Beginner's luck? Jeddah's 1st Festival for Heritage and Culture a hit with 75K visitors

Published January 27th, 2014 - 11:40 GMT

The 1st edition of the Jeddah Festival for Heritage and Culture was considered a success after it concluded at downtown Balad on Saturday, attracting more than 750,000 visitors from Jeddah and the rest of the Kingdom.

The festival, held under the support of Makkah Gov. Prince Mishal Bin Abdullah and head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Prince Sultan Bin Salman, kicked off on Jan. 16 and showcased 46 traditional, cultural and educational activities as well as comedy plays and folk dance shows.

The 10-day festival highlighted the Hijazi culture of the region in a dynamic and entertaining way, according to head of the organizing committee Abdullah al-Dhawi.

He stated that the festival succeeded in attracting a large number of visitors from different age categories, in particular Jeddah and surrounding communities.

He also claimed the partnership between the Jeddah Municipality, SCTA and Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) was a huge factor in attracting visitors.

Beautiful image

The festival activities demonstrated a beautiful image of Jeddah’s heritage.

At its conclusion, the historical Balad area witnessed a number of traditional musical pieces.

Local Hijazi bands participated in the final day with different pieces that reflected their heritage.

Mohammed al-Garni of Sabit al-Alaya, a visitor to the historical area, said he came to Jeddah along with his family to spend the mid-term vacation.

He believed the festival provided a rare opportunity to experience Hijazi heritage.

“I and my family found it very interesting to see how the old generations of Jeddah lived and what got our attention were the old houses, which we hope to see in better shape next year because they really represent the old history of Jeddah,” he said.

He said his family and teachers demanded he take back with him mementos that reflect different elements of Hijazi culture.

Hussain al-Zahrani of al-Baha said he found the festival interesting.

“I am deeply fascinated by the variety of folk arts of Jeddah.

“A visit to the festival ground gives a visitor like me the opportunity to view and enjoy different Hijazi art forms and traditions in one place.”

Speaking proudly as the festival came to an end, event organizer Zaki Hassanin said he was glad and relieved to see the festival conclude.

Tough job

He said: “Believe me it was a very tough job but we managed to make it a successful event.”

Holding the festival on an annual basis is important, according to Hassanin.

“Through the festival, the idea and concept of the historical area is being restored in the memories of people,” he said.

He hoped the festival would help support the completion of the historical area’s restoration and accessibility project.

“The historical area is very important to the history of Jeddah, and should be preserved by all means necessary,” he said.

More than 750,000 visitors attended the first festival, which ran for 10 days and included historical exhibitions, live performances, traditional souk stalls, folk dances and Hijazi people selling local arts and crafts.

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