RIYADH: India will be the “guest of honor” at Saudi Arabia’s National Festival for Heritage and Culture, popularly known as the Janadriyah festival, to be inaugurated on Feb. 7.
A diverse spread of India’s culture and science will be on display at Janadriyah festival, with an enriching mix of old and new, from Bollywood to traditional culture and from classical dance to technological prowess.
The 18-day cultural festival will be held under the patronage of King Salman at Janadriyah, 42 km northeast of Riyadh.
The Indian pavilion will be embellished with cutting-edge technology displaying the march of India and its growing relations with the Kingdom. A performance of a traditional percussion ensemble will introduce Indian dance and musical genre, which will add to the festive atmosphere.
Aiming to expand its global outreach and find cultural synergies with countries with rich cultural and civilizational heritage and contemporary technical advancement, the Saudi government started inviting a foreign country as the “guest of honor” every year.
India’s selection as the “guest of honor” country this year will help further build Saudi-India relations.
“The Kingdom has always taken cognizance of India’s historical socio-economic-cultural bonding with the people of the Arabian Peninsula,” a press statement from the Indian Embassy in Riyadh said.
“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 Saudi leadership, during which he emphasized 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 Janadriyah 2018.”
“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,” said Ahmed Javed, Indian ambassador in Riyadh, during a press conference early this week.
“A high-level ministerial delegation will visit Riyadh for the inaugural ceremony on Feb. 7,” Javed said.
“It is an honor to be part of such a prestigious heritage and culture festival that provides us an effective platform to showcase India’s growing economic might, industrial prowess and the magic of our cultural performances.”
Classical dance
When asked about India’s participation, the Indian envoy replied: “Our participation covers setting up stalls inside a covered hall called India Pavilion, cultural performances reflecting classical and contemporary forms of dances, and a series of seminars and B2B interactions.”
India’s commercial display will be represented by the Ministries of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH); tourism; shipping; textiles (handicrafts); food processing; the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP); the Ordnance Factory Board; and the Department of Space.
From the corporate side, several major Indian companies will attend Janadriyah.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) will also organize a seminar on Feb. 11 in association with the Council
of Saudi Chambers (CSC) with a special focus on the food-processing industry and the “Make in India” campaign.
Saudi authorities have provided an open-air stage, adjacent to the hall of India Pavilion, for cultural performances, which include Bollywood film screenings as well as displays of Arabic calligraphy from Rampur Raza Library.
Students of the International Indian Schools in Riyadh, Jubail and Dammam will present their cultural program.
The Indian Embassy has also planned Indian community participation on the basis of states.
In Janadriyah this year, there will be 2,000 exhibitors featuring a range of products and services from ancient Arabia to the modern world. This will be in addition to the Indian pavilion.
The festival is expected to draw millions of visitors from Saudi Arabia and abroad, according to organizers.
Started in 1985 and sponsored by the Ministry for the National Guard, the festival features a variety of activities including a camel race, horse race, sports, dance, arts, history, falconry, and traditional arts and crafts.

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