UK & World News

  • 19 February 2014, 14:23

Prince Charles Joins Sword Dance In Saudi

Prince Charles last night entered into the spirit of things at the start of a three-day tour of the Middle East.

Wearing a traditional Saudi full-length outfit known as a thobe, the heir to the throne joined members of the Saudi royal family in a ceremony celebrating the country's culture.

Prince Charles played his part in an ardah - or sword dance - at a stadium in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

As well as a long-flowing robe, the 65-year-old prince wore a chequered headdress and ceremonial dagger during the dance which featured hundreds of Saudi Arabian men and boys in formation holding swords.

It was part of the annual 17-day Janadriyah Festival.

The Prince's host was Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, second deputy prime minister and the former head of the Saudi intelligence service.

Charles' tour of the Middle East - at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - will also include a visit to Gulf state Qatar.

The trip comes less than a year after he last visited the countries and is his 10th official trip to Saudi Arabia.

But the Prince of Wales' visit has led to calls from human rights groups such as Amnesty International for him to raise concerns in meetings with key officials about human rights abuses.

Saudi Arabia has been criticised for the repression of women, the restriction of freedom of speech and the lack of a fair and open legal system.

Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is also being heavily scrutinised for its human rights record.

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