Perhaps the most recognizable symbol associated with Ramadan is the fanoos, a brightly-colored hanging lantern. The fanoos is understood across linguistic, cultural and geographic lines to be representative of the light and celebration associated with Ramadan and subsequently, Eid al-Fitr. Though flames were not actually lit in lanterns on the evening of Saturday, April 29th, the beauty, warmth and joy provided by fanoos was abundant at our Eid Celebration.
Qatar America Institute for Culture, in partnership with Advancement of Arab & Gulf Women in America, was pleased to welcome esteemed guests to our United & Empowered: Arab and Gulf Women Leaders Eid Reception. Amongst our guests, we were honored to receive women Ambassadors from Kuwait, Mauritania, Tunisia and the United States. As women from eleven different Arab nations arrived on the red carpet, the QAIC courtyard was filled with the bright colors and beautiful patterns of the celebratory clothing worn by our attendees. In the ballroom, tables adorned with fresh, white rose bouquets were surrounded by golden chairs. Guests’ seats were topped with a signature red gift bag from Cartier. However, the success of the evening was not limited to the beauty of dress and décor.
Much like the warmth provided by the fire of the fanoos, the opportunity to connect with friends old and new lit a spark in each of the attendees. Warm embraces signaled both personal and professional relationships to be founded and sustained. At the top of the evening, accompanied by an Arab-inspired menu, guests engaged in fruitful discussions on leadership and representation. As a hub of cultural diplomacy, our event created a unique space where Arab and Arab American women could connect in the spirit of pan-Arabism. Though hailing from several Arab countries, attendees were united in the celebration of women’s empowerment. As the evening progressed, so too did discussions move from the professional to personal. The diversity of both discussion and representation reminded us that there is no one Arab Woman. Arab women and the light they shine in American society are as wide ranging as the physical distance between the U.S. and Arab World.
The last hallmark of the significance of the fanoos is that it represents joy. Indeed, our home was overflowing with joy. Renowned oudist Dr. Huda Asfour played her instrument with power and grace. Attendees were visibly moved as they heard Huda play the songs of their homelands. Others had great fun exploring the Bentley Bentayga Experience, with this amazing new creation from Bentley parked in front of our historic building. Many also found both joy and familiarity in the interactive experience provided by our Perfumery Museum.
QAIC looks forward to partnering with these Arab and Gulf women in the future. Our team treasures any opportunity to convene and celebrate Arabs in America. They are, after all, guiding lights for Arabs across the U.S. and our wider world.