Today we've got another post in the Ottawa Welcomes The World embassy series, and this one involves Saudi Arabia: land of sea, sand, and sky... and especially the Rub' al Khali- the Empty Quarter- which I'd love to work into a book.
Stepping inside the Horticulture Building, there was a Bedouin tent set up, as you might expect to see in the desert of the country.
I was surprised by the art, by both men and women artists (a split of half and half, a woman told me). The style is quite different from Western tradition, with something of an abstract feel to some works, but richly creative and beautiful, and rather dream-like. I chatted with one of the artists, who spoke of her creative process.
This particular one was my favourite of the set. I found it haunting.
The colour choice on this one stood out to me too.
Coffee finds its origins in this part of the world, and hospitality is a big part of Arab culture. I don't drink coffee, and I'd heard Arabian coffee is a good deal stronger than what you find in North America. So I thought I'd try it. Yes, it was stronger- and it tasted much better than what we have here (sorry, Tim Hortons and Starbucks, but what you call coffee is swill and tepid bathwater). Cardamom is sometimes added to Arab coffee; I expect that was the case. This is one of the coffee pots, quite formal in its look. There was also a good deal of food offered, from meals to desserts such as pastries, and I had some of that and liked it.
Jewelry was also on display, as well as items of clothing for formal occasions for both women and men. One of the women at these tables said that gold and silver are woven into thread form and embroidered into clothing like this for such occasions.
This curved knife, sheathed, was among the clothing items. Where men once used this for defence, these days it is largely a ceremonial addition to a formal outfit.
There were a group of men singing in Arabic as I was here. They, along with a good number of men in the crowd, were in Arab robes. Since I've never been in the Middle East, this occasion marks the most Arab robes I've ever seen in a single place at once.