The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Students celebrate Saudi National Day

First-year+Mariana+Sesma+receives+a+free+henna+tattoo+from+Sukinah+Alzayer+at+the+Saudi+National+Day+celebration+in+the+Hughes-Trigg+Student+Center+Monday+afternoon.
Spencer J Eggers/ The Daily Campus
First-year Mariana Sesma receives a free henna tattoo from Sukinah Alzayer at the Saudi National Day celebration in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Monday afternoon.

First-year Mariana Sesma receives a free henna tattoo from Sukinah Alzayer at the Saudi National Day celebration in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Monday afternoon. (Spencer J Eggers/ The Daily Campus)

Decorated with traditional Saudi Arabian artwork, tents, rugs, flags and historical artifacts, the Hughes-Trigg Student Center was transformed Monday, making visitors feel as though they were on the other side of the world.

SMU students did the remodeling to celebrate Saudi National Day. Organized by SMU’s Saudi Students Association and sponsored by the Saudi Embassy, the event marked the unification of the Saudi people and the establishment of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

As a member of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), Saudi Arabia possesses about 20 percent of the world’s known petroleum reserves.

The country’s oil economy is nationalized, meaning that petroleum exploration and production are controlled by Saudi Arabian Oil Co.

SMU law student Ghafoon Alyami, president of the Saudi Students Association, sat under a draped tent on red and gold pillows staged with silver Arabic teapots and cups. He talked about the 30,000 people in the United States from Saudi Arabia and the 160 students from that country at SMU.

“We hope this [event] gives people a chance to understand us and to break stereotypes about people from Saudi,” he said.

Television monitors showed pictures of Saudi Arabian scenery while native music played in the background.

Students and teachers had the opportunity to dress up and take pictures in custom Saudi attire. Visitors had their hands and arms decorated with symbols of good luck at a henna tattoo station.

Brochures and posters were displayed around the room, offering insight into many aspects of Islam, including laws, currency, oil and the economy.

Since Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, nearly every aspect of Saudi culture and society, including government, education and clothing, is influenced by the religion. In fact, the Saudi legal system models itself after the Wahhabi interpretation (Shari’a) of Islamic religious law.

Engineering major Al-Otaibi Yasser hoped that sharing his native country’s traditions and history would give other students a better understanding of his home and who he is.

He also said the event was a good way to meet people who may be interested in joining the organization.

Tables were filled with traditional Saudi food and drinks. From meats to big bowls of dates, a staple food of the Saudi diet, there seemed to be something for any palate.

Self-proclaimed “foodie” Christene Dino stopped by the event to try out the assortment of Saudi food.

“The baklava and lamb dish are my favorite,” Dino said.

Female members of the organization dressed in formal attire and discussed the role of women in Saudi Arabia.

Through protests and hard work, women are slowly gaining rights and privileges in the country, which recently announced women will now be allowed to vote in municipal elections and run for local office.

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