Saudi Arabia, India set to boost cultural synergies at Janadriya


Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh at a joint press conference with Minister of National Guard and Chairman of the Supreme Committee of the Janadriya festival Prince Khalid Bin Ayyaf on Sunday, said it was a matter of great honor for India to be invited as the Guest of Honor country for the prestigious Saudi National Festival for Heritage and Culture (Janadriya festival) in Riyadh.

Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj will be leading an Indian delegation for the inauguration on Feb. 7 of the Janadriya festival.

Appreciating India’s civilizational richness and cultural diversity, Prince Ayyaf underscored that India’s participation in the Janadriya festival will not only raise the level of the festival, but will also further enhance close bilateral engagements between the two countries.

Gen. Singh, on his part, said, “We greatly value our close and deep rooted civilizational and strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This relationship got further impetus and new direction after the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Kingdom in 2016.

“The Kingdom is also home to more than 3 million Indian community. I have no doubt that India’s participation in this festival will take our relationship to new heights,” said Gen. Singh.

India’s participation in the festival will be multifaceted, Gen. Singh said, adding, “We will have an India pavilion which will show the glimpses of traditional and modern India. There will be displays and presentations by ministries/departments such as Indian Ordnance Factories Board, ISRO, Ministry of AYUSH, India Tourism board, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Textiles, Handicrafts Promotion Council, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Skill development, Digital India etc.”

India pavilion will also have presentations representing the country’s socio-cultural heritage, folklore, traditional costumes, perfumes, bridal costumes, artifacts, specimens of calligraphy, Arabic manuscripts etc., and food at the Flavors of India.

The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) is sending nine different cultural troupes for the cultural performances, which include Kathakali, Kalariyaptu, Kathak, Manipuri, Chhau, Bangra, Bollywood, Gujarati and Rajasthani.

There will be cultural performances in all the evenings in this 18-day festival. There will be cultural performances by Indian school children and the Indian community as well.

Yoga performances have also been arranged every day.

Bollywood movies will also be screened during the festival.

A number of Indian companies are also putting up their stalls in the Indian Pavilion including L&T, Tata Motors, LuLu Group, TCIL, Al Abeer Medical Group, ITL Group, Jet Airways, Shapoorji Pallonji, Virat, Aster Med city, KRBL Rice, Toshi Electronic etc. FICCI is the industry partner in this endeavor and has put together the Indian Pavilion.

Gen. Singh has been touring the India pavilion from Sunday to see that it is all systems go for the festival and along with the Indian Embassy officials is overseeing the finishing touches to the setting up of the pavilion.

The Janadriya Festival has been the most prestigious Saudi event since 1985, organized by the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques patronizes the festival with the participation of the rulers of GCC member states or their representatives as special guests. Royal family members, senior officials and ministers from friendly countries, as well as millions of Saudis and expatriates visit the festival.

The festival will showcase traditional activities, including folk dances, camel races, arts and crafts as well as poetry rendering for its entire duration. There will be pavilions of all Saudi provinces displaying indigenous cultural heritage and traditions, providing an excellent opportunity to the visitors to have a glimpse of the glorious Saudi past and its contemporary richness.

With the aim of expanding its global outreach and find cultural synergies with the countries having rich cultural and civilizational heritage and contemporary technical advancement, the Saudi government started inviting a foreign country as the “guest of honor” every year and it is India this year.

“The Kingdom has always taken cognizance of India’s historical socio-economic-cultural bonding with the people of the Arabian Peninsula. The momentum of warmth and proximity in the bilateral engagement generated by the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Riyadh in April 2016 and his interactions with the entire Saudi leadership, during which he emphasized on upgrading the present Indo-Saudi buyer-seller relationship into a more comprehensive strategic partnership, seems to be the main factor to accord India the privilege of being the guest of honor for Janadriya 2018,” said a statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.

“Our leadership in India and the Embassy of India in Riyadh are delighted to be part of this prestigious festival and extend our sincere thanks to the Saudi leadership for according this unprecedented privilege to our country,” the statement added.

“The festival provides us an effective platform to showcase India’s growing economic might, industrial prowess and the magic of our cultural performances. Our participation in the festival covers three broad areas: Stalls inside a big covered hall called India Pavilion; cultural performances reflecting classical and contemporary dances; and a series of seminars and B2B interactions,” the statement said.

India pavilion

India Pavilion will facilitate the participation of various ministries and corporates to represent India’s economic and technological strength in a befitting manner. The pavilion will have specific segments reflecting various phases of Indo-Saudi bilateral engagements and glimpses of both traditional and contemporary India.


Apart from the India Pavilion, various activities are planned on the sidelines of the festival. A seminar will be organized on Feb. 12 at Hotel Intercontinental, Riyadh, with the participation of speakers from India and Saudi Arabia. There will be two sessions. The morning session will be on Indo-Saudi Arabia Bilateral Ties: Present Realities and Future Prospects. The post-lunch session will discuss bilateral economic cooperation and investment opportunities.

The event will be attended by a large yet select group of Saudi officials and businessmen. The Indian exhibitors at the India Pavilion including representatives of the Indian ministries participating in Janadriya are also expected to attend.

In addition, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) will be organizing a seminar on Feb. 11 in association with the Saudi Council of Chambers with special focus on Food Processing and Make in India. The timing and venue will be communicated later.

B2B meetings for any interested exhibitor, Indian company and representatives of the Indian ministries attending the Janadriya, is also under active consideration.

Cultural programs

The Saudi authorities have provided an open-air stage, adjacent to the hall meant for India Pavilion for staging cultural performances.

A variety of performances, yoga demonstration, Bollywood film screening as well as display of Arabic Calligraphic specimen from Rampur Raza Library will be part of the cultural activities planned by the Indian mission.

A yoga demonstration will take place every day between 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Cultural performances will take place every day from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Film screening will take place every day from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

The embassy has planned Indian community participation on state basis. All the states that have shown interest to participate have been accommodated. Display of traditional attire, classical dances, perfumes, tourism sites and cuisine specialties will be part of the state stalls. In the community stall, people from various states dressed in their traditional attire are likely to serve their traditional cuisine for free sampling. — SG