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AUK Students Explore Bahraini Culture

Last week, a class of senior students of the American University of Kuwait (AUK) visited the land of two seas to gain a better understanding of Gulf regional culture. Under the patronage of the Minister of Culture and Information of Bahrain, Shiekha Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, the students were immersed in Bahraini history, music, art, and heritage-site visits.

(from left to right) Noura Al-Shaya, Manwa Al-Yaqoub, Dr. Lisa Urkevich, Sherifa Al-Sabah, Nouf Al-Rashidi, Alyaa Al-Nafisi, Farah J Zainal

The students were impressed by the vastness of Bahraini history that dates back thousands of years, as well as by the quality of the national exhibits, especially the remarkable United Nations World Heritage site of the Bahrain Fort. Sherifa Al-Sabah, a graduating senior said, "It is wonderful, the way that Bahrain is putting effort into preserving their ancient heritage despite globalization."

The students were also delighted with the existing traditions of Bahrain, as they ate traditional food, interviewed and watched performances of folk musicians, and visited Bahraini dar (meeting places) that, although hundreds of years old, were still alive with activity. "It was a phenomenal experience," said Manwa Al-Yaqoub, a Communication and Media major. "We met people and saw things that I never would have imagined."

Juma Al Juma, Bahraini musician

Dr. Lisa Urkevich, Director of the Arabian Heritage Project, a new research and outreach center at AUK, led the class of young scholars. Dr. Urkevich believes that gaining a better understanding of neighboring Gulf cultures will help Kuwaiti students better appreciate Kuwaiti heritage and place it into a regional perspective. "I think this research trip made the students realize that, although Kuwait and Bahrain have a great deal in common, the intricacies of the cultures vary tremendously," said Dr. Urkevich. "Of course, we were amazed by the effort and distinction that Bahrain has put into its cultural centers, and touched by the kindness of the Bahraini people and the pride they have for their heritage. However, our visit also helped us to reflect on Kuwaiti culture and opened dialog on how Kuwaiti heritage also plays and can play a special role in the Gulf."

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