The Janadriyah Festival: At the forefront of our minds throughout the year
When the National Guard in Saudi Arabia decided to organize a national festival of heritage and culture in Janadriyah in the mid-1980s, a delegation visited the region’s research centres to discuss ways to develop and implement the idea. At this time, I had the honour of participating in the discussions held at the Arab Gulf States Folklore Centre in Doha, a centre that I directed until it closed.
The idea of a festival was new to the region, though people from across the Kingdom had participated in a popular camel-racing event in Janadriyah at which winners received trophies and cash prizes. The cultural elite decided that the event should grow to include poets, artisans, craftsmen, folk music bands and performers. We wanted to create a heritage village that could host a folklore festival, but we also realized that the festival could help to popularize authentic Saudi Arabian culture worldwide.
It has been very successful, and the local camel-racing event has grown into a national festival that includes book fairs and symposia. The Saudi National Guard has been able to attract regional and international thinkers from a variety of intellectual, artistic and political backgrounds to the Janadriyah Festival, creating a multi-ethnic and multicultural event.
In the past twenty-seven years, the Festival has achieved important goals, the most remarkable being the openness to exchanging thoughts and culture, the official and public consensus on the importance of heritage and folk culture, and the need to emphasize heritage and culture’s spiritual and aesthetic importance to our lives today.
The Janadriyah Festival was the brainchild of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who supervises its implementation. King Abdullah’s directives and his inspiring vision, which stems from his closeness to the Saudi people, have made the event a great success. The Festival is always held under his patronage, and His Majesty meets with important guests and citizens during the opening ceremony.
His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain also attends the Festival’s opening ceremony because of his deep appreciation for folk culture that promotes brotherhood and the concept of a common destiny. His Majesty King Hamad is patron of the annual Bahrain Heritage Festival, which is held in April; this Festival also celebrates folk culture.
We greatly appreciate His Majesty the King of Bahrain’s attendance at Janadriyah Festival, and we greatly appreciate the role played by His Royal Highness Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Minister of State, Commander of the Saudi National Guard and President of the Higher Organizing Committee of the Janadriyah Festival. The Festival is an outstanding cultural event that has achieved success upon success by highlighting the importance of folk culture as part of Arab culture.
Editor In Chief