Omani Student Association hosts first cultural night over weekend.

After being forced to reschedule due to snow, the Omani Student Association hosted its first cultural night Sunday.

More than 300 people filled the Memorial Union ballroom to learn about the culture of the nation of Oman.

"(Our goal is) to show the Americans and other diversities about Oman," said Waleed Al-Zakwani, a sophomore in chemical engineering. "We found that some of them, they don't know Oman, even on maps, so that is the main part and we want to go further than that to show them our heritage, our culture and our lifestyle."

Oman, which gained its official independence in 1951, is located along the coast of the Arabian Sea, on the southeastern border of Saudi Arabia.

The MU ballroom was adorned with informational posters, images and objects related to Omani culture.

The performance portion of the evening opened with a student singing the Oman national anthem, followed by a reading of a passage from the Quran. OSA president Ali Almatani then gave a short speech about the roots of the first Omani cultural night at Oregon State University.

Almatani explained the two-year process of coming to OSU and being welcomed into the OSU and Corvallis community. He noted the lack of widespread knowledge of Oman and the Omani culture.

"Being here we have noticed one thing," Almatani said. "Most people don't know much about Oman. Our vision was to create a group that would introduce Oman to the whole Oregon State University community and Corvallis as a whole."

For many of the guests, the event was one of their first experiences with Omani culture.

"Omani Association is just kind of one thing that I've never seen," said Mariam Rehman, a senior in public health and health management and policy. Rehman had friends who were volunteering with the event and decided to attend as a guest. "I don't think I've ever met an Omani person until meeting some of the people here."

Following Almatani's speech, student volunteers performed a medley of traditional dances, encouraging audience members to clap along with the music. Another group of students performed a short skit, which discussed the lifestyles and experiences of women in Omani culture.

Following the skit, a traditional Bar'aa dance was performed, though partially through the song, the music switched and students on stage began dancing to Ylvis' pop sensation, "What Does the Fox Say?"

The event ended with a fashion show, as Omani students walked the stage and displayed their traditional Omani attire.

"It's pretty great," Rehman said. "I always love watching cultural events and seeing different aspects of different communities I've never seen before."

Kaitlyn Kohlenberg

Campus reporter

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