At Jenadriyah today, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, on behalf of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, attended the inaugural ceremony of the 18th National Festival for Heritage and Culture organized annually by the National Guard. The ceremony was attended by King of Bahrain Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who, in an arrival statement, referred to the Festival as a remarkable, cultural and hereditary event that attracts intellectuals from all over the world as well as from Arab and Muslim countries. Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz had earlier commented that the theme of this year's festival is 'This is Islam', an important issue at a time when the Muslim world is passing through critical circumstances and Islam has become a target for vicious campaigns. It is hoped, he said, that discussions at the festival will project the proper principles of Islam and refute false allegations.
Marking the opening of the festival, Crown Prince Abdullah, on behalf of King Fahd, announced the awarding of the King Abdulaziz Medal, First Class, to Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Al Saud, Sa'ad bin Abdullah Almi'jel, and Muhammand bin Salih bin Sultan as the three most distinguished Saudi businessmen for the year 2002. Minister of Commerce Osama Faqih, in his address, pointed out that the Saudi private sector's contribution to the national economy amounts to over 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Also announced was the selection of author Ahmed bin Ali Al-Mubarak as the Cultural Personality of the 18th Festival.