Seriously Proud to be Canadian

October 24, 2014

Today… what a great day. I went to my first formal ball here in Riyadh (actually in my life to specific as we definitely don’t have “balls” at home… other than the balls you play games with of course. haha).

And there is definitely no better place to start off the “social season” in Riyadh than with my own embassy, the Canadian embassy!

The Canadian Red & White Ball is something I’ve been looking forward to for weeks… since I first heard talk about it shortly after I arrived in Riyadh actually. The chance to get dressed up in a beautiful gown, enjoy a really nice meal and some beverages with friends… a little music and dancing and a whole lot of laughter…

After much thought and several shopping trips… I finally found an appropriate dress and shoes to wear to the ball. I know it seems silly and trivial, and it probably is… but it was really difficult trying to decide what to wear to my first ball. (First world problems… I know!) The term “ball” itself conveys a certain degree of formality… and therefore, I’d have to dress up significantly. And then hearing from many people that girls tend to wear full ball gowns and everything to these sort of events, I knew I needed to find something pretty fancy.

Riyadh is filled with shops carrying absolutely beautiful dresses… big ball gowns, cocktail dresses… extravagant… elegant… super sparkly and sequined or simply stunning… Eventually, I found a beautiful black dress that was somewhere in between cocktail dress and ball gown… and I found a stunning pair of shoes… my first pair of Prada shoes.. with just enough sparkle! So…

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All dolled up… a pre-party selfie…

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I headed out to the DQ with a few friends to our friends home where we would take a few pictures together and hang out for a little bit before the ball started. Since we aren’t allowed to take cameras or phones into the embassy, we needed a group shot before we left…

image However, there was a professional photographer there, so we had a picture taken on arrival… as well as a few throughout the night. It was great!!

imageimageI was seated at a long table with a whole bunch of people from the hockey crew and we had a riot all meal long… we spent hours talking and laughing outrageously at everything. It was great fun!

On a more serious note… For Canadians all around the world, this week was difficult. A soldier standing duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa was killed in a shooting.

Earlier in the week, another Canadian soldier was killed in a hit and run attack also. So I think we all feel a bit less invincible than usual. As Canadians, we know that we are well liked around the world in general. I like to consider us the Switzerland of North America… pretty neutral. But these attacks remind us that we are not exempt from the tragedies that occur in other countries in the world on a daily basis.  As Prime Minister Harper said, “This week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”

http://www.680news.com/2014/12/24/rewind-2014-ottawa-shootings/

For those of us Canadian living in Riyadh, the Canadian Red&White Ball definitely came at a time when we were all feeling pretty proud to be Canadian and much more patriotic than usual! So when the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, stood up and sang the Canadian anthem … a capella… (first in French because that is how it was originally written), and then in English and we all joined in, I sang my little heart out, through the giant lump in my throat, with goosebumps and a little shiver of patriotic!! I’ve never felt so close to my homeland and so proud to be Canadian, although being so far from home and in a country so different from the one I grew up in!

The singing of the Canadian anthem was definitely my favourite part of the whole evening!! Without a doubt!

But what an amazing experience…Really!!! There are not many Canadians who can say they’ve been to Saudi Arabia, or to Riyadh. Not many Canadians have had the unique opportunity to experience this culture and to find themselves completely immersed in it and actually really enjoying it. Not many Canadians have been able to just chill at the Canadian embassy on the weekend after a game of street hockey, nor go to a ball at their embassy. But yet, this is a relatively normal experience here in Riyadh. So… I consider myself to be absolutely fortunate and incredibly blessed to be having these experiences here… meeting so many new people on a regular basis… building some great friendships with people from all around the world… and really just loving this life I’m living!! I can’t wait until the next Ball!!!!

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With much love from Riyadh to you… wherever you are in the world…

xo

Annemarie

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