JEDDAH/RIYADH: As the sun set on Friday evening, people gathered at Jeddah Art Promenade to enjoy the Saudi National Day celebrations.
The nation’s dark green and white flag was seen everywhere and many children wore matching clothes. Some women wore crystals on their faces while others wore abayas to complete the theme. The men wore wigs and carried flags.
A parade began as the sun set and the city cooled, its departure heralded by a distant roll of drums beckoning visitors to their feet.
The small group marching along the Jeddah waterfront were dressed mostly in white. Graceful dancers led the way, followed by drums that helped stir people’s spirits. In the center was a man walking on stilts and dressed in the classic Saudi attire of a thobe and headband, or “igaal”.
“It always arouses a sense of patriotism when I visit events like these that take place on National Day,” 24-year-old Mariam Mohammad told Arab News.
“I dragged my family out of the house today. The crowds and traffic were what were stopping them, but we only have one night of the year to celebrate and I wasn’t going to let it go. pass,” she said.
Aitzaz Zayn, a Pakistani expat living in Jeddah, said: “I’m not from Saudi Arabia, but I always like to go out and join in the celebrations. There is something very beautiful about people coming together and celebrating their country. »
The Jeddah parade was just one of many events held throughout the day.
The Royal Saudi Navy’s parade took place on Jeddah’s Corniche on Friday and large crowds gathered to cheer it on as part of celebrations for the 92nd Saudi National Day.
The fun started with an HZ-MS16 helicopter flying over the waterfront as onlookers were told all about it via a commentary played over loudspeakers.
One of the most powerful aircraft in the Royal Navy, the helicopter is designed for use in search and rescue operations as well as having anti-submarine capabilities.
A number of vessels designed for surveillance, search and rescue and assistance operations were also on the waterfront for people to see.
Salha Al-Shamrani and her daughter Hind visited the show together and were impressed with what they saw.
“It was such an interesting National Day event this year,” Al-Shamrani told Arab News.
“We learned so much from the live audio and watching the tanks and boats. The kids learned a lot too.
“There is nothing like the Saudi Royal Navy. My husband is an instructor there, so we know how the rescue operations are going,” she added.
Hind also found the event informative.
“It was such a beautiful and rich participation from which I learned a lot. The parade was also a lot of fun,” she said.
“We could see the ships, tanks, submarines, etc. I learned their types and what each is for.
joy in the park
A spectacular range of activities are offered at Prince Majid Park in Jeddah to mark the Saudi National Day.
The party started on Wednesday and will continue through Saturday, with visitors treated to a host of family and community events to celebrate the Kingdom’s culture and diversity. These include folk dances, incredible traveling performances, a musical fountain show, heritage-focused trade and craft stalls, and plenty of delicious food.
Amr Alyamani, Deputy Venue Manager, said, “We are trying to improve the National Day experience for everyone throughout the weekend. Our aim is to create as much joy and excitement as visitors are mesmerized by the attractions and the musical fountain that plays every 30 minutes.
“The stage performances will also reflect the rich history and captivate the audience with a memorable performance centered on diversity and togetherness,” he added.
“This year, we aim to signify our national journey by acknowledging our past, rejoicing in the present and together looking positively towards our future.”
Saudi Tennis Federation coach Alexia Tashbaeva took part in the celebrations.
“We are here in the park to introduce the sport to children. This way we encourage younger generations to come and play with us,” she said.
“As an outsider, these festivals portray the strength of unity and provide an opportunity to bring people together to share our love of sport with residents.”
Saeed Baqar, flautist, said: “Celebrating this special national occasion is an affirmation of our role as inspiring and creative artists to present traditional Saudi music in a contemporary way.
Tickets for the event cost SR30 ($8) and visitors can also shop for National Day souvenirs and dine at the food stalls.
Family Fun in Riyadh
On Friday, Grassy Park in Riyadh’s diplomatic district hosted a host of National Day activities, including horse shows, carnival games and giveaways.
Nabil Cho, a South Korean working in the Kingdom, was among those who took advantage of all the pleasures on offer.
“I didn’t expect an event like this to happen on a national holiday,” he told Arab News. “It’s my first time visiting here and I’m really excited and really enjoying my time here. It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful.”
Cho said he heard about the National Day festivities online and invited some of his South Korean friends and colleagues to join him.
Olivier Pierre, a French tourist, was in Grassy Park with his wife and friends.
“I think this event is very interesting because I am just discovering the Saudi culture. Today is the National Day and I am very interested to know more about cultural dances and music, that’s why I am here and it is above my expectation,” he said. -he declares.
“My wife is also very interested in learning about Saudi culture. She discovered this place in the Saudi group event chats.
In addition to the action-packed activities, food stalls and shops sold traditional dishes and goods to visitors, many of whom wore festive attire.
All Grassy Park activities are open to the public from 5 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays.