Swaraj to showcase India’s soft power, economic growth at Saudi festival


Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi showcased the India growth story at the gathering of the global elite in Davos, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj heads to Saudi Arabia to inaugurate the popular festival of Janadriyah, which will put the spotlight on the country’s soft power and economic prowess. The February 6-8 visit by Swaraj will mark the first high-level visit after Mr Modi’s visit to the Gulf kingdom in 2016 and comes ahead of his three-nation tour of Palestine, the UAE and Oman.

Organized annually since 1985 by the National Guard, Janadriyah is a cultural and heritage festival that draws more than one million visitors every year. This year India is the “Guest of Honour country” at the 18-day festival.

Speaking at a press conference with Saudi Minister of National Guard Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Muhammad bin Eyaf al-Muqrin Al-Saud, Minister of State for External Affairs V. K. Singh said, “There will be displays and presentations by ministries and departments such as Indian Ordnance Factories Board, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), India Tourism board, ministry of shipping, ministry of textiles, handicrafts promotion council, ministry of food processing industries, skill development, Digital India, Make in India etc”. Top Indian companies like Larsen & Tubro, Tata Motors, Al Abeer Medical Group, Jet Airways, Shapoorji Pallonji and Aster Med City will be participating in the event.

On the cultural side, the Indian pavilion will showcase the colours and vibrancy of India’s folk culture, traditional costumes, Indian perfumes, bridal costumes, artefacts, display of specimen of calligraphy and Arabic manuscripts. Visitors at the festival will also get a taste of the flavours of India, given the popularity of Indian cuisine. Moreover, Bollywood, yoga and dance will also be featured at the festival.

With more than three million expatriate Indians, Saudi Arabia is India’s valuable partner with which it also shares a deep rooted civilizational and strategic relationship. One fifth of India’s crude oil comes from this Gulf kingdom and it is India’s fourth largest trade partner after China, the US and the UAE with bilateral trade standing at USD 25.079 billion during 20916-17.