UCSB students who spent a weekend in San Francisco playing the part of Saudi Arabian diplomats are not being diplomatic about the results of the conference.
UCSB’s delegation at the annual Model Arab League (MAL) Conference was named “best delegation,” and five delegates received individual awards at the three-day conference, which ended April 18. Club members called the performance “dominant.”
Delegations from UCSB and 11 other West Coast universities each represented one member of the League of Arab States. Participants attempted to replicate how their nation actually acts in political situations.
“When you’re arguing, you’re simulating the country you are representing,” said Eddie Saade, a member of UCSB’s delegation. “Saudi Arabia normally takes more of an aside stance and is more of a diplomatic nation, versus a nation like Syria that is more heated.”
Saade served as a delegate in the Joint Defense Council, one of five committees devoted to separate Arab issues. Saade said the council discussed issues including the handling of the invasion of Iraq and a Turkish plan to dam the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
MAL participants prepared for the conference by studying Saudi Arabia in religious studies Professor Juan Campo’s Islamic and Near Eastern Studies 194 course, which Saade said gave UCSB an advantage.
“We really dominated,” he said. “People were scared of UCSB; we were so much better prepared.”
Individual outstanding delegates were chosen by their peers in the individual committees based on who represented their country best. UCSB’s outstanding delegates were Saade, Reza Akef, Lulwa Bordcosh and James Khedari, with Garth Hall receiving honorable mention. The rest of UCSB’s delegation consisted of Raffi Arslanian, Hebatallah Gamal, Amy Jordan, Bahar Sadigh and Komal Mehta.
Nehall al-Taie of UCSB was voted outstanding chair by the faculty representatives from each school who sat in on committee meetings. Al-Taie, who chaired the House Energy and Environment Committee, said it was not hard to remain impartial.
“Lulwa and James were so on point, they didn’t need my help at all,” she said.