The Calgary Arab Festival is underway in Olympic Plaza today.

The festival celebrates the depth and diversity of cultures across Arabic countries, with booths representing North Africa, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the region around Syria. The unique histories and traditions of each region are often not appreciated and many people tend to lump the Arab world together, said one organizer.

"Canada is a country of diversity and we are part of it," said Omar al-Emrani, who represented the Yemeni tent. "Canadians are better than lots of other countries but still there are lots of misconceptions and ignorance about the region, especially how old and distinct the cultures within the region are."

This is the festival's first year and organizers hope to make it an annual event.

There is no charge to stop by the festival and it includes plenty of free samples of Turkish coffee and traditional sweets.

There are also lessons on how to prepare various treats as well as henna stalls and a children's play area.

The festival runs until Sunday night.