RIYADH: King Salman of Saudi Arabia performed the opening ceremony of the 33rd Janadriyah festival on Thursday before an invited audience of distinguished and royal guests.
The festival, an annual celebration of Saudi heritage and culture, got underway immediately in the traditional manner — with the colorful and spectacular Grand Camel Race.
Among the guests were the Crown Prince of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah; Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, representing the King of Bahrain; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE minister of foreign affairs; and Shihab bin Tariq Al-Saeed, adviser to Sultan Qaboos of Oman.
In a speech welcoming the king and his guests, Prince Khalid bin Abdul Aziz bin Ayyaf, Minister of the National Guard, said the theme of this year’s festival was Faithfulness and Loyalty.
The minister also welcomed representatives from Indonesia, this year’s national guest of honor. King Salman visited Indonesia’s pavilion at the festival, and was briefed on its contents, including photos reflecting deep-rooted ties between the two countries, and videos of the old Hajj journey.
The king looked at photos of the late King Faisal’s visit to Indonesia in 1970 and Indonesian presidential visits to Saudi Arabia. He was also briefed on the Indonesian islands and the country’s economic achievements.
The pavilion includes a section devoted to traditional costumes and crockery, another to Arabic calligraphy and manuscripts, models of the legendary Garuda aircraft in Bali and traditional handicrafts.
Dr. Alwi Shihab, the Indonesian president’s special envoy to the Middle East and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), told Arab News it was a “privilege” for his nation to be invited by Saudi Arabia to take part in the event, and said it would further strengthen the bond between the two countries.
“We are proud of this appointment, which many countries aspire to, and we are thankful to the king and to the government of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The festival continues for three weeks.