Engineering, comes from United Arab Emirate and was at the booth representing his country at the event.

“This event really shows non-Arabic people our culture. Some of them may have a negative point of view [of us]. But once they know how we are and what’s our culture, they might change their minds,” said Alseiari.

There are also a number of non-Arabic students attended last night’s event.

Anne Dinges, Junior in Agronomy, heard about this event from her friends in International Student Council.

“I think it’s important for Midwestern people in America to experience different culture, because we don’t get a lot of cultural diversity in our hometowns,” said Dinges. “The university provides an approach for us to get in touch with different culture from different countries.”

The event started with attendees exploring the cultural booths and getting Arabic cuisine from the buffet which were all vegetarian and vegan, aside from the kofta. Then the ASA members showed the audiences a traditional folk dance called Dabke on stage. The highlight of the night had to be the Arabic music band’s performance.

The name of this group of musicians is Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble. They performed modern and traditional Arabic music for the Arabic Night.

Michel Moushabeck, director of Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble, said their music is like all music in the world. It’s about sending culture, joy and compassion to listeners and viewers.

“Things are different and things are tough right now,” said Moushabeck. “Lots of awful things happened in this past year. All of those are misleading and misrepresented the Arabic cultural and Arabic people. We want things that every other American want.”

Moushabeck discussed the meaning of his music and the reason his ensemble travels to perform.

“Music is universal. We want to introduce Arabic music to as wide of an audience as possible through concerts, workshops and recording. We travel all over to give such performances and lectures, so we can bridge differences and spread the beauty of our culture and music.”

Another interesting segment of the Arabic Night was the cultural fashion show. ASA members and volunteers wore traditional clothing from Arabic countries and showed the audience the unique beauty of Arabic apparel. The fashion show featured clothing from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, etc.

The models walked through the audience and posed on stage. They showed the everyday dress and clothing, also the celebratory clothing.

After the fashion show, another recess took place for attendees who arrived late to visit the cultural booths and take pictures in the photo booths which has a backdrop with a set of Moroccan doors on it for people to take photos in front of something they may have never seen.

The ending of the night is the ASA members taught the audiences how to do the Dabke dance. Everyone got up and had a frisky dance party.

ASA board members said this year’s Arabic Night was a huge success. They expected 400 people to attend; however, 500 hundred people showed up for Saturday’s event. They are happy and relieved to see people were having fun and willing to explore and accept culture from different countries.