Saudi Night


Event focuses on exposing students to Arabian culture

Students were given a glance into Saudi Arabia’s culture. Hosted by the Saudi Students Organization on Sept. 27, the event provided students the chance to eat authentic Arabian food, see Arabian dances and experience other aspects of Arabian culture.

Saudi Night participants started with dinner, consisting of drinks, salads, the main entrees and dessert. Lamb and chicken kabseh, the respective meats cooked in a tomato and onion broth; chicken shawarma, a roll of pita bread; tandoori chicken, a Mediterranean spice-marinated and broiled meat; pasta and salmon were the main entrees. For dessert, participants enjoyed the kunafah, a cheese pastry coated in a syrup, and basbousa, a cake covered in a sweet syrup.

Kevin Ingram, a sophomore political science major, and Anyesha Sarkar, a graduate student in biology, both enjoyed the food served.

“The food was awesome, oh my goodness,” Ingram said. “It was filled with so much flavor and everything had its, you know, unique touch to it. Definitely homemade.”

Sarkar, an international student from India, said, “[t]he food was amazing and was really different from my cuisine at home.

After the meal, some Saudi students performed their national dances. The actual practice for the dances began three months ago, and the hard work put into the practice definitely paid off according to Sarkar.

“And, wow, the Arabian dance, how graceful it was. I felt like dancing myself,” Sarkar said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Ingram enjoyed the dances as well. “I thought the dances were so unique, and they gave me, like, the most insight into their culture, so I was definitely pleased about that.”

Mahmood Alnasser, a freshman computer science major from Saudi Arabia, said, “I would like to share my culture with others … some people think in a strange way about our culture, about us, so it’s good to show the people of Brookings, or the entire United States, our culture…”

President of the Saudi Students Organization Metalb Alharbi, a graduate student in pharmaceutical science, had many goals in mind for the night.

“One of them, to live and enjoy the night—the different programs in the night—, to have fun and to change from school or from studying, to have … a break from studying at some point. The other point, we’d like to show them our culture, to let them see what we have, what is our culture, what Saudi Arabia [is] and how glad we are to be here in South Dakota and Brookings and SDSU.”

If those were the goals of Saudi Night, the students agreed.

“I thought Saudi Night was a great experience to open my horizons to what’s out in the world,” Ingram said. “Definitely gives you insight to people’s cultures and how they live on a day-to-day basis. And it does definitely add another element to what we have in the States.”

Sarkar agreed with Ingram and learned from the night’s experience.

“The way they actually opened up. . . [that] there’s much more than oil in their country. That was really good,” Sarkar said. “And the way they presented it. It was fun, but the underlying message was really insightful and I really liked it. You know, we just know their culture from the outside, like, oh, they’re famous for their oil and they’re rich people, but there’s something more to it. That was really educational, yes.”

After the meal and performances, students were able to try on traditional Arabian attire, have their name written in two styles of Arabic and get a henna tattoo.