Founders, fireworks and fun – here’s how the holiday started and how it’s going.
Saudi National Day is one of the biggest celebrations in the kingdom. Known as Al Yom Al Watany in Arabic, the day falls on 23 September each year. Festivities take place across the country with special events including parades, concerts and fireworks.
If there’s one colour that dominates the celebrations, it’s green. Whether it’s on buildings, balloons or baked goods, the country is decked in green in honour of the flag. So, if you want to get your Saudi patriotism on, here’s what you need to know.
When is Saudi National Day?
Saudi National Day is always on a fixed date and is set according to the solar, Gregorian calendar. The Hijri calendar is different to the Gregorian calendar by about 11 days, which is why the date of other major public holidays move each year. Important religious holidays include Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha, and the dates for these are set according to the Hijri, the Islamic lunar calendar.
When did Saudi National Day start?
Saudi National Day is an important day that marks the birth of modern-day Saudi Arabia. In 1932, the unification of the Kingdom of Najd and Hijaz took place. The nation became known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after the family of King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, of the House of Saud.
Saudi National Day was made a public holiday by King Abdullah in 2005, which meant that schools and offices could formally close. The day was first officially celebrated in 2015, and since then celebrations have grown in scale.
What happens on Saudi National Day?
Today, Saudi National Day is a public holiday that locals mark with great pride. Cities are lit up in green, flags are flown outside windows and national songs fill the air. Lookout for shopping malls, restaurants and cafes, which offer special events and promotions. Plus, one-off cultural events, from concerts to exhibitions.
In recent years, there have been spectacular public events for the whole family. Celebrations always go off with a bang, as firework displays can be found across the kingdom. It’s traditionally a time for the community to come together, and show their love of Saudi Arabia. For example, Zadk Academy’s cooking school used 15,000 cupcakes to create the Saudi flag.
In 2021, The Ministry of Interior put on a military parade, which included Saudi women officers for the first time. The parade also featured marching bands, horses and old-school cars used by the Saudi royal family. Plus, the Saudi Hawks, a fleet of the Royal Saudi Air Force, painted towns green and white with an impressive air display.
Expats are encouraged to take part in Saudi National Day festivities – so don’t be shy. If you work in an office or live in a compound, there are bound to be special events with traditional food, music or even sword dancing.
What are the Saudi National Day slogan and logo?
As celebrations have grown, a Saudi National Day slogan and logo have been introduced. The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Authority for Entertainment Turki Al-Sheikh announced the slogan for the 93rd Saudi National Day: “We dream and we achieve”.
This year’s theme ties in with Saudi Vision 2030 and how the Kingdom is filled with ambition. The new logo includes a man and a woman in the middle, and symbols of different projects across the country. The images include AlUla, AlSoudah, Astronaut Program, Cube Project, Diriyah, King Salman Park, The Line, Sindalah, Shuaiba Solar Power Plant and Sports Boulevard.
GO: Visit https://nd.gea.gov.sa for more information.