“I was privileged enough to be invited to a Saudi Arabian National Holiday. I was blown away by the experience, extravagance, and the hospitality. There were plenty of foods, music, dancing and mingling!”
When I was in my early 20’s, I wanted to be a flight attendant – until I flew fourteen times in one year! And thank God that He doesn’t always grant requests ’cause I realized that I cannot live on air.
Flying back from Bangkok to Yangon, I’ve met a young gentleman next to my seat. We chatted a little bit and because of the heavy turbulence at that time, I kept on talking with him to avoid my nervousness. We conversed about how good it is to be in Yangon (seriously) and some places where we can make it better (hehe). He is from Saudi Arabia and working in Yangon. We exchanged numbers and waved goodbye to each other after the plane has landed.
Two months have passed and I already forgot that encounter until one day, he messaged me. He is inviting me to the Saudi Arabia National Holiday. I was overwhelmed with pleasure! And I did not know that he is a Diplomat until I saw him on that very day.
I arrived at the Sedona Hotel (a five-star hotel in Yangon) and I was expecting something different like there’s a ritual ceremony going on and the people will look at me because I do not wear a hijab – but I was completely wrong! It was a modernized jaw-dropping decoration full of vibrancy and acceptance to every kind of people. There were monks sitting at the front table with the Ambassadors and Diplomats of the middle east countries like Qatar, Dubai, Egypt, etc’s. There were people of different colours standing and chatting with each other, with hijab or without.
Saudians welcome guests at the main door and greeted them with kisses and hugs. The kissing trend is their national norm and is practised often as an obligatory act to please the guest. Though, it is a NOT practice for foreign guests due to their non-familiarity with this culture. This kiss is not like a normal kiss on the cheeks. The Arabic people kiss in a different way to show their compassion for each other. They bring their lips parallel to other person cheeks and give a blow to lips at distance with a loud sound of kiss. The person who is considered most respectable like teachers and professors are kissed on their foreheads. Parents are being kissed on their feet.
The meals are the combination of various traditional and foreign foods. It was absolutely delicious!! There were different kind of spices I cannot describe. Eastern and western buffet dinners are served to keep in view of their guest lists.
Saudis like Chinese spring roll, Hamur chicken, Italian style lasagna, Lebanese bread and Indian samosas and tikkas. Saudis serve rice with cooked lamb over them in a large platter instead of separate bowls or dishes.
Saudis are very good hosts and serve their guests with open heart. The celebration are influenced by Arab rich culture but maintain their novelty. He explained to me the meaning of their flags, colours and the themes, the kingdom that is flashing from the screen and the men behind Saudi’s great, great weath.
It was truly a magnificent, extraordinary experience. I was always associating with Christians, Atheists, Buddhists, Hindu’s and more. This time, I have encountered people from the different world. Knowing that Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, I was expecting a hostile treatment from them in the outside world — I was totally mistaken.
They are people with a huge heart for their tradition, religion, country, and family. They are in need of acceptance throughout the whole chaotic world where they always play as a villain. Seeing the people with their happy faces from that event, I can smell unity and peace – and now this is what the “religion” is all about.
All in all, having been here was an amazing encounter where there are so many new things to be observed by foreigners and people belonging to other cultures.
The Saudi National Day commemorates the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz in 1932. It is celebrated every 23rd of September all Saudians around the world.
Have you been to any Saudi Arabian Celebration? I’ll be glad to read your story!
See you on my next post!