VCUQatar Day is a yearly event that brings VCUQatar to the home campus in Richmond. This year hundreds of students, faculty and staff attended the event, which featured free Arabic food (courtesy of local restaurant Aladdin Express), henna tattoos, Arabic calligraphy, and Arabian perfumes, as well as the aforementioned falcon.
A falconer was invited to demonstrate how he commands his trained bird of prey to fly, while the winner of the W Hotels Designers of the Future Award, Saadia Khabab, was the sole designer of this year’s Qatar Day fashion show, her first solo show ever.
“Judging from the response, attendance and the list of activities, it really speaks a lot about how valuable the Qatar campus is,” said Akel I. Kahera, Ph.D, VCUQatar’s Dean. “But also how important global education is to this millennial group of students.
“Being in Qatar, Richmond seems so far away. They know it exists, they know it’s real. But once they are here and they’re able to experience it and they’re able to see it, walk on the campus and talk with people, it makes it even more of a concrete reality in their minds. And they really feel connected. Being here is very beneficial to all of us. Even me as an administrator.”
The collaborative event is an important cultural exchange for both campuses, and students from the home campus also travel to Qatar for a similar event.
A 2016 graduate, Khabab’s designs for the fashion show comprised seven pieces from her new collection, from which she took inspiration from the W Hotel and used colors according to its theme, and seven pieces from her senior collection.
“The W Hotel has adopted her for a whole year and they promote her as a young emerging designer throughout their chain of hotels and internationally,” said Sandra Bell Wilkins, the chair of the fashion department at VCUQatar. “It’s an amazing experience.”
“We encourage the Richmond students to come to Qatar,” Dean Kahera said. “This [event] allows them to talk to some of the students from Qatar and exchange ideas with them.
“I’m happy to be here as always. Even to see the response. To see the crowd enjoy the fashion show and the food and all of the people who have come to gather to make this a tremendous success.”