Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eid al Fitr in Riyadh

The first three days of the Eid al Fitr following the ending of Ramadan were full of different celebrations around Riyadh. This wasn't always the case though, a few years ago there wasn't much happening in KSA during these holidays. Most Saudis used to flock abroad this time of the year so now they have tried to keep people in the country by arranging these events.
I went to the National museum garden where there was traditional singing, dancing and poetry recital shows. The audience there was segregated, men were in the front rows with best views.. Anyways the atmosphere was relaxed and the garden and fountain areas were packed with families having picnics enjoying the light and fountain shows.
The definite highlight was the event at the al Kindy square in the Diplomatic Quarters. The area was beautifully decorated and the event well organized. We were given seats on the golden chairs in the VIP area, for unknown reasons (other than we were the only westerners there?)
The show consisted of traditional singing and dancing from various regions around Saudi. The dancers were great and the audience was really into the show, especially the female audience seemed to particularly like some of the dancers (all male)!! This time they hadn't segregated all of the audience. Surprisingly only the single males were having the worst seats in their own pen away from the main audience.

Later on the press wanted to interview us for live tv and we agreed (I was so nervous I can't remember what I answered to the questions) Then when the event was over we were photographed for some local magazines together with the dancers and even got to hold the swords. They are very heavy btw.
Here are some random pics I took:

fireworks at the football stadium

Najdi singing/dancing group in DQ

the flower festival areaa muttawa at the King abdulaziz historical centre is caught on candid camera.

the fountain and light show at national museum

view from water tower looking down to the garden of national museum

a jasmine-haired girl from the Gizan dancers carries the bakhoor

sometimes being a westerner might get you a seat in the VIP section
the Gizan dance group reminded me very much of african tribal dances

this dancer from the Riyadh group had some seriously groovy moves, whenever he was on stage the ladies would start screaming!

boys all dressed up in daglah

girls in eid dresses

traditional salesman

sword dancing which if broadcasted in the western media would possibly be interpreted as "fanatic group of extremists performing jihad dancing" or "muslim warriors dance and chant with swords threatening world peace" 

bedouin man playing a rababah while singing poetry



UMM LATIFA (in Saudi Kingdom) said...

Hello! How did you know he is a mutawwa? for me he looks like a regular guy, that came to see the show (last pictures). Mutawwas usually are with two policemen, and they wear distinctive clothes (black abaya on white thobe). Guys in the pictures look like regular Saudis for me ;).

Layla said...

He was patrolling the area with the policemen, actually three police this time. I took the picture when the event was over while they were watching the people leaving.they dont always have the black "harry potter cape" on top of the thobes!
also the case in national museum, he didnt have the cape on and had three police with him.

aperture said...

Great blog! When an where will be the fireworks display at the end of Ramadan?

Layla said...

Thanks aperture!
I updated the events tab so you can see when and where the fireworks will be held :)