(MENAFN - Arab News) Al-anood cultural and civilization center organized a cultural exchange and familiarization program at al-tuwaiq palace on sunday in cooperation with major saudi non-governmental organizations (ngos).
the gathering consisting of a large number of diplomats and expats with their families was given valuable information about saudi culture traditions and beliefs besides its rich history and lifestyle.
the center also plans to offer arabic courses at its headquarters in the future.
the event featured works from charity organizations followed by a heritage and handicrafts show during which prominent english-speaking saudi professors highlighted some key pillars in saudi history including its flag and the arabic inscription on it.
speaking on the sidelines of the event nicolas lategan from south africa said there are misconceptions about saudi arabia in the western world. one of them is that saudi women do not enjoy their rights.
'however i discovered that women in saudi arabia are given a lot of respect and a special place in society" he said citing an example of a bank where a lady was given first preference to make her transaction in a long queue of men waiting to get to the counter. 'that was a beautiful gesture which would not have happened in the western world" nicolas said.
he continued 'i think the western world does not realize this and sees these women as separatists because of their veil but the fact is that women feel valued in the kingdom."
nicolas observed that expats should not depend for their views on the western media only. 'i think that every saudi wants to embrace different principles and is open to new ideas. but he also wants to be accepted by the rest of the world along with his culture and beliefs."
al-anood foundation's secretary-general youssef bin othman al-huzaim told arab news that the foundation specializes in establishing coexistence and acquaintances which is a principle inherent in islamic civilization.
'there is an invisible wall between foreign diplomatic missions and the saudi community so we see this is as an opportunity to break the ice" he said.
abudullah babteen co-head of the organization said 'we discovered that most expats live in the kingdom for several years but they have no idea about saudi society as their lives are confined to their commutes between work and home" he said noting that 'they only read about us from foreign writers or on the internet."
babteen said that one of the aims of the program which started more than six months ago was to inform the guests about saudi life and heritage from their own sources. 'we invited ambassadors hospitals ict companies university professors and others to be our guests and to share our culture with them" he added.