Over 64 AAFSW members enjoyed a wonderful evening during the “Arabian Night” event that Sheila Switzer, AAFSW’s Program Chair, put together and Barbara Reioux, AAFSW’s Office Manager, helped organized very successfully.
Our evening started with a guided tour of the impressive King Abdullah Cultural Hall (KACH). KACH is a small museum with state of the art technology and is a part of the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission and was established in 2014. Our tour began with a spectacular ten-minute video about the hall and a behind the scenes explanation of its creation over the span of one year. Then, our members split into three groups and visited the hall. Our tour guides explained the significance of all the artifacts, originally from Saudi Arabia, which are exhibited in the hall, which itself is divided into two parts — old Saudi Arabia and modern Saudi Arabia.
In addition to miniature models of Islam’s holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the museum also highlighted King Abdullah’s scholarship program, which was started in 2005 and has sponsored over 300,000 students worldwide, half of them in the US. According to our tour guides, among the scholarship recipients, 30% are women and 70% are men and all of whom, after they receive their education abroad, return back to Saudi Arabia to help bring new technology and ideas for the continuing progress of their communities.
After this very educational tour, attendees continued on the Arabian Night experience by indulging in a great dinner at the Aldeerah Restaurant. Dr. Mody Alkhalaf, former assistant attaché for cultural and social affairs at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission in Vienna, Virginia, is the owner of the restaurant, which is among the top fifty restaurants in Northern Virginia. It is a culinary mecca that serves an authentic Bedouin dinner under an authentic Bedouin tent with live “Oud” music played by a soloist musician in the background. Our group enjoyed such delicacies as lentil and shoufan soup, chicken kabsa, lamb mandi and savadiva grilled fish, and finished the gastronomical experience with desserts like kinafah with cream and basbosah, along with Saudi coffee and dessert dates.
AAFSW is happy to have offered such a delightful event that brought together so many of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide!
AAFSW Program Chair