CONSERVATIVE OPENNESS PAYS TO KINGDOM

Saudi Arabia showcases Janadriya to world

Zahid Malik

Saturday, March 20, 2010 – Comments

Riyadh—While most of the Muslim countries are bogged down in their domestic self-created trivial issues and theirleaderships have neither awareness nor capability to grapple with them, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has found a way-out: Conservative openness.

About 400 literary men and thinkers from all over the world have been invited in Riyadh to participate in the festivities of the 25th Janadriya National Festival for Heritage and Culture.

The participants include Dr. Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia, Dr. Mohammad Younes of Bangladesh, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary General of the United Nations and a host of foreign personalities, primarily from the Arab world. Interestingly, France featured a significant presence as it participated in a big way hosting its own pavilion in the festivaldesigned to bring the Parisian street scene to the Saudi desert. Pakistan had no noteworthy presence in any way.

King Abdullah, Custodian of the two Holy Muslim shrines, charmed a select gathering by his gentle participation in the traditional sword-brandishing dance, a highlight in the very impressive cultural event in the evening. 25-km grand camel race was another enjoyable feature at which the camel “Hadaj”, owned by Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Bahd Bin Abdul Aziz, came first out of 1,000 competitors.

What was more rewarding part of the very well organized and extremely impressive Janadriya event was a lot of intellectual and literary activity. Specialized Seminars and discussion sessions where crucial issues like coexistence and cultural dialogue, poverty, world economic crisis and Islam in the present day context were discussed. Some issues relating to electronic media, which are a subject of hot discussion in Pakistan these days, were also discussed here in a wider perspective at a session chaired by Dr. Fahed Al-Khuraiji of Saudi Arabia.

An extremely useful open meeting was another highlight of the well-conceived high-profile programmes of the week-long festivities. HRH Prince Met’eb Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Chairman of the National Guard and Deputy Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Festival, a vibrant Prince, personally supervised every minutest detail of the festival and chaired this interactive meeting.

To sum up, I would say it was an intellectual expo. A conservative openness is visible all around. King Abdullah plans to turn Janadriya as an international event so that it was a perfect vehicle and PR exercise to bring the Kingdom closer to the world. The Janadriya was being given finishing touches to draw crowds from both around the region and around the world. Now there are tourism visas available. The way the Kingdom is being showcased has further enhanced the King’s internationalstanding who is hosting today (Saturday) a royal reception for the participating personalities at his Palace.

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