RIYADH: A grand cultural extravaganza popularly known as Janadriyah Festival was inaugurated by King Salman on Wednesday on the northern outskirts of the Saudi capital, featuring a mega camel race, an operetta and dance.
It is held in Janadriyah village annually to celebrate the heritage and symbols of Saudi identity. On behalf of India, the guest of honour at the festival this year, Sushma Swaraj, minister of external affairs, attended the opening ceremony.
Addressing a joint news conference here, Minister of National Guard Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf said: “The National Heritage and Cultural Festival of Saudi Arabia seeks to encourage our people to uphold values and heritage as well as enhance cultural exchange.”
V. K. Singh, Indian minister of state for external affairs, also addressed the conference. Prince Khaled said several Saudi legends, including the late Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the late journalist Turki bin Abdullah bin Nasir Al-Sudairi and Dr. Kahiriyah Bint Ibrahim M. Al-Saqqaf, will be honored during the festival. The Saudi traditional Ardhah dance will be performed on Feb. 13 in the Sports Complex in Al-Diriyadh in the evening. Prince Khaled noted that Janadriyah today is “no longer just a camel race. Lots of other attractions are brought about every year celebrating many aspects of culture.”
He said: “The Janadriyah festival reflects the unity of the country, and also cohesion between the leadership and the citizens.” On the sidelines of the press conference, Khalid Al-Jidie presented the electronic application of the Janadriyah Festival. Khalid pointed out that the JanadriyahApp would guide visitors to the gates, indicating highest or lowest crowds, the desired wings, pavilions or any required function and performance or where the visitors’ cars are parked.
Indian Minister of State V.K. Singh said: “We do give utmost care to the strategic and cultural relations between India and the Kingdom, relations which have gained a momentum after the historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016,” he added. He said: “Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will lead the Indian delegation to the opening session of the festival on Wednesday.”
On the cultural side, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations will send nine teams to perform shows and dances every evening during the festival.There will be no entry fee for visiting the festival. The first five days till February11, have been reserved for men only; whereas women and families will be allowed to visit the festival from Feb. 12 to 24. The festival will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.