On the final night of the conference, hundreds of participants assembled in front of Alnilam waiting for Arab Night to begin. Just two hours before, the Round Square delegation had concluded the closing ceremony with the passing of the conference flag to the delegates from UWCSEA in Singapore, and students were taking photos and exchanging Facebook and Instagram accounts with their newly made friends. They did not know what to expect of the evening planned ahead as they were only asked to wait in front of Alnilam. Then, heads started turning as the participants noticed a group of men dressed in traditional garb take place next to Nihal. The King’s Academy participants were the first to catch on to what was happening, and they started to group around the oddly dressed men, whom they recognized as a traditional Zaffeh Band. The international delegates followed the lead of the King’s students. In just a few minutes, a big body of students clustered around the band waiting for something to happen. All of a sudden, a loud cheer erupted as a bagpiper blew his instrument with all his might. The band started to move—to the international delegates’ surprise—and students followed, dancing, singing and ululating in gleeful response to the spontaneity of what had just happened. And so, the long march to the spectacle of the Arab Night began with the band leading the way.
There were no seats to sit on, no tables to dine on—our visitors not only experienced but also lived Arab Night. This was a night solely dedicated to all things Arab. From small lanterns to massive tents, everything to do with the night was of the region. King’s Academy and the Round Square team spared no expense to make this night memorable. Inspired by earlier Meissa house weekends, there were Bedouin tents to welcome our myriad guest and participants—only this time, six instead of just one. The music coming from the turntables of our very own DJ, Jouman Barakat ’16, spanned the whole Arab world, as did the delicious food: from kushari to kanafeh.
The Arab Night was certainly one of the most anticipated nights of the conference, especially by those who knew what lay in store. As the last event of the conference, the impression it left on our guests is the one they will take back to their respective communities. One of the core themes of the conference is “breaking stereotypes.” The whole conference saw plenty of activities and trips aimed at breaking Middle Eastern and Arab stereotypes, but what better way than for our guests to leave Jordan with an authentic image of the Arab world and its traditions? That is where the importance of the Arab Night lies, and that is what our King’s Academy community and Round Square team were aiming to convey to our guests—and what a night it was.