Fatema Almajed, an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, Boulder collaborated with her Bahraini roommate Haya Darwish in setting up an interactive booth at their university’s annual International Festival to showcase Bahraini culture and promote the Kingdom’s latest developments.
Hailed by visitors and students as one of the most popular and informative stalls at the one day festival, Fatema attributes their success to the interactive dress-up photo booth they included that allowed visitors to dress up in traditional Bahraini attire, in addition to the various traditional handicrafts, booklets, photos and other items on display provided by Cultural Office of the Bahrain Embassy in Washingtion D.C.
Fatema explains that this is the first time the Kingdom of Bahrain has been represented at this event which drew in over 4,000 visitors this year, as she and her roommate are the only two Bahrainis on campus. They began planning their booth over Winter Break, and brought in many of the items with them from Bahrain, and made and set up the signs and decorations such as the colored shells themselves.
“I would like to thank the Cultural Office for all their help and support, and especially Mr. Mubarak Buti, the Cultural & Educational Counselor, for sending us the items as quickly as possible. We also handed out three different types of tourism booklets from the Ministry of Culture that had general information about Bahrain's attractions and culture, and displayed a collection of Delmon coins,” says Fatema.
One of their most popular attractions was the photo booth says Fatema, where visitors could try out national Bahraini clothes. “We basically came up with this idea to make our booth a little more interesting. We have seen photo booths used in many events in Bahrain and thought it would be a nice addition that visitors would enjoy. We took their pictures using a Polaroid camera so they would be able to keep a copy of the photo, and we also wrote their names on the photos in Arabic, which they enjoyed.”
Their stall also included traditional Gulf food, which was served with the help of their Kuwaiti friends. Fatema and her roommate took shifts manning their booth at the festival, which ran from 4 to 10 o’clock p.m. They explained various aspects of Bahraini culture and heritage to visitors, such as food, dress, and games. They also talked about the pearl business in Bahrain and different attractions with historical significance such as Bahrain and Arad Forts, the Tree of Life, and Bahrain’s National Museum, in addition to new developments and tourist attractions in the Kingdom such as the Bahrain World Trade Center, the Bahrain International Circuit, and the Formula One Grand Prix.
“I’m immensely grateful that I had the opportunity to promote Bahrain and spread awareness about our culture. Most people had never heard of Bahrain before and we had to point out where it is on the map. It felt great to not only let the visitors know that Bahrain existed, but also to be able to impress them with our achievements. Many people were surprised to see that Bahrain is so modern. Boulder is pretty cold and there is no beach, so they were excited to see the photos of Bahrain’s beaches and to know that it was an island. Many visitors said they would love to visit Bahrain sometime.”