Janadriyah Festival gets bigger and better

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Updated 29 April 2014

Janadriyah Festival gets bigger and better

The 29th Janadriyah festival, the national heritage and culture extravaganza named after the village on the outskirts of Riyadh where it is held annually, reflects Saudi lifestyle like no other. It celebrates symbols of its identity, unity and integrity.
The first event of the annual festival, which was traditionally a camel festival, was held at the initiative of the late King Fahd in 1985.
Showcasing the customs, traditions, crafts, arts, moral values and ethics of the Kingdom and the Arabian Peninsula, the festival is also an important event for intellectuals and writers to express themselves through literary and cultural activities, such as, symposiums, seminars and poetry sessions.
The 17-day long festival organized by the National Guard was inaugurated by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, on Feb. 12 amid a colorful ceremony attended by dignitaries, heads of state, members of the royal family, high-ranking Saudi officials, diplomats, scholars and poets from across the world. The Saudi national anthem was played on the occasion.
Prominent guests included Bahraini crown prince Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, president of the Court of Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamid bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Riyadh Governor Prince Khaled bin Bandar, Riyadh Deputy Governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah, SCTA President Prince Sultan bin Salman and Madinah Governor Prince Faisal bin Salman.
Also present were about 50 ambassadors and other foreign dignitaries, including the Greek minister of tourism Olga Kefalogianni and the Moroccan tourism minister Lahcen Haddad.
In keeping with tradition, this year’s events started with a camel race in which hundreds of participants competed over a distance of 20 kms. The winners were awarded cash prizes and cars.
Speaking about the festival, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, minister of the National Guard, said: “The Janadriyah festival plays a crucial role in preserving the Kingdom’s national heritage and projecting the country’s glorious image locally and internationally.”
He further asserted that the festival is important for citizens to help encourage a sense of religious, national and social unity. The minister also thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for supporting and promoting the event.
Abdulmohsen bin Abdulaziz Al-Tuwaijiri, deputy minister of the National Guard, said the event “celebrates Saudi identity by showcasing the arts and rich culture.”
A committee was formed for all assistance and arrangements related to the festival. Participants in the camel race came from across the Kingdom as well as from the Gulf region.
Women volunteers from the Red Crescent and the Civil Defense are also on field to help female visitors.
According to the Red Crescent, “There are six ambulatory teams of 18-23 members from the women’s volunteer center, Riyadh, and the teams are co-operating with the visitors. There are special teams in the camps for Hail, Qassim, Madinah and Al-Baha for help.”
Saud Al-Rumi, spokesman for the festival committee, said “the event is bigger than last year’s and is expected to draw more than five million visitors from the Kingdom and abroad.”
According to Maj. Gen. Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, Commander of Security and Guarding Unit of Janadriyah Camp, so far, more than 1,400,000 visitors have visited the Janadriyah festival to enjoy
the activities of the festival, which are being promoted with fanfare in the media and are broadcast live on TV.
The unprecedented crowd necessitated the opening of the Western Gate to the festival ground for the first time in 15 years.
Large contingents of police and security forces are deployed because of the anticipated huge crowds. Visitors flocking the festival venue were full of praise for the beautiful display of rich heritage and culture, saying they were enthralled by the programs featuring an operetta, a performance of the traditional Saudi folk dance, Ardha, in which Prince Charles, heir apparent to the British throne, also participated.
Actors from the Makkah region performed a traditional dance on Feb. 19, which drew thousands of spectators.
Various regions of the Kingdom and other Gulf states are represented by pavilions in the ongoing festival, which aims to showcase the diversity of cultures and traditions in Arabia.
A huge number of tourists from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also seen soaking themselves in the rich Janadriyah experience. This year the UAE is the guest of honor at the festival.
Expressing his gratitude on the honor, UAE Ambassador Mohammed Saeed Al-Zahiri hailed the initiative taken by the organizers of Janadriyah festival. “Selection of the UAE as the guest of honor for the national festival of the Kingdom indicates the profound and solid bilateral relations binding the two fraternal countries,” Al-Zahiri said.
Cultural programs are being held in the King Faisal conference hall on a regular basis during the course of the festival.
Speaking during a symposium entitled “Saudi Arabia and Salafist movements in the Arab world,” participants affirmed that the Kingdom is following moderation urged by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah.
A seminar entitled ‘Kingdom and economic achievements in Infrastructure’ was held, asserting the importance of the role played by infrastructure in the expansion of the national economy to raise productivity, improve quality, expand the circle of competition and attract foreign investment.
Moreover, the SCTA has set up a bigger stand this year with the apex tourism body’s pavilion showcasing the travel and tourism history of the Kingdom, which is attracting a huge number of visitors. Seven tourism companies are organizing daily trips from all over the Kingdom and Kuwait to the festival grounds. The tour program also includes visits to the tourism and heritage monuments in the Saudi capital.
Apart from operating three tourism information centers on the festival grounds, the SCTA is also offering a number of tourist guides to the visitors. The centers provide the tourists with printed material, maps and photos of the festival and those of the touristic and historical sites in Riyadh.
Additionally, to promote tourism facilities, activities and services, the commission has established five information centers at the Kingdom’s major airports.
Meanwhile, more than 6,000 visitors to the festival have benefited from the health services provided by Jeddah Health Affairs over four days.
Apart from that, various ministries have set up their pavilions showcasing their work, as well as to host interactive sessions on current and upcoming projects, visions and missions to redress public grievances
Maj. General Abdulrahman, Commander of the Security and Guard Unit at the national festival, said: “Most of the pavilions received a rush of visitors on the second and third day.”
As locals and expatriates continue to visit the festival premises in huge numbers, the hotel occupancy rate in the Saudi capital has gone up to 90 percent.
Judging by the response of visitors, it appears that the Janadriyah festival has already fulfilled the promise of its founder, the late King Fahd, who started the festival to bring Saudis together and preserve the nation’s heritage.

