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Annual Jerash Festival Of Culture And Arts

The Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts opened last week in Jordan to draw tourists to the kingdom, celebrate local communities and highlight Jordan's stability.This year, the festival's programme includes theatre, folk and dance performances from ballet and flamenco ensembles as well as poetry readings and seminars. The 10-day festival also includes exhibitions of traditional local crafts and goods. Through the festival, Jordan seeks to attract tourists and visitors to the kingdom, said festival executive director Mohammed Abu Sumaqa. "This helps support the tourism sector, which has been affected over the past two years as a result of instability in some neighbouring countries," he said. Holding the festival at this time is "a message to the world that Jordan is an oasis of stability and security" and presents the kingdom as an attractive summer tourist destination, he added. Arab stars taking part in this year's festival include Najwa Karam, Elissa, Wael Kfoury, Mohammed Assaf and Shatha Hassoun in addition to a variety of local artists. Countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Libya and India also will take part in the festivities. "The festival helps stimulate the economy and support local communities and there is a large turnout from all countries, particularly Arabian Gulf countries," Abu Sumaqa said. The first two days of the festival drew more than 30,000 Jordanian and Arab visitors, he said. "Every year, I spend my summer vacation in Jordan with family and friends and I make sure to attend Jerash Festival whenever there is a famous artist performing," said Saeed al-Balwi who was visiting from Saudi Arabia. Al-Balwi said he attended Elissa's concert and plans to see Wael Kfoury perform on June 27th. "In light of the instability in some countries in the region, there are no other alternatives and this year's Jerash Festival is an opportunity for tourists to enjoy themselves and spend good times in Jordan," he said. The festival revives the ancient city, said Jameel al-Atoum, a teacher from Jerash. "The festival is an opportunity to bring children during their leisure time, especially since it coincides with the start of the summer holidays," said al-Atoum, who is a father of four. Entry into the ancient city during the festival period is free and there are many activities for children and families, he said. The Jerash Festival, first held in 1981, has since become a global event to showcase artistic, literary and cultural activities.

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