By Menna Nayel
DOHA, Qatar — The Palestinian Culture Club at the Qatar campus of Texas A&M University is planning a quiz night in 2021 and other events aimed at promoting knowledge of Palestinian history and artistic achievement.
Founded in 2016, the club strives to share Palestinian traditions with the campus community and beyond.
Palestinians make up less than one per cent of Qatar’s two million people, though many families of Palestinian descent in Qatar hold other countries’ passports.
Before the pandemic, the PCC hosted performances and educational events at the university and occasionally at neighbouring universities in Education City (the district where Qatar’s Ivy League universities and research centres are located).
Their events introduced and celebrated Palestinian food, the traditional “Dabke” dance, music and spoken word poetry about the country.
Sharing Palestine’s culture
The club’s members, including secretary Moussa Judia, has been recognized with a campus award celebrating and sharing Palestine’s culture.
Judia, an 18-year-old sophomore at Texas A&M-Qatar, said the group’s Palestinan Night even was a highlight of the past year.
“We had a huge presentation of a Palestinian wedding that showed people how a Palestinian wedding goes — like how the bride enters,” he said.
As the group awaits a decision from university officials regarding this semester’s COVID-19 guidelines, members are planning an online game night. “It would be kind of like a game show,” said Judia. “We will try to integrate the history and culture of Palestine.”
It won’t be the club’s first online event. After the pandemic began, the club started hosting regular meetings online and also organized a talent show in which participants performed Palestinian songs and poetry on Zoom.
The club also relies on social media to connect with others and continue to spread knowledge of their culture. Its Instagram account includes recipes along with the history of the popular Palestinian dishes, traditional dance videos, live sessions and event announcements.
The club also pays respect and honours important days in Palestinian history, such as the “Nakba” (catastrophe or disaster), the day 700,000 Palestinians fled or were removed from their homes in 1948.
After its award-winning activities in 2020, the group intends to expand its programming this year to collaborate with other cultural clubs in Qatar and at the university’s main campus in Houston, Texas.
“We want to spread our voice through Education City and maybe even internationally,” said Judia. “Reaching out to a larger community would be a really big challenge for us.”