Northern Virginia Community College hosted the Al-Quds festival and Palestine Trade Show on November 10, celebrating Palestinian history and culture. The all-day event attracted a throng of about 1,000 people throughout the day and boasted a range of activities and products to appeal to a wide audience of festival goers, young and old.
The festival was organized by Arabesque Media and the Al Quds Project, in conjunction with numerous sponsors. Al-Quds (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) is a city cherished by many around the world. A group of organizations and activists in the Washington metropolitan area came together to highlight the cultural and historical significance of Al-Quds to the local community, and they did so with bells on.
Along with the main event of the trade show, Al-Quds presented a lively dabke dance, a fashion show, Palestinian, Moroccan, and Arab food and drink, and an exhibit hall full of traditional Palestinian arts and crafts. There were activities appropriate for all ages. The festival even featured a Palestinian zaffa (wedding) with the bride and groom processing into the hall in traditional costume, led by a band of musicians.
“Inside Arabia was delighted to be a media sponsor of this festival,” said Elisabeth Myers, Inside Arabia’s Editor-in-Chief. “There were vendors displaying beautiful Palestinian handicrafts, such as hand-embroidered robes (traditional dresses) and carved wooden wall hangings containing letters from Suras from the Qur’an. And these beautiful handmade items are now available right here locally in the DC area.”
Al-Quds comes at a particularly difficult time for America’s Muslim community and for the political aspirations of the Palestinian people. The organizers wanted to “bring Al-Quds closer to our community and the public,” said Marwan Ahmad President of Arabesque Media. “Many who haven’t had the chance to visit Al-Quds got to experience it through a unique and joyful festival.”
“Festivals like this are so important in sharing the rich cultural heritage of places like the ancient land of Palestine,” said Myers. “They also put a human face on a people whom many wrongly think of generally as terrorists.”
Events such as Al-Quds are an unusual opportunity for non-Muslims and people unfamiliar with the history and customs of Palestine to learn about this ancient and vibrant culture. Understanding encourages empathy, so it is essential to support events like Al-Quds, that build bridges and help tear down the barriers that divide our world.