Tuesday 11 September 2012
Last Update 11 September 2012 3:11 am
LAST year I wrote an article titled “September 11 and the longest ten years.” I received many e-mails from many places in the world in response to the article. One of the e-mails was from an Israeli young woman (Sigal) who lost her husband in the 9/11 terrorist attack. But all the e-mails were talking about how beautiful and how peaceful the world can be if the East and the West learned from each other and respected each other’s values instead of opposing each other. East and West don’t have to impose their way of life or thinking on the other side. Both sides can share many things, even an arch in a building.
One Tuesday, April 17, 1962 Dhahran International Airport was officially opened in the presence of King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The airport was designed by an American engineer named Minoru Yamasaki. The most beautiful part of the airport was the arches, which made the airport as an architectural marvel and in later years a portrait of the airport terminal was used on one side of a Saudi older banknote (the Saudi riyal).
The beauty of the arches is very visible on the note.
The first time I saw the airport was in 1965. For a child I was impressed with the automatic glass doors and wasn’t aware of the arches. But on Oct. 28, 1974 the beauty of the arches caught my attention. They were so beautiful and unique I thought I would never see any arches like them anywhere in the world. They had an Islamic architectural touch. On that day, I was on my way to the US to attend an English course at Lackland Air Force Base. Later on, I headed to New York to attend school in August 1975. The first thing I did when I came to New York was to go to see the tallest building in the world: The World Trade Center (WTC).
During my first visit to the WTC, I was impressed with the height of the building, speed of the elevators and the breathtaking view from the top. But, the last thing I expected to see was a familiar design of the lobby area arches in the lower part of the 110-story building. The minute I saw them, I knew I have seen these arches before.
They resembled the arches at Dhahran International Airport. To my surprise, the American engineer who designed the most beautiful airport in Saudi Arabia was the same engineer who designed the WTC.
Dhahran airport was completed in 1961 and as I mentioned above was officially opened on May 17, 1962. And just four months later, on Sept. 20, 1962, New York and New Jersey port authorities announced the selection of Minoru Yamasaki as the lead architect and Emery Roth an associate architect.
The WTC was officially opened in the early 1970s. But nowadays Dhahran International Airport and the WTC are only seen in the history books. In the year 1999, Dhahran International Airport was closed to commercial traffic. As for the WTC, we all know the rest of the story.
In the early morning of Sept. 11, 2001 the world was divided. Many thousands of innocent lives were lost. And later on, Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded and many more lives were lost. What happened on that day had changed the way people think.
But on that day the terrorists miscalculated America. Americans were more united. And America’s development didn’t come to a halt. America just sent Curiosity spaceship to Mars and every individual on earth is thumbing an American-made gadget.
But what did the attackers accomplish? They destroyed two countries and killed many innocent people. I am a Muslim and what happened had nothing to do with Islam. What happened is against any Islamic teachings.
Now, what happened will be remembered for many years to come and new generations of young men and women will only read about it in coming years. They didn’t live it. It happened 11 years ago. And all faiths must teach their young to understand, learn from, respect and try to understand the other. The East can meet the West. The East and the West can learn from each other without changing the other’s way of life. Each place has a different religion, culture, food and way of life. All people in different part of the world must join hands to make this world a better and safer place for the future generations. Wars and conflicts never solved any issue. The world thought that WWII is the war to end all wars, but we, the humans, are refusing to learn from historical lessons.
The whole world must stand against a few extremists from all faiths.
n This article is exclusive to Arab News.