By Irfan Mohammed
AS the 11th edition of the much-awaited flower and garden festival got under way in Yanbu on Tuesday, thousands of people, including Saudis and expatriates, converged on the industrial city to get a view of the spectacle while enjoying the city’s pleasant spring weather. Many others got busy making their weekend travel plans to Yanbu to enjoy the bounty of the season.
Prince Saud Bin Abdallah Bin Thunayan, chairman of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, inaugurated the festival in the presence of Alaa Bin Abdullah Nassif, the CEO of Royal Commission for Yanbu.
The Flower and Garden Festival is an annual event that takes place in Yanbu and it aims to beautify and decorate the industrial city, in addition to providing recreational activities for the residents and visitors.
The festival will last for 26 days and is expected to draw huge crowds of visitors from Yanbu as well as the neighboring cities of Madinah, Jeddah and Tabuk and other parts of the Kingdom.
Students from more than 300 schools in Yanbu, Yanbu Al-Bahr, Madinah and Jeddah also participate.
The floral design of “Vision 2030,” the title of the pragmatic reform program initiated by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, was the main attraction, according to visitors who shared their experience.
“This year the event has beaten its own Guinness World Record for the largest flower carpet,” Saleh Abdullah Zahrani, chairman of the festival committee, told Saudi Gazette.
During the opening of the event, Guinness World Records, the global authority on record-breaking, has confirmed that the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu has broken the Guinness World Record for the “largest carpet of flowers”.
The Royal Commission reclaimed the title for commissioning the creation of the carpet comprising approximately 1.8 million flowers, featuring flowers of different species, size and color, including petunias and marigold. The total area of the flower carpet is 16,134 sq. meters.
Commenting on the record, Talal Omar, Guinness World Record’s Country Manager for MENA, said: “We are very excited that the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu reclaimed its 2014 title this year. Having fun, delighting and uniting people is at the heart of our brand and we are proud that Guinness World Records was able to yet again provide a platform to recognize and share amazing moments.”
The record was held by Mexico last year and Ukraine the year before.
Zahrani said, “We want to send a creative and progressive message from the festival, in addition to offering a spectacular feast for the eyes, fun and entertainment.”
He said this year’s festival has put extra emphasis on environment-friendly trips for waste management by encouraging children to participate.
“We encourage children to plant their own flowers and take them home. All things related to gardening are available at the show while many Saudis and expatriates have congratulated the Royal Commission for organizing the festival,” Zahrani said.
“The butterfly garden is one of the major attractions for children this year. We have over 12,000 butterflies of 300 varieties,” Zahrani said.
“By using waste material we have built a three-story building, which will be visited by officials from the Ministry of Housing,” he said while elaborating on the festival’s efforts to save the environment.
According to Zahrani, some 200 reputable companies from the Kingdom and abroad are showcasing their gardening and landscaping skills and techniques at the festival.
Hotels in the city have the highest occupancy rate during the festival period, said sources in the hotel industry.
“The annual flower festival adds glory to the Red Sea coastal city; not only flowers but the city and its people too bloom during the festival,” said Indian expatriate Sebastian, who works for a taxi company. He said businesses in Yanbu thrive for the entire period of the festival.
“Every year, I receive dozens of visitors from Riyadh, Taif, Jeddah and other places who exclusively come for the flower festival,” said Mohammed Amjudullah Baig, a professor at RYC Industrial College.
He said as residents of the coastal city they get busy hosting guests during the festival, which is enjoyed by one and all, whether Saudi or expatriate.
Echoing the same view, U. Kiran Kumar, an engineer, said, “Every year I receive 90 to 100 friends from different parts from the Kingdom who come to the festival.”
He said the Vision 2030 floral design is quite attractive.
He said the symbol of heart is attracting many youths. Kiran thanked the event organizers for allowing visitors to walk through the middle of flower carpet to take photos.