Red carpets were rolled out in the Tivoli Turnhalle Wednesday morning. And for good reason. The cultural event hosted by the CU Denver Qatari Student Association had a regal air, thanks especially to a visit from the Qatari ambassador to the United States.
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff attended the entertaining spotlight on Qatari culture and heritage. The event featured food, music, informative booths and a few live falcons.
CU Denver, with 80 Qatari students, and a university in Arizona boast the largest numbers of Qataris enrolled at American universities, said Nasser Al-Eshaq, Qatari Student Association president. Al-Eshaq had the idea a month ago to invite Ambassador Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi to the festivities.
“When I talked to him on the phone last week … he was more than willing to help us and share our culture,” Al-Eshaq said. “I was informed by the ambassador’s office on Tuesday that he would be here. I then talked to the campus (Office of Student Life) and they provided the security and everything for us.”
Al-Rumaihi visited the booths and displays about Qatar — its past, present and future — that filled the hall. He was accompanied by students and CU Denver leaders, including Business School Dean Sueann Ambron and Marc Ingber, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
Qatari students performed a traditional dance before Regina Kilkenny, associate vice chancellor for Academic Resources and Services and acting vice chancellor for the Office of International Affairs, welcomed Al-Rumaihi to the podium. “CU Denver is a community that embraces diversity both in the people who live, learn and work here and in the experiences that enrich life in the classroom and beyond,” Kilkenny said. “Mr. Ambassador, we are absolutely pleased and honored to be your long-standing partner and look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration in support of your outstanding students.”
The ambassador exchanged gifts with university leaders and said he is proud of the way CU Denver’s Qatari students honor their culture and respect their education here. “I hear very nice words from you — the university’s teachers, professors and deans — about the way our students here in Denver behave and are respectful,” he said.
Al-Rumaihi said Qatar is working toward a Vision 2030, which is built on the pillars of Qatari culture and heritage while looking to the future. “We want to raise an example of a Middle Eastern country, not only on the part of development … but also on the part of how much we look to the future and how we respect each other and past generations.”
Ambron said it’s a privilege to have the Qatari students at CU Denver. “Your education will take you far,” she said. “Your cultural base will take you far.”
Qatar will take the global stage in 2022 when it hosts soccer’s World Cup. “I’m excited about the World Cup,” Ambron said. “I’m excited about our Sports and Entertainment Management program, and I’m excited about what’s going to happen and what leadership all of these students will bring to the world.”
Ingber said the College of Engineering and Applied Science enjoys a large cohort of Qatari students. “They add to the diversity of our student groups, and we’re extremely pleased that the ambassador could make it for this event,” he said. “We want to strengthen our relationship with Qatar.”
Marisa Bennett, a student majoring in art history and staff member of Global Education/Study Abroad, plans to study in Qatar as part of her master’s program. She likes the way CU Denver fosters bridges between cultures.
“I feel the diversity supplements and enhances all of our experiences here,” Bennett said.
(Photo at top: CU Denver Business School Dean Sueann Ambron exchanges gifts with Qatari Ambassador Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi at the Qatari cultural celebration at CU Denver Oct. 3.)