ISLAMABAD: Pakistani students, who secured first position at an annual cultural event at the King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in Jeddah, said on Tuesday that the competition helped them present a positive image of Pakistan by showing its cultural diversity to visitors belonging to more than 30 countries.
The third edition of KAU’s three-day annual cultural festival was held on January 17-19, featuring stalls and performances by university students from 32 countries.
Teams of students competed with each other in various aspects of culture, such as food, language, art and music.
“A total of 30 Pakistani students are studying here and all participated in the event with the aim to show the diversity of our culture to the world as students from different countries were participating in the event,” Ghazanfar Ali, who led the Pakistan team in the competition, told Arab News over the phone from Jeddah.
“This success will further highlight Pakistan’s positive image among Saudi people as well as other nationalities who visited our stall.”
Pakistan has very good historical places, variety of food and different cultural dresses, and the event provided an opportunity to show the richness of Pakistani culture to the world, according to Ali.
“We worked very hard as a team to pull this off and that was why we got the first position,” he added.
Another Pakistani student, Abdullah Zia, said it took them more than a month’s hard work to prepare for the performances and stall.
“We prepared all food items ourselves and assigned this responsibility to different students based on their region in Pakistan,” he said.
“In the morning sessions, we used to display stall and brief visitors about the unique aspects of different items there, and show Pakistani culture through traditional dance performances during the evening sessions.”
Zia said their stall presented food from different parts of Pakistan, traditional dresses, paintings of scenic places and artifacts.
Both visitors from within the university and the outside guests loved the Pakistani cuisine and culture, he said.
“It gave a good representation to Pakistan in the Kingdom and after the event, many international as well as Saudi students told us they did not know that Pakistani culture was so rich, colorful and diverse,” Zia said.
The Pakistani consulate in Jeddah helped these expat students arrange items of cultural significance, especially paintings.
Hamzah Gilani, a press counselor with Pakistan’s consulate in Jeddah, said such events enabled people from different backgrounds to come together and appreciate each other’s culture, thus strengthening diplomatic ties between nations.
“The norms of diplomacy are changing; cultural activities have become the most effective tool of public diplomacy,” Gilani told Arab News.
He said events such as the one held at the KAU provided a great opportunity to promote a “soft image” of Pakistan as countries could showcase the best of their heritage and traditions through art and culture.
“I am immensely thankful to the Saudi government for providing us an opportunity to demonstrate the true nature of Pakistan which has been buried under negative stereotypes for far too long,” Gilani added.