KUCHING: Amidst slight drizzle and an army of security personnel, the mood inside the new State Legislative Assembly complex last night was thoroughly festive with lavish decorations as Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Puan Sri Ragad Waleed Alkurdi held their wedding reception.
It was indeed a ceremony full of pomp and pageantry as some 500 dignified VVIPs, along with an impressive list of ‘who’s who’ in Sarawak, rub shoulders with the nation’s key public and corporate figures in attendance at the reception which was held at the DUN’s Dewan Santapan.
The guest list included Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhamad Salahuddin, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and federal and state Ministers.
Arriving at 8.15pm, Taib was handsomely clad in a black tuxedo while his bride Ragad looked radiant in a stunning white wedding gown. The newly-wed couple was welcomed by deputy chief ministers Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan and Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, along with Taib’s daughters Jamilah Hamidah and Datin Hanifah Hajar.
Najib and his wife Datuk Seri Rosmah Mansor were the next to arrive at 9pm, followed by Salahuddin and his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah about 10 minutes later.
Although not on the same scale as the fairy tale wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer back in 1981, the Chief Minister’s wedding was certainly a class on its own.
Taib’s eldest son Dato Sri Mahmud Abu Bekir, in his appreciation speech, started off by wishing Ragad a ‘Happy Birthday’ as yesterday also marked Puan Sri’s 29th birthday.
“This unification would not have happened if not for Datuk Raziah Mahmud (Taib’s sister) and husband Datuk Robert Geneid. It was Robert’s cousin Iqbal who introduced Puan Sri to my father.
“About five months ago, Puan Sri dreamt that she married King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and he took her away in a Rolls Royce. Coincidentally, a year ago Robert’s niece Rasya also dreamt to have met King Abdullah.
“In her dream, Puan Sri had asked Robert to help Rasya. He gave her (Ragad) a piece of paper and a pen to write her wishes down. Then Puan Sri saw her late father smiling at her,” said Mahmud, adding that now Ragad had moved to Kuching to be with the family and the people of Sarawak.
Among the highlights of the night, apart from the cake cutting ceremony by the couple, were cultural performances by the Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation troupe.
Entertainment for the evening included orchestral music led by Safie Obe Haruni, while Sarawak Imam Besar Jorji Suhaili led the prayers for the couple.
Held only the second week into the new year, the ‘Wedding of the Year’ was auspiciously marked as the first of many grand events anticipated in 2011. Taib and Ragad’s `akad nikah’ (marriage solemnisation) was held last Dec 18.
Born in Damascus, Ragad is the youngest of four children to Waleed and Khayami Alkurdi. Along with her brothers Samer and Mohamad, and sister Samar, the family moved to Riyadh when Ragad was still young. Sadly, their father passed away in 2003.
Tracing her roots, Ragad’s great great grandfather was a ‘Wari’ from Orfa, Turkey. His name was Khalil Orfali but only to change it to Alkurdi upon moving to Syria.
Having a background in interior design, Ragad loves singing, dancing, fishing and driving.