KUWAIT: The AWARE Center recently held a 'Date and Dishdasha' night as part of its monthly social and cultural activities, with guests dressing in traditional Kuwaiti outfits and indulging their taste buds with tantalizingly sweet dates and Arabic coffee.
One guest, Jeffrey DeVaney, an educator from the US State of Minnesota where winter temperatures regularly fall to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, said: "After retirement, I felt I still have some mileage to give, so I went to an international job fair in Boston, Massachusetts and here I am in Kuwait; the last place I thought I would be.
Happy and looking surprisingly relaxed in dishdasha, DeVaney said "I'm enjoying every moment of being in Kuwait, mostly because of the warmth of the people." He explained, "We found out about the center through an orientation program when we arrived. My first encounter with a dishdasha took place at the academy before the Eid holiday. It's comfortable, so I decided I was going to do it, so I went to Mubarakiyah market and got one.
Now in his forth month in Kuwait, DeVaney is Elementary Principal at the Boys' Campus at the American Creativity Academy here. "When the boys saw me in the dishdasha for the first time, we felt an emotional link; I certainly felt that I belonged. It's a beautiful country with a great people, kind and warm. Kindness of the heart is a universal thing and this is one of the main reasons I took the job, given all the misconception in American society of the Middle East.
'Dishdasha,' the standard Arabic word for 'garment,' is the traditional Arab garb for men, while the abaya is the long overgarment, essentially a cloak-like dress, worn by women. Wearing a fashionable abaya, Wendie Anderson, the Elementary Principal of the Girls Campus at the academy, told KUNA she was a little 'skeptical' about coming to Kuwait initially, "but the kindness of the people changed my mind."
The Advocate for Westerners-Arab Relations (AWARE) center is a non-profit, non-governmental, and non-political organization working to promote positive, constructive relations between Westerners and Arabs by organizing social activities and information services related to Arab and Islamic cultures. Inaugurated in October 2003, the center is dedicated to become the cultural gateway for westerners to explore Arab/Islamic culture and civilization by facilitating social encounters, educational activities, dialogue, cultural exchange and intercultural friendship.
LWDLIK- I love that people want to experience the culture at AWARE. Although I once saw a Korean businessman in full Kuwaiti attire in a hotel lobby and I desperately wanted to take a pic of the look on the face of the real Kuwaiti who was meeting him. Doesn't always work the other way around; I remember a Kuwaiti who'd dressed in a kilt and played the bagpipes one year at the Queen's Birthday Party celebrations in the British Embassy- he got arrested on his way home and charged with wearing ladies clothing :O) Unfortunate name for the celebrations didn't help his case.