JEDDAH, 15 May 2005 — Thousands of students in Singapore experienced the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of Saudi Arabia recently at an exhibition titled “Meeting the Middle East — People and Culture.”
The festival of culture was organized and sponsored in part by Saudi Aramco, which provided many of the main exhibits and photos showing facets of Saudi life — the people, culture, cities and also the oil industry.
A youth forum was part of the event in which Saudi poetess Nimah Ismail Nawwab shared her views about life in Saudi Arabia through her book of poems, “The Unfurling.”
She read a poem titled “The Coming” at the opening ceremony. Nimah talked to educators, professionals and students at various institutes about themes such as youth, change and perspectives on Arabia. She also gave a presentation to members of the respected think-tank, the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS).
Students were able to experience sitting in a Bedouin tent and taste Arabic dates and coffee. “This is really fantastic. I’ve never tasted coffee like this. I also learned Saudi Arabia is more than just deserts. Its cities are very well-developed,” the spokesman for Saudi Aramco said quoting 14-year old student Denise Tan.
The event was supported by the Singapore Ministry of Education and was held in conjunction with International Friendship Day at one of the island’s leading schools, CHIJ St. Theresa School.
Hawazi Daipi, senior parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Manpower, opened the exhibition in the presence of Saudi Ambassador in Singapore Dr. Amin Kurdi, Saudi Aramco’s Marketing Manager Abdulsalam Al-Hazmi and members of the diplomatic community.
Daipi emphasized the need to build bridges between the two cultures and expressed his hope that exhibitions such as this could promote closer social and economic ties.
The idea for the exhibition came from a photo exhibit organized last year by Saudi Aramco titled “Patterns for Prosperity and Progress,” which was about life in the Kingdom.
The forum touched on topics including the common aspirations of Saudi youths and Singapore youths, and how ties between the two countries can be developed.
“While the exhibition is amazing, the forum was also an eye-opener for our students. It showed how our two cultures share some universal values and views in areas like the family, friendships and in issues like globalization,” said Mary Martens, a teacher.