For two weeks every year, the past
comes to Riyadh - and it's alive and well. The vibrant Janadriyah Annual
Heritage and Culture Festival in Riyadh City District is a showcase for crafts
from across the Kingdom organized by the National Guard. It celebrates the
cultural traditions that unite this great country, while also revealing the
regional differences which create the distinctive character of Saudi
The festival includes displays of regional architecture,
cuisine, craft, markets, dances and folklore. It lasts approximately two weeks
and takes place in the winter when the weather is cooler. There are working
displays of carpet-weaving, pottery-making, and woodcarving from different
regions. Arabian dancers and singers provide entertainment, while reviving all
the traditional songs of different regions. There are also displays by the
armed forces, and displays of traditional swords and daggers.
Valor in Battle
Hanging by my side was a sharp, well-made sword; its broad
blade glittered in my right hand.
My fearless heart routs the enemy with it; it is my best
companion on a dark nightā
I also carry tucked in my belt a crooked dagger that
resembles a poisonous snake for my enemies, or a draught of cool fresh water
for my friends.
By Abu Hamzih al-Amri
Al Janadriyah Festival
You can buy
jewellery, perfume, shesha, halwa, wood and ceramics. Themes vary each year,
often with one province having a special feature. In 1424H (2003) there was a
replica of the old Medinah with people actually using the shops. The event also
includes traditional sports and Janadriyah is famous for the annual Riyadh
camel race when 2,000 camels and their riders compete.
The festival is divided into men-only, women-only and family
days. On the women-only days they have activities such as henna-etching and
Arabic make-up displays which aren't there on the other days. In 1419H (1998)
the Janadriyah Festival honored the women artists, poets, singers and folk
dancers of Asir, with a three day women's music festival. For the first time
their local traditions took to a wider stage where it was much appreciated.
The Janadriyah site is 30km north east of Riyadh on the Al
Janadriyah Road. Take Dammam highway and take the left fork which is well
signposted. Its located beside the Horse Racing Club.
Weekly camel racing takes place every Monday in the winter.
There are smaller festivals that take place in other towns in the region, often
around Eid celebrations, which range from dancing to poetry reading.