Coffee Hour concludes with presentation on United Arab Emirates


A crowd packed the multi-purpose room in the International Student Center for the final presentation of the Coffee Hour Series for the fall semester. The crowd was greeted by four students from the United Arab Emirates dressed in traditional clothes from their country on Friday.

The presentation began with Abdulla Al-Saiqal, junior in architectural engineering, giving an introduction to the United Arab Emirates, that was incidentally celebrating its 40th National Day on Friday, Dec. 2, as it was founded on the same day in 1971.

Al-Saiqal described the geography of the United Arab Emirates and gave a brief history of the country. According to Al-Saiqal, only 15 percent of the country’s population of 8.2 million is native.

“Eighty-five percent are expatriates,” he said.

Al-Saiqal shared many facts about the United Arab Emirates. There was also a brief video shown depicting the growth of the nation from its inception to its rapid modernization.

“Even though our area is small, there are people from 200 countries living in U.A.E.,” Al-Saiqal said.

The presentation was informative and laced with humor at the same time.

“I think there is a romantic connection between them,” Al-Saiqal said of a picture depicting a United Arab Emirate citizen standing next to his camel, as if to kiss it.

Al-Saiqal said that camels are given names like other pets are around the world.

He went on to explain the booming tourism industry and the modernization that is happening in the United Arab Emirates. The country is also a place of the superlatives, according to Al-Saiqal.

The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world and it also houses the largest aquarium in the world. The Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai, is the tallest building in the world at 830 meters with 160 floors. The roller coaster at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is the fastest roller coaster in the world, topping off at 220 kph according to Al-Saiqal.

Other activities one could indulge in are the desert safari, racing on the sand dunes in the desert, camel races and more. An interesting fact about the camel race is that the camel is ridden by a humanoid robot which, in turn, is controlled via remote by a person driving in a car behind the camel. This is because of the many fatalities that have occurred in the past while camel racing, according to Al-Saiqal.

Al-Saiqal discussed the culture of the United Arab Emirates natives and their various music and dance forms. An interesting fact about how they greet each other is that men greet other men by touching noses and women by touching cheeks.

“We greet by hand and touching noses,” he said. He also narrated an awkward funny moment in connection to this greeting style that happened to him here in Hale Library.

Rashed Abdulla Alshaer, a seventh grader and son of Abdulla Alshaer, demonstrated a traditional dance form called the Al Yola which involved rhythmic steps and simultaneous twirling of a toy gun in his hand.

The presentation was widely well-received by the packed audience.

“It was really good. They covered all aspects of their country,” said Hira Munaf, an exchange student from Pakistan.

“He was informative and he was funny,” said Brian Terkildsen a soldier from Fort Riley who had his first Coffee Hour experience on Friday.

“I enjoyed it. I have never been to anything like this before,” said Amy Hartle, a Manhattan resident who was also attending her first Coffee Hour session.

Traditional food from the United Arab Emirates was also served at the end of the presentation.

“It is a different experience, but it is good,” Hartle said.

Terkildsen noted the influence of culture in the food and thought it to be very different.

“Some things do not transfer from one culture to another,” he said.

Coffee Hour is now a K-State tradition and it continues next semester with five more presentations by people from diverse countries such as Australia and Pakistan.

“Coffee Hour is a really good way to get to know about a country, their culture, food, etc.,” Munaf said.