04 March 2017


Saudi Arabia might be slowly opening up right now (we'll see), but for over 30 years they've had a festival in the spring that is the main cultural event of the year in this part of the country. I've been looking forward to the Janadriyah Festival for a long time.

The logistics of going to this are a bit hard.  It's only open for families for about a week and over a million people go so it can be terribly crowded.  The weekends are the worst, but I was able to avoid that and go on a Monday and Tuesday evening, first with my husband and then on my own.  Parking/drop off is either slow or you can walk a long way (I recommend the latter), but once you're in there, it's an amazing place.

Everything I'd read about the festival, and I mean everything, talked about how many mutaween are always there, but either because we were there on boring nights or because the mutawa isn't as powerful right now, I saw no religious police and walked around with my head uncovered and even held my husband's hand.  So exciting.  Everyone was so warm and welcoming, without exception.

There's a lot to see here, from camels to falcons to dancing, but I wanted to see all of the provinces and I almost made it to all of them.  A few years ago they built a large, permanent compound (sort of like state fairgrounds in the US) with sections for each of the provinces.  They each had spaces for demonstrating handicrafts, selling stuff, food stands, traditional houses, and all sorts of other things.  It was so interesting to be able to go inside all the different homes, plus there was lots of food to try or to buy and so many things to see.  I didn't take the camera with me the second night, unfortunately.

They also have spaces for the other Gulf countries, plus a guest country. This year was Egypt so we were happy to poke around in there.  

It's fun to see the photos others post and hear what their favorite parts were.  There really is far more to see and do than is possible in one night.

I can't wait for next year.

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