JEDDAH: French-speaking Saudis recently hosted a cultural event for the Francophone community for the first time in Jeddah, at the Quorana campsite.
The French Club of Jeddah hosted the first Saudi Francophone Night to showcase Saudi culture as part of the Francophonie Festival held in March each year.
The honorary guest, French Ambassador to the Kingdom Ludovic Pouille, said: “I am pleased to participate in this Francophone evening organized by the French Club of Jeddah at this new tourist site of Quorana on the occasion of the Francophonie Festival of this year.
“More than 88 countries have joined this community, as there are 321 million French speakers and 51 million people learning French.”
Visitors of various nationalities attended the event, designed by Fahd Al-Safah with recreational facilities that included tents and models of traditional buildings from different regions, such as the Hijazi House, the Southern Stone Fort, the Jizaniya Nest, the Najrani House, the Hail House, and the Heritage Well of Al-Mahala.
“We aimed to offer an immersive experience for visitors by presenting our culture and heritage in an entertaining way,” says Layan Damanhouri, a Saudi graduate of Sciences Po Paris where she studied political science.
While presenting a segment on the empowerment of Saudi women under Vision 2030, she said: “We chose to include a theme on women’s empowerment within the program to showcase the developments and milestones over the years, as well as to highlight important female figures in different fields who have achieved major successes.”
Sumaya Jokhdar, a graduate of English literature from King Abdulaziz University, said: “It was a wonderful experience thus far and an opportunity to present our traditional dress of the Hejaz region to visitors.”
Activities included camel riding in the desert, a visit to a national heritage museum displaying traditional dress, cultural items and materials, in addition to a French poetry recital translated into Arabic.
Ibrahim Al-Ghamdi joined the group after completing his law degree at Bordeaux University last year. He said: “We are here to celebrate Saudi tradition and values, including generosity, hospitality and maintaining strong family ties.”
Saudi pastry chefs Afrah and Mohammed Mashat, graduates of Le Cordon Bleu, the renowned culinary institute in Paris, participated in the event by presenting French sweets with a Saudi taste, such as macarons flavored with Saudi coffee.
A photo exhibition was also offered by photographer and decorator Fahd Al-Safah highlighting the diversity of the Kingdom’s regions.
The Francophonie Festival is held every March to promote the French language and cultural and linguistic diversity.