JANADRIYAH, Saudi Arabia, December 21 – King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia inaugurated Janadriyah National Festival of Culture and Heritage, the most important event on Saudi Arabia’s cultural calendar, on Thursday. Indonesia is the official guest of honour at the 33rd edition of the festival.
The festival runs for three weeks at Janadriyah, about 40 kilometres northeast of the Saudi capital city of Riyadh and draws multitudes of visitors from within and outside the country.
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, falconry and traditional arts and crafts. The event also showcases government institutions and services, both national and international.
“Janadriyah Festival emerged as a purely creative Saudi project and an indication of the interest of the wise leadership in the history of the Kingdom, the introduction of Islamic civilisation [to the world] and the promotion of culture, arts and folklore,” the official Saudi Press Agency noted.
Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister of Human Development and Culture, Puan Maharani, thanked King Salman for choosing her country as the guest of honour for the festival.
“This is a valuable gift to the government and people of Indonesia to celebrate the golden age of bilateral relations between the two countries, especially after the historic visit of King Salman to Indonesia in 2017 and this visit gave a strong political momentum in promoting bilateral relations between the two countries,” Ms Maharani said. She underscored that Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and a population of over 260 million, accommodating more than 714 groups of different cultures and languages.
Attending the festival from Gulf nations were Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Crown Prince of Kuwait; Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Personal Representative of the King of Bahrain; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, of the United Arab Emirates; and Sayyed Shihab bin Tariq Al Said, Adviser to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman.
A camel race took place during the opening ceremony, which also included speeches and songs.
Prince Khaled Al-Ayyaf, Minister of the National Guard and chairman of the supreme committee of the festival, said at a press conference earlier this week that King Salman would open the pavilions of Tabuk and Jawf regions during his tour of the festival.
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 craft and interact with experts on and from 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.
Prince Khaled said that the festival was being held under the slogan “faithfulness and loyalty”.
As customary, the event started with the grand annual camel race. A speech was delivered followed by national songs at night of the inaugural day when a number of prominent Saudi personalities of were honoured in recognition of their contributions, achievements and services for their nation in different fields.
Next Sunday, King Salman will receive the festival’s guests. The monarch will also patronise a special Ardha (Saudi male dance) show to be held at the sports gallery in the historic town of Ad Dariyah near Riyadh on December 25.
Prince Khaled paid tribute to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the occasion of the festival as a leader who is always keen to see it reflect the country’s legacy and culture in the best way.
The Indonesian president’s special envoy thanked the King and Crown Prince for choosing Indonesia as the festival’s official guest of honour, “lauding the strategic and civilisational firm ties binding the Kingdom and Indonesia.” He added that this “participation would enhance the relations between the Kingdom and Indonesia,” SPA reported.
“For the Indonesian government, participating as a guest of honor is a matter of pride, considering this is an opportunity awaited by many countries. The appointment as a guest of honor also shows the bilateral relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in very good condition,” said Agus Maftuh Abegebriel, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.