The newly founded Arab Student Association hosted its first Arabian Night event at 5 p.m. April 29 in Portland State Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom. Around 400 people attended, 100 more than the association said it anticipated.
“PSU records show that last Arabian Night was held back in 2009, but it is the first one for the new Arab Student Association that we founded last winter term,” said Mustafa Almuzel, one of six students who founded the association. The other founding students include Auf Al-Aufi, Safa Al-Dulaimi, Ali Al-Gafly, Yasmeen Khellah and Noura Shams. So far the group has organized smaller events like Arab Movie Night.
Although Almuzel organized large cultural nights such as Saudi Night in 2013, organizing events as a new student group presents its own challenges. “The main difficulty for us was funding because we are a newly founded group, so we didn’t have a budget,” Almuzel shared.
The event provided Iraqi cuisine, and many attendees wore formal Arab clothing such as thobes, a traditional male garment. In addition to the food, the event showcased performances by students and volunteers. The performances represented multiple traditional and contemporary Arab cultures, such as students performing traditional Saudi and Omani dances as well as a rendition of the the 2017 Egyptian hit song “3 Daqat.”
“Every person participated in this event through organizing or performing did it voluntarily and out of love for the community,” Almuzel said. “I felt very proud to be part of this group [that] brought this celebration back at PSU to represent the Arab culture and spread happiness among people.”
Almuzel expressed hope for Arabian Night to become an annual event with more success to come. “Students were excited for it,” he said, “and we are hoping at ASA to have many students who take on future leadership roles and continue what was started and take it to another level.”