National Day 2017 and 2018
Every September 23rd, Saudi Arabia celebrates Saudi National Day to commemorate the unification of the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
|2017||23 Sep||Sat||National Day|
|2018||23 Sep||Sun||National Day|
Being 90 percent Arab and mostly Sunni Muslim, it was not unnatural for the present nation to form a unified whole, but it took, in fact, a long time for this event to occur.
In ancient times, even before Islam became the predominant religion of the region, the Arabian Peninsula was populated by nomadic Arab tribes, which often were at war with one another. In the early 7th Century A.D., Muhammad began spreading the new religion called “Islam” in the area around Mecca, and it soon spread all over the Arab world and beyond. This led to a more or less united Arab-Muslim empire for a time, but this situation soon deteriorated after A.D. 632, when Muhammad died.
In the 16th Century, Arabia was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, along with most of the rest of the Middle East. There was long unrest against Ottoman rule, but it was only after the Ottoman Empire was destroyed during World War I that the modern state of Saudi Arabia began to develop.
However, in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Ottomans, the four regions of modern Saudi Arabia, Hejaz, Najd, Al Ahsa, and Asir, were divided. In 1921, Ibn Saud became the new Sultan of Najd in central Arabia. He engaged in various conquests of weaker Arab neighbours, gradually uniting the region, finally conquering Hejaz in western Arabia in 1925. He then became Sultan of two separate states, Hejaz and Nejd. After five years of ruling both nations separately, he finally united them into the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” on September 23rd, 1932. Since that time, there have been seven kings of Saudi Arabia, and the date of the unification is now a national holiday.
On Saudi National Day, celebrations break out all over the kingdom. There are Saudi flags flying high over the roadways, on public and private buildings, and on automobiles. Photos and posters of the present king are also seen everywhere on display. There are fireworks shows, kids’ programs, ethnic song and dance festivals, sports events, poetry recitations, and folklore performances. There are activities for all ages, so the whole family will find plenty to keep them entertained.
Some things to do in Saudi Arabia during Saudi National Day include:
- Attend National Day programs put on in major malls like the Hayat and Panorama Mall in Riyadh. These events are largely geared toward children. There are often drawing, essay writing, and poetry composition contests. There may also be famous mascots that show up to paint kids’ faces, pose with kids for photos, and give out presents.
- Attend any of the multiple Saudi National Day official celebration sites throughout Riyadh. Thousands of Saudi flags are given out to visitors, and you can watch on a flat screen TV if the crowds are too large to get close to the action. There will be poetry recitation, sports stars speaking, comedy acts, and a plethora of entertainment opportunities. Saudi culture will also be put on display at these events.
- Take the kids to the Al Hokair Amusement Park in Riyadh. There is a large, colourful castle that lights up at night, with towers, flags, and all. There are roller coasters, merry go rounds, bumper cars and bumper boats, children’s play areas, and much more.
Saudi National Day is a great time to visit Saudi Arabia and learn of its history and culture, and as kids’ events are especially common, it is a good time for a family vacation.