Saudi feared religious police storm Al Janadriyah UAE pavilion
RIYADH - A member of the Saudi feared religious police, known as Mutawa, stormed the UAE pavilion at National Festival for Heritage and Culture, also known as Al Janadriyah, but was forced out by the Gulf Kingdom’s national guards.
The incident took place when the Mutawa member objected to the presence of the Emirati singer Aryam in her country’s pavilion.
A brief U-Tube film showed several guards surround the member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice before they escorted him out of the pavilion at the annual festival in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
The Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq, which published the film, said the Commission members went into the UAE stand to protest some of its contents but was forced to leave by national guards who are in charge of security at the week-long festivities.
“The national guards chased the Commission member into the UAE stand, grabbed him and forced him out to the applause of scores of visitors, mainly women,” the paper said without giving further details.
Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdallaziz, Governor of the Riyadh province, ordered an investigation into the incident.
Speaking of her participation in Al Janadriyah, Aryam said, “I didn’t sing. I just greeted the Saudi audience with a bouquet from the Emirati folklore. My participation didn’t exceed 20 seconds, and I was not accompanied by a band.”
She added in remarks published in the Saudi daily Al Asharq, "I respect our Arab Gulf customs and traditions."
The United Arab Emirates’ pavilion witnessed large crowds of visitors after the inauguration of the Festival.
The Women Market has lured families who have come to find out about the Emirati handicrafts, made by creative Emirati hands. Visitors also flocked to the UAE’s Information Desk to become acquainted with tourist destinations in the UAE and get instruction leaflets that are aimed at helping them when they travel to the UAE.
The families enjoyed the folklore bands performances in Al Ittihad yard inside the pavilion that was raised on a three-dimensional form, 50% the real size of Al Hosn Palace in Abu Dhabi.
The pavilion’s goals are to shed light on the important phases of the UAE’s history, and put emphasis on the Emirati heritage so as to reflect the different aspects of the rich traditional life in the country.
According to the visitors, the success of the UAE’s pavilion at Al Janadriyah is due to Emiratis’ ability to present the country’s legacy with its values and originality.
This year’s Emirati participation in Al Janadriyah, prepared under the supervision of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), is considered as one of the biggest since the launch of the Festival.