Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Monday postponed its biggest national cultural festival, an event developed by the late King Abdullah, after his death last week.
The Janadriyah festival was to be held from February 4 to February 22, with a special guest pavilion from Germany.
“A royal directive was issued to postpone the National Festival for Heritage and Culture to… next year,” the official Saudi Press Agency said.
It said the postponement was “due to the death of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud”, who was replaced by his half-brother Salman.
In a conservative Islamic nation where entertainment options are limited – there are no cinemas – the festival is a major annual event which takes place on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.
It features camel races, cultural performances, and pavilions showing folklore, handicrafts, and food from around the kingdom.
Each year also features a guest country. Germany announced in early January that it would be this year’s guest, and would send cultural troupes as well as companies to exhibit.
Late King Abdullah developed the festival before he acceded to the throne in 2005.
It started to provide “a secular counterweight to the crushing domination that religion had come to exercise over Saudi culture,” Robert Lacey wrote in his book “Inside the Kingdom.”