2012 Arab News
2012-02-12 Janadriyah, a festival of the human spirit
Published: Feb 12, 2012 23:00 Updated: Feb 12, 2012 23:00

I borrowed the title from a well presented YouTube on Janadriyah, the Saudi annual festival 42 km northeast of Riyadh. We are proud of Janadriyah. Why? Because it is the main venue for Saudi Arabias national festival of heritage and culture and the most traditional and colorful of all the festivals that are held in Saudi Arabia.

No, Janadriyah Festival is not just a story of the past, but rather a rich cultural presentation of the past and present Saudi Arabia introduced on a wonderful cultural platform. Actually, it represents cultures that gathered and formed in this region over a period of many years.

As someone said, Janadriyah highlights the culture and heritage of our country which, for the new generation, is a window to the vibrant past. I believe it is also a stepping stone into the future if we knew how to pursue it.

Where did the story start? Long ago, Janadriyah was known as Rowdhat Souwais. It started as a simple camel race which shows the real talent of Arabian heritage. The tact with which the young men handle the camels is fascinating and shows how well they have both been trained.

Going back in history, the festival, for the first time, was inaugurated by the late King Fahd in 1985. We came a long way, as we pursue the implementation of the interfaith initiative and extend a hand to the rest of the World, Janadriyah today represents a crossroads where beautiful poetry, intellect, culture, art, theater, as well as heritage and history meet.

Janadriyah is no longer just a camel race, lots of other attractions are brought about every year celebrating many aspects of the Saudi culture. In addition, it includes events that draw peoples interest and attention because of the valuable topics that they address. It invites huge flow of population, both local and foreign, to the festival village.
There are also the other entertaining activities that add on to the enjoyment of the Janadriyah Festival. The idea here is to help integrate all the flavors of the Saudi heritage and enjoy the true and the exotic colors of our culture. This year King Abdullah ordered the cancelation of two major events, a musical opera and Ardha dance, as a gesture of Saudi Arabias solidarity with the people of Syria and other parts in the Arab world.

The part that I truly enjoy is the intellectual discussions among Arab and foreign thinkers, reporters and writers. The festival attracts a huge number of Saudi and foreign prominent intellectuals to exchange ideas and discuss arts, literature, media and culture. I like the idea that the festival aims to instill values such as accepting others ideas, opinions and positive criticism. I also like the idea that there are participants from different selected regions in the country. The event is also attended by heads of state and foreign diplomats. In addition, there is a special wing for visual arts featuring 27 exhibitions as well as a Saudi library with 300 titles.

This year, the festival will honor a number of intellectuals and thinkers from both genders. 16 personalities from Saudi Arabia would be honored. As usual, children would not be forgotten. There is a childrens theater featuring six plays during the festival.

The festival still maintains its popularity and originality and will continue to do so for many years to come. If you still havent decided weather or not to go, I assure you that this is a rare opportunity for you to colorful Saudi culture at its best.

2012 Arab News
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