The Arab Student Association (ASA) at the University of North Texas hosted a fashion show on November 29, 2023, to celebrate and introduce the cultural staples of the Arab world. The event, which was part of the International Education Week, featured traditional and modern clothing from different Arab countries, as well as music, food, and dance performances.
The fashion show was organized by the ASA, a student organization that aims to promote awareness and appreciation of the Arab culture on campus and in the community. The ASA president, Sara Alharbi, said that the event was a way to showcase the diversity and richness of the Arab culture, which is often misunderstood or misrepresented in the media.
“We wanted to show people that there is more to the Arab world than what they see on the news,” Alharbi said. “We wanted to share our heritage, our history, our traditions, and our values with the UNT community and beyond.”
The fashion show featured clothing from 12 Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. The clothing ranged from formal to casual, and from traditional to contemporary. Some of the outfits were borrowed from local stores or community members, while others were brought by the students themselves.
Alharbi said that the clothing reflected the diversity of the Arab culture, which is influenced by various factors such as geography, religion, history, and politics.
“Each country has its own style, its own colors, its own fabrics, and its own accessories,” Alharbi said. “Some of the clothing is very similar, but some of it is very different. We wanted to show that there is no one way to dress as an Arab, but rather a variety of ways that express our identity and our personality.”
A celebration of music, food, and dance
The fashion show was not only a visual display of the Arab culture, but also a sensory experience that involved music, food, and dance. The event featured live music by Naseem Alatrash, a Palestinian cellist and composer who played traditional and modern songs from the Arab world. The audience also enjoyed a variety of dishes from different Arab cuisines, such as hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, and baklava.
One of the highlights of the event was the dance performance by Layalina, a professional dance troupe that specializes in folkloric and oriental dances from the Middle East and North Africa. The dancers performed several dances, such as dabke, raqs sharqi, and khaleeji, wearing colorful costumes and accessories.
The dance performance was followed by a dance lesson, where the audience was invited to join the dancers on stage and learn some basic steps and movements. Alharbi said that the dance lesson was a fun and interactive way to engage the audience and to break the ice between different cultures.
“We wanted to make the event more than just a show, but also a learning opportunity,” Alharbi said. “We wanted to invite people to participate and to have fun with us. We wanted to show them that we are not so different, that we share the same love for music, food, and dance.”
A positive feedback from the audience
The fashion show was attended by more than 200 people, including students, faculty, staff, and community members. The event received positive feedback from the audience, who expressed their appreciation and admiration for the Arab culture and the ASA.
“I really enjoyed the fashion show, it was very informative and entertaining,” said Maryam Khan, a sophomore majoring in psychology. “I learned a lot about the Arab culture and I was amazed by the diversity and the beauty of the clothing. I also liked the music and the food, they were very delicious.”
Khan, who is of Pakistani origin, said that the event also helped her to connect with other students from different backgrounds and to appreciate their cultures.
“I think it’s important to have events like this on campus, because they help us to learn from each other and to respect each other,” Khan said. “I think it’s a great way to celebrate our differences and our similarities, and to create a more inclusive and diverse environment.”
Alharbi said that she was very happy with the outcome of the event and that she hoped to organize more events like this in the future.
“We are very grateful for the support and the feedback that we received from the UNT community and the ASA members,” Alharbi said. “We are very proud of our culture and we are very happy to share it with others. We hope that this event will inspire more people to learn about the Arab culture and to join the ASA.”