WROTE A BOOK ON SAUDI CULTURE AND TRADITION DOCUMENTING ITS HIDDEN BEAUTY AND UNTOLD STORIES
The University of California Los Angeles, UCLA was celebrating graduation ceremony, when an honor graduate Alexander Woodman found himself standing next to the Saudi Arabia flag. At that moment, he had no clue that he would travel to this country, which would open new horizons for him and give wings to fly. Life becomes more fascinating and insightful when the unexpected challenges one to embark upon a new route on one’s journeys.
Within two years in Saudi Arabia, Alexander Woodman had not only taught at a university in al – Khobar in the Eastern province but had also become a part of the spiritual texture of Saudis who live in the land of adat. The author traveled for days, woke up with the sunrise to see and witness the beauty of the land and the actors therein. He met hospitable, loving, and caring people with kind hearts. The journey of two years was a dream that came to fruition through the book entitled “The Land of Adat.”
Discussing his vision of the creation of the book, Alexander siad: “I can unequivocally say that the intention to create this book was born within me only after my arrival in Saudi Arabia. From the first moment onwards, I felt deeply connected with my new environment.”
The book becomes even more precious through the foreword written by His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and introduction written by world-renowned political scientist Dr. Joseph A. Kechichian.
Their words depict the core depth of the insights of the author. Truly, the author conveys a message of peace to all those who would be able to see the beauty of the entirety of the world.
The essential element that the author pinpoints in his book is the notion of Saudi identity. The author intended to explore a journey into the depth of the heart of people who live with the fear of God reflected in their respect towards life, family, identity, and core moral values. “The Land of Adat” book shows the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its norms but above all deeply rooted traditions of the country. Within two years, Alexander Woodman became the part of the spiritual structure of people living in the land of adat, adorned with hospitality, generosity, and kind hearts.
Images and words reflect the inner spirituality of the hidden beauty of the nation’s life and the sacred land itself. There is something for everyone in this book, as every picture and every illustration share evocative stories and messages. Alexander sees the country from a unique perspective that will urge the travelers to visit, explore, or wander the land.
This is a book to be read by all nations across the world, without cultural, religious, or social limitations. A global audience is invited to be part of an interactive visual storytelling experience. The reader will enter into the journey that this book represents, which has a beginning with no end, as the author reflects. Each chapter in the book brings the reader closer to the mirror, where one sees the evolving world in its entirety.
A documentary called “The Land of Adat,” produced by Mohammed Salman Al Othman, will provide a fascinating window with a glimpse into the natural treasures, ancient sites, and modern development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people.
How would you describe the first day of the years-long journey and the first step?
As I took my first step to journey in Saudi Arabia, I immediately felt echoes of life brightening my spirituality. I understood that I was moving forward toward the voices of the souls of desert. But then, I immediately felt that this journey had started in my life long before, and what I realized, was that the journey had re-started after a long breakaway.
To get such precisely detailed interpretation of Saudi culture, tradition, and lifestyle, there must have been a degree of communication with the locals. Please elaborate on their attitude towards a foreigner, who was trying to document the essence of their livelihood?
Based on my personal experience at the beginning of my journey, I was not able to experience the close fellowship of the Saudis. Truly, I found this very natural. However, once the relationship was developed, their trust went beyond my expectations. Therefore, the due respect has to be extended to the Saudis, and one ought not to be judgmental.
What is the intended effect of the stylistic choice of the book, i.e., the usage of Arabic words, the Hijri calendar, and the recipes of traditional food?
Language is a history itself. In any given nation’s life, language, culture, even words journey with the people. As we look into the history of the people, the same words and language change their texture and understanding. Thus, we need to see the language, culture, and tradition in the context of history.
What was your “Lighthouse” while traveling through “The Land of Adat” – Saudi Arabia?
My hidden inner instinct drowned me into the desert. I was in search of the genuine people with pure heart and soul. This thought and feeling never abandoned me, and turned to be the “Lighthouse” of my journey. The more I penetrated the depth of daily life of the Kingdom, the more layers of thoughts and feelings developed in me. I felt the infusion of eternity in my spirituality. The more I walked into the desert, the deeper I understood the significance of the journey, which I had taken. For many, the “Lighthouse” becomes the guiding light of their lives. In my case, this journey helped me to understand the “Lighthouse” was within me, and the light was radiating from my heart. These are feelings, which cannot be described and translated into words.