Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Janadriyah Culture Festival

The Janadriyah Culture Festival is held once a year and celebrates the heritage and culture of all the provinces of Saudi Arabia. We attended last year in February and had a fabulous time. If it is possible, we enjoyed ourselves even more this time.

This is the food aisle with fast food options. Exploring the province areas yielded more authentic and interesting food options.

We all found the military tent very interesting. This very friendly soldier spoke to us and demonstrated these robots. He was very engaging and wanted to really interact with people.

There was a shooting booth with a pistol shooting rubber bullets. The soldiers helped each of my children shoot at a target. Imagine my surprise when they invited me to take a turn. I wonder if they let Saudi women shoot.

This man was carving stone into designs and pictures. He was using another stone to do the work. This was a section demonstrating traditional Saudi handicrafts.

Even though Riyadh is a modern city, the culture is never far from its roots as a desert people. Livestock and farming were important means to feed people.

This was a fun booth showing traditional wooden toys.

This man was making different types of sling shots. My kids now own slingshots of their own. I couldn't resist.

This tent shows a traditional desert campsite. The rugs and cushions make it very comfortable.

You can't see it very well from this picture, but there is a very lean hunting dog, a saddle, and two falcons tied to their perches.

This man was playing this wailing instrument. He moved the bow across the strings to make an interesting sound.

This cow was drinking milk from its own udder. I had no idea that it was even possible, but this cow was extremely flexible and determined. The picture doesn't show it very well, but I promise I saw the cow sucking on its own teats.

I love the colorful saddles and blankets for the camels.

The muttawa were out in force patrolling the area like never before. I ran into more muttawa in 3 hours than I have in the entirety of my stay in Riyadh. Each time they asked my husband to make me cover. Lovely, right?? I ended up covering my hair for much of the time. I asked a Saudi lady to help me do it as it is kind of tricky. She was sweet, laughing as she helped me. It isn't my favorite look, but certainly something different and unique to the area.

We were lucky to catch a performance of sword dancing. These men marked the time with their feet and swords to a drum beat and some music. There were two lines of men facing one another. My son informed me that it was a military dance intended to hype the men up before battle. It also is formal and has controlled movements.

Here are some of the dancers taking a break. Saudi men wear white thobes and these checked head coverings in every day life. In the winter they wear heavier robes in grey and brown . Some men wear white shawls, but I think the red-checked coverings are more common.

Another obligatory camel picture. . .

My eldest and youngest are too cute for words. Notice the wall  pattern. Cool, right?

Just a picture of the market.

Not the best picture, I know, but here is a display of some traditional handicrafts.

A typical room with a fireplace, coffee karafes, rugs, and cushions. The bread in the foreground is baked on coals. It is hollow in the middle and filled with a sweet filling like cinnamon or honey.

This was a freestyle sword dance. The men leaped around the stage and were much more animated. After the dance I was walking away smiling when a Saudi lady called to me and said, "You look happy. You like it here?" I replied that I was happy and enjoying the cultural festival very much. We spoke to many people, both men and women. My daughter and youngest son practiced saying "Ana ismy ______" which means "My name is _____________" in Arabic. This charmed many people. I'm just glad my kids are willing to be open and talk to people.

A boat exhibit at the marketplace.

This was in the Mecca section. I'd really like to get a metal tea set with the tiny cups.

I just liked this scene with this man and the tea/coffee karafes and the bread. My husband calls the sandals "Jesus" sandals. Most of the men wear these when it is warm.

I had some henna art done by a lady walking around doing art on the spot. My daughter also had some done. It is very pretty. The kids found swords and daggers and begged to buy them. It was hilarious to see my daughter wearing an abaya (I found a cute one to buy her) with a fake dagger wrapped around her waist. At any moment she'd whip out the dagger and attack. This is what happens when you have four brothers!

Despite the muttawa, we had a really lovely time. I love interacting with the Saudis. They answered our questions, smiled at our children, and welcomed us to their country. 

If you have a chance, make sure you go to the festival. It closes on April 17th.

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