Camel race, operetta mark the opening of Janadriya festival

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH
- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman opened the 32nd National Festival for Heritage and Culture at the Janadriya village near Riyadh on Wednesday.

Upon arrival at the venue of the festival, the King was received by Minister of National Guard and Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the festival Prince Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Bin Ayyaf, Deputy Minister of National Guard Abdul Mohsen Al-Tuwaijri and other officials.

The King and other guests watched the Annual Grand Camel Race. Several folklore and traditional shows were staged on the occasion.

The guests who attended the opening ceremony included Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, crown prince of Kuwait; Sayyid Asaad Bin Tariq Al-Said, deputy prime minister of Oman for relations and international cooperation affairs; Sheikh Muhammad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, president of Bahrain’s National Guard; Sheikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, chairman of the board of trustees of Sheikh Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; and India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. India is the guest of honor at this year’s festival.

At the end of the grand camel race, the King gave away prizes to the winners of the first place of each of the five sets. The winners of the first and second sets also received Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan prizes, presented to them by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The King also a hosted a dinner banquet in honor of the guests.

King honored Former Minister of Foreign Affairs the late Prince Saud Al-Faisal, veteran media figure the late Dr. Turki Al-Sudairi and eminent Saudi woman writer Dr. Khairiyah Al-Saqaf with presenting the King Abdulaziz First Class Medal.

Prince Turki Al-Faisal and Mazen and Haitham, sons of Al-Sudairi, and Al-Saqaf received the medal from the King.

The monarch and the dignitaries performed the traditional Ardha sword dance.

King also watched the “Imams and Kings” operetta written by Prince Badr Bin Abdul Mohsen.

The opening ceremony also included speeches, songs and poetry recitation. Mishal Al-Harthy recited Nabatian poetry.

Those who spoke on the occasion included Minister of National Guard Prince Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Bin Ayyaf and Swaraj.

In his speech, Ayyaf said the festival shows the keenness of the Saudi leadership to bring closer people and extend the bridges of interaction between human beings and creativity.

He said eminent writers, thinkers, media persons and cultural figures from all over the world will attend diverse cultural programs during the festival.

Ayyaf welcomed India, the guest of honor country, to the festival, saying that this would contribute to further deepening the historic relations between the two countries.

In her speech, Swaraj thanked King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and the whole Saudi leadership for giving this honor to India.

“The historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Riyadh added momentum to further strengthen bilateral relations.

During his visit Modi underlined the need for improving the level of current strategic relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. We view Saudi Arabia as an important stabilizing factor for the region and the world,” she said and added addressing the King: “Your wise leadership has ensured the success of your country’s progress at all political, security and economic levels amidst a sea of ​​great challenges triggered by destructive elements that are active in the region.”

She welcomed the measures taken by the Kingdom to fight and eradicate threats of terrorism and extremism.

The Indian minister praised the visit of King Salman to India in February 2014, which was an important cornerstone in strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries and extended the relations to include defense cooperation.

“The joint communique issued during the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Riyadh in April 2016 reinforced a deep vision in the political, economic, security and defense fields,” she said, adding that the two friendly countries are working towards strengthening security and military cooperation.

“We are the two main pillars of security and stability in the region and our cooperation is important for the peace and stability of the region.”

She also valued highly the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program of 2020, and highlighted their role in the Kingdom’s economic and social transformation and development. Recalling the historic ties between the peoples of the two countries that date back thousands of years, she noted that more than three million Indians are taking part in the Kingdoms’ economic development.

The festival runs for 21 days at the Janadriya village. It will open for men for four days from Thursday and will be restricted to families from Mondayonwards. The visitors’ timing is from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on all days except Friday. The visitors will be allowed from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Fridays. The festival is expected to draw millions of visitors from the Kingdom, the Gulf region and other places. In 2017, the festival drew a total of about 6.8 million visitors.


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