Saudi Arabia National Heritage and Folk Culture Festival

Saudi Arabia National Heritage and Folk Culture Festival (Janadriyah Festival)

Two weeks in February/March
Janadriyah, a town located outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is the site of an annual camel race every year that dates back to the early 1970s. The event attracted the country's traditionalists because it exemplified the older customs of Saudi Arabia, a country whose steps at modernization have been a source of national concern in recent decades.
Seeking to promote the traditional nature of this event and other customs, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz and the National Guard established the National Heritage and Folk Culture Festival in 1985. The camel race remains the central event of this annual two-week festival, popularly called the Janadriyah Festival, but other activities promoting time-honored expressions and practices round out the program. Classical forms of poetry, dance, theater, and music are all featured, as well as exhibitions of traditional crafts.
About 3,000 camels and their jockeys compete in the big race before a large crowd, which typically includes Saudi Arabia's reigning monarch. Nearby the site of the race stands a permanent "heritage" village, where artisans like carpenters, blacksmiths, metalsmiths, and cobblers demonstrate their crafts. The village usually features a beit sha'ar, a Bedouin tent that offers spectators a vivid picture of nomad life.
Each night ends with nightly readings of poetry, lectures on Arabic literature, and music and dance performances by troupes from throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
CONTACTS:
Saudi Arabia Embassy
601 New Hampshire Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
202-337-4076; fax: 202-944-5983
www.saudiembassy.net