Arab Day fills UCC atrium with food, fun and facts

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Arab Day

Joyce Wang

YO, MAN, YEMEN IS THE SHIT. Ali Basahi explains the georgraphy and architecture of Yemen for Arab Day in the UCC yesterday.

The University Community Centre atrium was overflowing with Middle-Eastern artifacts, music and aromas as people dressed in traditional ensembles shared their culture Tuesday.

Arab Awareness Day offered Western students an opportunity to travel across the Middle East, sample simmering dishes and chat with representatives from different countries, without leaving the UCC.

Arab Students’ Association President Hassan Aluraibi said the aim of the annual event is to raise awareness about the Arab world in a fun way. It brings together club members and members of London’s Arab community and provides an opportunity to share their culture with others, he said.

Students drifted toward the alluring smell of an arrangement of Arab foods, including Manyeesh, a bread appetizer covered with cheese, spinach or beef. Humus and fattoush were also on display.

At the Yemen booth, Western student Muna Basaha spoke about a 23-story castle built mostly inside a rock. The Arab World originated in Yemen and its ancient society and interesting architecture reflects this, she said.

Zaina Nasser, the club’s VP-social, discussed the United Arab Emirates. Tourism is a key industry in the booming country, she said. Although small, the Emirates has numerous attractions. Zaina showed pictures of The World in the Emirates, a man-made arrangement of 300 islands that form a world map.

Zaina also talked about dune surfing and dune bashing, which are recreational activities in the desert. In dune bashing, a professional driver takes you on a stomach-turning ride over the sand dunes. Zaina compared it to a roller coaster ride.

“Sometimes the car even tips over on two wheels,” Zaina said.

Michelle Hanna and Norine Khalil represented Egypt, the most populated country in the Arab world. They said by showing pride in their country, they hope to show Western the true Arab culture.

“[All] the negative things that are happening there right now are drowning out the real culture,” Norine said.

“People need to be more open about the Arab culture instead of just focusing on the politics surrounding it,” Michelle said.

Arab Awareness Day was a followup to Brescia’s Arab Culture Show; by bringing the event to a more central location on campus, the club hoped to reach out to those who missed the Brescia event.

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