By MARY-JANE DEEB
On April 20, the African and Middle Eastern Division and the Manuscript Division hosted a special event to celebrate the gift of the Ameen Rihani papers to the Library and the centennial of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
More than 150 diplomats, Arab dignitaries, CEOs of U.S. companies, academics, U.S. military officials, journalists and others attended. Following the reception the guests listened to remarks from May Rihani, the niece of Ameen Rihani and vice president of the Academy of Educational Development; Adel Al-Jubeir, the special assistant to Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia; and John Duke Anthony, president and CEO of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
Dr. Billington thanked the Rihani family for the gift of their uncle's papers, and noted that the Library has the published works of Ameen Rihani, "which have graced the Library's bookshelves these many years, and are to be found in the African and Middle Eastern Reading Room."
May Rihani discussed the principles of openness and tolerance that shaped the life and writings of Ameen Rihani and of his tireless efforts to promote better ties between the United States and the Arab world. Adel Al-Jubeir focused on the relations between King Abd al-Aziz of Saudi Arabia and President Roosevelt in the 1930s and how those close personal ties led to strong political and economic ties between their two countries in the following decades. The last speaker, John Duke Anthony, described the important role played by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in promoting a better understanding of the Arab world in the United States.
Ms. Deeb is an Arab world area specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.