India will be the guest of honor at the 32end edition of the festival, a ‘grand cultural extravaganza’ showcasing Saudi life, culture and heritage
RIYADH, February 5 – King Salman of Saudi Arabia will inaugurate on Wednesday this Year’s Al Janadriyah Cultural and Heritage Festival, the Kingdom’s most important cultural event, with India named as this year’s Guest of Honor.
The festival runs for 18 days at Janadriyah, just over 40 km northeast of Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh, and draws millions of visitors from the Kingdom, the Gulf region and further afield. In 2017, the festival drew a total of about 6.8 million visitors.
Started in 1985 and sponsored by the Saudi National Guard, the festival features a variety of activities, including sports (such as camel racing), traditional dance, arts, living history, falconry, and traditional arts and crafts. It is also a showcase for government institutions and services, both Saudi and international.
English language daily Arab News calls Al Janadriyah a ‘grand cultural extravaganza’.
A camel race will take place during the opening ceremony, which will also include speeches, songs and the “Imams and Kings” operetta written by Prince Badr Bin Abdulmuhsin Bin Abdulaziz, Prince KhaledAl-Ayyaf, Minister of the National Guard and chairman of the supreme committee of the festival, told a news conference on Sunday.
Each region of the Kingdom occupies a pavilion in the form of the region’s traditional architecture and where visitors can sample local cuisine, witness arts and crafts and interact with experts on and from the different areas. Every year one pavilion is hosted by a foreign government, which promotes its relations with the Saudi government and its investments in the Kingdom. This year it is India’s turn, with the Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj leading an Indian delegation for the inauguration on Feb. 7.
India’s participation as guest of honor was announced at a joint press conference on Sunday in Riyadh by Prince Khaled Al-Ayyaf and Gen. V.K. Singh, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs. “I would like to offer my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud on behalf of our leaders for offering this great honor to India,” said General Singh (ret.).
India’s turn as guest of honor follows on the historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in 2016. More than 3 million Indians live in the Kingdom, and India looks forward to its honored participation in this year’s Janadriyah boosting its relationship to new levels, General Singh added.
The sub-continent’s pavilion will be a beehive of activity during the two-week festival.
Visitors will be treated to depictions of traditional and modern India through shows and presentations organized by ministries and other agencies. The pavilion will include exhibits on cultural, social and folkloric heritage, traditional fashion, Indian perfumes, bridal fashion, and archaeology, among other topics. Visitors will be able to sample authentic Indian cuisine and attend screenings of Bollywood movies, as well. Live dance and other presentations will be performed by nine groups specially chosen by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
“We take great pride in our strong and deeply rooted strategic and cultural relationships with the Kingdom,” said General Singh, “and we are thrilled to be able to offer Saudis visiting the Janadriyah Festival the chance to ‘visit’ India with no need for a visa and without any real travel expenses.”