Students celebrate National Day of Saudi Arabia a little differently this year

Lama Alanazi, junior in interior design, tells students about the many achievements of Saudi Arabian women at the National Day of Saudi Arabia celebration in the K-State Student Union courtyard on Oct. 6, 2016. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

For the first time ever at Kansas State, men and women celebrated the National Day of Saudi Arabia together.

Students and faculty from all walks of life gathered in the K-State Student Union courtyard to celebrate the 86th National Day of Saudi Arabia. The event was held Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, even though the official holiday was Sept. 23.

The event was designed for students to take a walk through the past, present and future of Saudi Arabia. There were various stations set up throughout the courtyard to inform students on the culture of Saudi Arabia and to eliminate any preconceived misconceptions.

The Saudi Club at K-State has celebrated this holiday since 2006, but this year was a little special.

Abdullah Alhaqbani, senior in industrial engineering, is the event organizer and club president. He said this is the first year that men and women have united to create one event.

In years’ past, men and women have celebrated this event separately. But after Alhaqbani took the presidency in February, he decided it was time to change that.

“This year is kind of special because it is the first time women and men have had one event,” Alhaqbani said. “To be honest, it is not normal to put on an event and talk about everything, even Saudi women, when there are no women at the event.”

The event not only incorporated women, it featured Saudi women and their achievements.

Nora Alrayes, graduate student in mathematics, has attended the event in the past, but this was the first year she was allowed to volunteer.

“We need to show the American students our achievements, because most of the American students just think women stay home, and don’t do anything, but we do,” Alrayes said.

The particular booth Alrayes was stationed at featured women’s achievements and their vital role in society. Other stations featured traditional food, different aspects of life in Saudi Arabia, cultural exhibitions, pictures with Saudi customs and guests’ names written in Arabic.

This event provided Saudi men and women the chance to unite and provide their peers a window into their cultural traditions.

Caroline Henery, freshman in animal sciences and industry, said she had little knowledge of Saudi Arabia previous to the event. Henery said she was fascinated by the various stations throughout the courtyard, but one in particular surprised her.

“Obviously we knew it was a different culture when we walked in, but there was a lot I didn’t know,” Henery said. “They wrote our name in Arabic, and that’s when we learned that they write from right to left.”