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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: The first Saudi-India Festival was recently held in Jeddah as part of an agreement between the Consulate General of India and Goodwill Global Initiative.
Almost 5,000 people, including prominent Saudis, turned out to celebrate the friendship between the Kingdom and India.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1947, and the two sides celebrated 75 years of diplomatic relations in 2022.
A cultural fiesta, featuring performances by Saudi and Indian artists, enthralled audiences at the International Indian School’s Jeddah auditorium.
Indian Consul General Mohammed Shahid Alam, in his keynote address, said that the new generation of Saudi and Indian youth should learn about the shared history and culture of the two countries.
“As an Indian, I feel proud of these special relationships and bonds that serve as the foundation for all our relationships. Today, India and Saudi Arabia are strategic partners, and are taking great strides in the economic relationship, manifested in the exchange of frequent high-level visits,” said Alam.
He hailed the achievements of Saudis of Indian origin who settled in the Kingdom more than 100 years ago and have become part of modern Saudi Arabia.
“We have decided to celebrate the remarkable achievements of these Saudis together with the talent of the Indian diaspora in the Kingdom,” Alam added.
Special guests at the festival included Adil Hamza Malaibari, supervisor of Madrasa Malaibariya in Makkah; Tarek Mishkhas, editor-in-chief of Malayalam News; Dr. Akila Sarirete, dean of the college of engineering at Effat University; and Dr. Ghadeer Talal Melibari, assistant professor, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah.
The guests of the evening also included Consuls Mohammed Abdul Jaleel and Mohammed Hashim, and Abeer Medical Group President Mohammed Alungal.
Goodwill Global Initiative President Hassan Cheruppa presided over the inaugural session while General Secretary Ishaque Poondoli proposed a vote of thanks.
A documentary highlighting the centuries-old economic and cultural ties between India and Saudi Arabia was shown at the festival. It covered the Indian trade routes — the ancient spice route, Silk Road and incense route.
The theme of the event, “camaraderie,” reflected the mutual trust and friendship that binds Arabs and Indians.
At the festival, mesmerizing performances by the 16-member Sautul Mamlaka Folk Arts Troupe, led by Fadi Saad Al-Hawsavi, stole the show. The group enthralled audiences with performances of traditional Saudi folk art forms.
Audiences also enjoyed Indian dances such as bharatanatyam as well as Gujarati, Punjabi, Rajasthani and Kashmiri varieties.
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