Cultural Extravaganza: Festivals and Celebrations in Riyadh 

Event around Antara pool

Riyadh is a city of mixtures, a city that combines the past with the future, and where old traditions meet new excitements. One does not need to look farther than a calendar to realize than for the citizens of Riyadh, Saudi culture and international events both hold a special place in their lives. 
Naturally, you may have already heard of some of the major religious and cultural holidays and traditions of Saudi Arabia, such as Ramadan, but may not be aware of what each one means. 
With some of these events, you may already have at least a passing familiarity, such as the already mentioned Ramadan. However, if you’re not Muslim, you might not know exactly what Ramadan is. 
Ramadan is the most significant religious celebration of Islam, occurring in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, lasting roughly one calendar month, and has no specific dates. It’s a time of fasting and prayer for Muslims, and culminates with Eid al-Fitr, a night of celebration where the fast is broken with feasts, gifts are exchanged and there are acts of charity and kindness. Foreigners are expected to respect Ramadan, by not openly eating and drinking, disturbing prayers, and exhibiting disrespectful of provocative behavior. During Ramadan, as well as during Hajj (the pilgrimage of every healthy and financially able Muslim to Mecca once a year on the 12th month), foreigners may encounter limited business hours and availability, so that is also something to keep out an eye for.  

Religious Holidays 

Other religious holidays, such as the Islamic New Year, the Mawlid al-Nabi (the celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday) or significant days marking milestones within Ramadan and Hajj (such as Eid al-Adha at the end of Hajj and Lailat al-Qadr near the end of Ramadan) are also moving holidays based on lunar calendar, with no specific assigned date. In general, one thing to keep in mind is that religious holidays in Saudi Arabia are focused on prayer and reflection, and foreigners are expected to be respectful, while remaining welcome to enjoy the festivities of these holidays. You are, of course, also allowed to observe your own holidays and customs in the privacy of your homes or expat compounds or designated and authorized places of worship of your faith. 
But religiousness is only one part of the Saudi culture. Like we said before, Saudi Arabia introduces modernity to go along with tradition, as with the National Saudi Day, a day of secular celebration, or the annual Edge of the World art festival. But Saudi Arabia is always looking towards the contemporary modern and the future. 
And really, if motorsports and electronic music are not modern, what is?  

Festivals and Events for you and the family  

Riyadh is home to the recurring Soundstorm festival, headlined by some of the biggest names in contemporary electronic and pop music. But that’s far from the only music event of Riyadh, and you will experience some of the largest parties and events right here. Or, if you prefer, you can spectate in person one of the e-sports tournaments taking place in Saudi Arabia, or attend one of the high-profile international and local film festivals in Saudi Arabia such as the Red Sea International Film Festival, or one of the many high fashion events happening annually. 

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The Need for Speed 

But if speed is more like you, then you will definitely find your match with the Formula 1 and Modern Formula E races. The recently introduced Jeddah track boasts three adrenaline-pumping straights where these extraordinary cars can unleash their true potential, over 25 corners and chicanes, and thrills aplenty. It has, after all, been recognized as the fastest (and exciting!) street circuit ever seen not only in Formula 1, but motorsports in general. 
As for the future, well, Riyadh is a very strong candidate to host the World Fair of 2030, in which the whole planet gets to not only experience, but also to showcase our collective scientific, cultural, technological, and artistic strides. Don’t miss your chance to get to experience Saudi Arabia early! 

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