Thursday, August 26, 2010

Which fork do I use?

Last night I had a really great and unique opportunity, I went to an Iftar hosted by the Consulate General of The U.S. to Dubai. Among the attendees were the Consulate General himself, Justin Siberell, with whom I sat at dinner, random members of Congress visiting the region, various media, and a selection of relatively important people (naturally I am included in this group) who work in Dubai government or institutions. The Iftar was held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai. The entrance to the ballroom had the prerequisite traditional Araby "magliss/ga3meeza" or sitting area that had coffee and dates in the middle. The ballroom itself was decorated in golds with tables having center pieces of red rose bouquets and Moroccan lamps and in front of each guest was a small gift from the Consulate; it was a post-it  note holder(you gotta love American pragmatism). Soft Arabic instrumental music played in the background as guests mingled and filled their plates of food from one of three buffets.

 I started dinner with a lentil soup, it was literally the best lentil soup I've ever had (Please don't tell my mom I said that)!! The first buffet had cold salads and dips. There were things there I've never seen. Of course there was the standard leafy green salad, hummus, and baba but there were sauteed onion dips, an anchovy dip, and garlic sauce. The second buffet was the hot buffet with two types of rice, grilled fish, buttered chicken (a DELICIOUS curried chicken in a creme sauce), egg rolls, kibba, samosa, filafil, and Kufta tajeen (ground beef patties grilled with potatoes and eggplant). It was all delicious. It is really such a shame to have so much food during Ramadan, you can't possibly try everything. The third buffet had 10 different desserts. I wish I could elaborate more for you but I didn't pay attention to it because I don't like Arabic sweets and I was stuffed.

After I plated my carefully selected items, I sat at our table with Mr. Siberell, other affluent Emiraties, and a guy who was described as being number #2 in charge of  Al Arabiya, a well known Arabic news channel that rivals Al-Jazeera. Being that he was in media and Mr. Siberell was an American government official, the conversation obviously went to discuss Park 51 in New York. I was pleasantly surprised to find Mr.Siberells rhetoric to be very logical and similar to my own. The massive disappointment came from the Al-Arabiya guy (I never figured out his name) who claimed that there was already 300 Mosques in New York and it be okay if "we let this one go." I'm not here to discuss the broader points of Park 51, but its obvious that he needs a lesson in freedom and rights; they aren't quantifiable.

Overall, the night was very enjoyable; Alhamdulilah. I'm glad I was able to attend something like this, an opportunity I would not have had stateside. I met and saw "important" people and maybe even made a few connections that may come in handy later. You know what they say, its all about who you know. In the next few days, I will be attending other Iftars that will also be interesting and beneficial. In the mean time, I need to learn how to use all that silverware properly.  Is the three prong fork for the lobster or the hors'doueuuuuvvvre?


  1. wow! what an experience! i gotta say though, seriously disappointed there aren't any food pictures... but i'll let this one slide since it was in front of important people that might raise an eyebrow :P

  2. What a great opportunity Assia. Glad you are having an amazing time!

    Silverware...I finally learned it! You start with the outer and move inward :p Hope this helps...

  3. Samia, I really wish I could have taken pictures. It really was an amazing spread. But I was with important people and I would have felt and been so retarded to take pictures. Hopefully another opportunity will present itself!

  4. shouldn't have read this while fasting.. YUM.
    so how do you get these opps? so excited for you!

  5. tee 7ayyyy 7ayyyy saga3 3alayna ya 7ana, itga3amzee ma3 hel sha7'seeyat (note, use of the 7' as opposed to the incorrect 5)... haha even though this is posting anonymous I am sure you will know exactly who I am simply from that 7' :-P and also because you can see my location hahaha

  6. wth assia, did you come up with the words for the "word verification" stuff before a comment is posted? it just asked me to type in "boutanti" for that last message i just posted... hahahahahahahahahahahahaha