Georgetown University’s Qatari Student Association (Al Liwan) hosted the entire Education City and local community for their Qatar National Day Heritage Festival which was held recently on the school’s campus, where traditional food, arts, and cultural performances were at the heart of the fun and educational event. Georgetown’s heritage festival is celebrated early every year because the university is closed for winter break in December.

Festival performances began with a recitation of the Holy Quran by one of Georgetown’s Qatari students followed by the national anthem. Also gracing the stage was famed Qatari poet Hamad al Buraidi, artist Nasser AlKubaisi on the oud, musicians Abdulla AlNajar and Yassine Ayari on the oud and from Qatar Music Academy, artist Dham AlKuwari and Kanun player Essa Aldosseri. The last cultural performance was a traditional sword dance.

Visitors were able to enjoy other festival highlights such as a photo booth featuring traditional costumes and scenery, famed Qatari graffiti artist Mubarak AlMalik who demonstrated Arabic art, and a mini gallery featured the works of Qatari artist Moza AlKuwari and Qatari cartoonist Abdulaziz Yousef. A modern tent with majlis invited everyone to relax on beautiful textile cushions where traditional horsemanship gear was displayed on loan from Al Enna, a Souq Waqif vendor specializing in traditional Qatari tents and other equipment. Other vendors who joined this event were Karak Maganees, altseenat café (90’s café), Glamour hospitality, My Mini Pony, Alsumu and many others. Additionally, a local Qatari craftsman carved detailed model dhows and henna artists created beautiful designs on visitors’ hands.

Haya AlKuwari, a junior majoring in Culture and Politics, and the founder of Al Liwan, said:

The Georgetown Qatar National Day heritage festival isn’t only for Qataris but for students, staff, faculty, and anyone who wants to know more about our culture and heritage. Many people are only here for a few months such as exchange students and visiting faculty and never really get the chance to interact with locals. They might not get the opportunity to experience our culture and traditions or know about the country’s history.

In Oxygen Park, the rolling green lawns that surround the university’s Education City building, a stage was set up featuring performances by local Qataris who all volunteered their services for the festival.

‘We wanted all performances to be Qatari,’explained Haya.

When I was younger, the events for National Day featured artists who were indeed talented, but who weren’t locals. However, there is no shortage of Qatari talent, hence we will be featuring our very own Qatari poet Hamad AlBuraidi, artist Nasser AlKubaisi and Kanun player Essa AlDosseri and all performances will be linked to this year’s theme.’

And of course, there was food, and lots of it.

A group of Qatari women prepared traditional delicacies, like lgayimat, or dumplings, and khubz rgag, or flat bread. We also had Karak Maganees kiosk and altseenat café kiosk, something all Qataris are familiar with, and a buffet featuring Arabic food as well as Qatari favorites cooked in the homes of our student organisers.’

Dr Gerd Nonneman, the dean of GU-Q, said:

It provides a wonderful platform for cultural exchange, and an opportunity for our students to support community development, while at the same time learning about professional event management.’

Al Liwan Qatari Student Association goal is to promote and increase awareness on the GU-Q campus about the language, culture and social heritage of Qatar through creative mediums. Club leaders aim to engage foreigners with Qatari culture through cultural exchange trips, cultural conversations, national film screenings and the club’s biggest annual event, the Qatar National Day celebration.