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World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide

Updated 13 June 2018

World Cup 2018: A Muslim-friendly travel guide


Both Tunisia and Iran are based in the vibrant 800-year-old Russian capital, renowned for its golden domes and stunning orthodox architecture. It is home to the famous Russian ballet and a wealth of art, culture and iconic scenery, including the breathtaking Red Square. A truly multicultural capital, Moscow is home to a sizeable Muslim community, which first began to settle here around the time of the Golden Horde. If you want to explore some of the capital’s Islamic heritage, visit the historic Muslim area, Zamoskvorechie, and head for the ‘Historical Mosque,’ built in 1823 by Muslim tatars. Reopened in 1993 after a lengthy closure under communism, the mosque has recently undergone a major refurbishment. Along with the 10k-capacity Moscow Cathedral Mosque (pictured), it is the capital’s most significant Muslim building.
Halal Food: You’ll find plenty on offer, from highly rated restaurants including Mr. Livanets (Lebanese), Dyushes (Azerbaijani), and Gandhara (Asian) to halal food carts.
Mosque: The Moscow Cathedral Mosque on Pereulok Vypolzov.
Qibla: South.

Saint Petersburg

Saudi Arabia’s national team will be based in this bastion of Russian imperialism, known as the Russian ‘Venice’ for its stunning network of canals, neo-Renaissance architecture and its plethora of culture, arts and all things splendid. Visitors can enjoy a wealth of museums, galleries, open promenades and the finest dining in the northern hemisphere — talking of which, sun lovers will be delighted to know that during the World Cup the sun will barely dip below the horizon. Muslim visitors should not miss the St. Petersburg Mosque’s sumptuous Central Asian architecture and mesmeric blue tiles (pictured) — a design inspired by Tamerlane’s tomb in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Halal Food: Limited, in comparison to Moscow, but both Eastern European restaurant Navruz and Oh! Mumbai (Indian) have received generally positive online reviews.
Mosque: St. Petersburg Mosque on Kronverkskiy Prospekt.
Qibla: South-east.


Egypt’s ‘Pharaohs’ should feel right at home in the Chechen capital, which is home to a huge Muslim population (its coat of arms features a mosque), making it one of the most halal-friendly destinations on our list. The mosque in question is the city’s flagship monument and main tourist attraction, the Ottoman-style Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque. Modelled on Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Mosque and sited in a serene location on the west bank of the Sunzha River, it is part of an ‘Islamic’ complex also housing the Russian Islamic University, Kunta Hajji, and is the spiritual headquarters for the Muslims of the Chechen Republic. Much of Grozny is still being rebuilt after being virtually destroyed in two wars with Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, much of it through investment from the UAE.
Halal Food: Chechnya is majority-Muslim, so you’ll be spoiled for choice, from fast-food chain Ilis to high-end restaurants in five-star hotels.
Mosque: Akhmad Kadyrov on Prospekt Putina.
Qibla: South-west.


Morocco are based in quiet (at least until the tournament starts), picturesque Voronezh. The city is littered with lush green spaces and stunning churches. It’s home to a large orthodox Christian community, as well as small Jewish and still-smaller Muslim ones. The city’s beautiful 114-year-old synagogue on Ulitsa Svobody is a popular tourist attraction. Those looking for more ‘familiar’ heritage should head to the Kramskoy Museum of Fine Arts on Revolyutsii Avenue, home to an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian works of art on stone and sarcophagi.
Halal Food: Very sparse. The Asian restaurant Bahor bills itself as offering the “only halal food in Voronezh,” and there are reportedly a couple of grocery stores selling halal meat, one in the city’s central market.
Mosque: While no official mosque has yet been built in Voronezh, Muslims do gather to pray. According to Halalguide.me, there is an informal mosque on Ulitsa Gvardeyskaya.
Qibla: South.


Essentuki, which will host Nigeria in its Pontos Plaza Hotel (pictured), is famous for its health spas and mineral water, so the 'Super Eagles' should at least be able to relax after their games. Muslim visitors may want to drop by Kurortny Park, where the drinking gallery was inspired by Islamic Moorish design.
Halal Food: Hard to find. There is a kebab house that may be able to provide halal options. Otherwise, head to the area around the mosque in nearby Pyatigorsk.
Mosque: The nearest mosque is 25 minutes drive west in Pyatigorsk, on Skvoznoy Pereulok.
Qibla: Southwest.


It’s all about space exploration in the city where Senegal will be based. Space travel pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky taught in Kaluga in his early years. The town’s main attraction — unsurprisingly — is the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, reportedly the world’s first space museum. Second billing goes to the rocket scientist’s quaint old wooden family home.
Halal Food: Very hard to find. Asian restaurant Chaikhana and Russian eatery Solyanka (pictured) appear to cater to alternative dietary requirements, and may be worth a call.
Mosque: The town’s main mosque is a converted building off Ulitsa Annenki.
Qibla: South.