With the smell of exotic spices, Arabic music, colourful artifacts and clothing and traditional dancing, the Student commons building was given a Middle-Eastern makeover March 7.
The Arab League of Ottawa held its ninth annual Arab Day event in the student commons to commemorate the anniversary of the intergovernmental organization.
The day-long event brought out lots of students and staff, who got to experience traditional food, dances and exhibitions that gave them a real taste of Arab culture.
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Algeria were a few of the countries featured in the exhibition. Each country had their own table, tent or booth that showcased their regions cultural food, art and clothing.
“This is an important celebration. Arab culture has become an integral part of Canadian multiculturalism,” said Omar Alghabra MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“At a time when we’re seeing heightened polarization and tendencies towards xenophobia, I’m proud to say that our country, our government and our Prime Minister has been a champion and an advocate for multiculturalism,” he added. “This event helps us recognize the importance of our diversity, our various perspectives and our various experiences that make us who we are.”
Mohammed Saif Al Shehhi, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates and Dean of the council of Arab League Ambassadors was in attendance to represent the UAE. “We are proud to say Canada and the Arab world enjoy strong and beneficial relations, with common principals, mutual respect and cooperation,” continued Al Shehhi. “There are more than 1,0000 Canadians from Arab regions, it is important to showcase this kind of engagement with the Canadian culture, the Canadian people, to show the heritage and culture of the Arab states.”
The event was held in hopes of educating people who aren’t familiar with the Arab culture and showcase the unique heritage. According to many of the region representatives and volunteers in attendance it was also held in hopes of crushing any common misconceptions or preconceived notions some may have of the Arab countries across the Middle-East and North Africa.
“Many Arab countries are similar but still have their differences, you can’t paint them all with one brush,” added Ambassador Al Shehhi. “Algonquin is one of the leading educational institutes in Canada, with this event we are targeting the youth, to educate them more on Arab countries.”