Thursday, April 21, 2011

Janadriyah 2011

Janadriyah festival 2013 has begun! Check out Blue Abaya guides to the festival: 

It's time for the annual cultural heritage festival of Saudi-Arabia, Janadriyah. The festival has been held for 26 years in the Janadriya village outside Riyadh. It's about an hour drive from city center towards Thumamah. The area covers 1.5 sq km and has replicas of buildings representing all the different regions of the country such as Jizan, Farasan, Abha, Mecca, Medinah, Qassim, Najran and many others. Visitors can buy handicrafts made by carpenters, blacksmiths, cobblers and weavers or they can try the different foods available from around the Kingdom. The festival boasts Saudi culture at its best and is a must see for all expats at least once!

Visitors can taste all the different delicious Saudi traditional foods from the various regions.
Although the buildings are the same every year it still always makes for an interesting visit againa and again, especially because of the Saudi people. Saudi women are very friendly and will try and make contact with western women at the festival. I often notice them secretly taking video or pictures of my western friends with their mobile phones. Like in this photo:
Some even come up and ask if they can be photographed with us. Sometimes I feel like a western woman at Janadriya is more of an attraction than the festival itself! I haven't figured the exact reason for why we seem to be such a peculiar sight.. But it's fun and interesting anyways!

During the course of four years I've attended the festival there has been some changes I've noted, some for the better some for worse.
Some improvements include they finally made maps of the area available and some info points. I noticed a lot more trash cans and staff for cleaning the area. They had put up more benches and toilets and in general the area looks much nicer this year.

This year the family days are for the majority of the festival unlike before when they were very limited and there used to be a female only day. I see this as an improvement because the festival is best visited with the family as a whole. There's lots of things for kids to do, they have a farm complete with all farm animals and the kids can go on camel and donkey rides.
The best improvement this year was the scarcity of the muttawa! I only saw a few at the gates and some patrolling the area. I heard this year they have cut down their numbers. Three years ago there were so many of them it was really annoying. I saw the muttawa scolding some young boys for their clothing choices. I guess they were not thrilled with the pink pants.

This year there was much more traditional music and dance performances, poetry recitals and all sorts of performing arts. Perhaps this is related to fewer members of CPVPV present?
A change for the worse were the appearance of way too many fastfood stalls.
I guess they are part of the modern day Saudi culture and therefore have a place at the festival..The only traditional aspect of this Herfys is the gender segregated sides for ordering!

During all these the 26 years the organizers still didn't think about organizing the parking. Now if 2 million people visit the place annually, you might think they would have a decent parking space for all those cars..But no. The parking area is utter chaos. There are no signs where the entrance or exit are. There's no one controlling the parking and worst of all they actually "forgot" to put in the white lines for parking spaces. So basically you can park anywhere, anyhow you feel like. How you suppose Saudis do with that :)
Recommended to arrive early! Check my Events section for details and timings.
The reason I love going to the festival is you never know what you're going to find there. This year it was a Saudi "Santa" handing out candies to children :)


Sefie said...

Topping report from festival and sensational photos. As at you always. I salute mum of angel :)

Soile said...

Great pics!

I miss Herfy's Club Sandwich, it's yummy ;-)

Anonymous said...

I went on the men's days earlier ... I saw a grand total of four western guys there (all in our group) and yes, we were movie stars for the day, too !

Felicia said...

I loved the pics. The National Guard does need to promote/advertise a little better in regards to the days being "single" or "family" and timings. But all in all it was a great experience, even having to travel from Dammam. I wish I could have had more time to explore the exhibits...inshallah next year.

Mrs Aquarius said...

I will be visiting the festival tomorrow, I am so looking forward to it although it will be a loong drive from Al Khobar. Great photos, I really enjoy following your blog!