Saudi Arabia celebrates this Friday its 92nd National Day, more than 9 decades after the unification of the Third Saudi State by the founding King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud.
The third king of the country, King Faisal bin Abdulaziz, issued a royal decree in Aug. 1965, stipulating that Saudi Arabia’s National Day be celebrated on the first day of al-Mizan at the beginning of the solar Hijri year, which falls on Sept. 23.
But the celebration of the Saudi National Day was known to have taken place on previous times after the unification of the country.
The 1932 Celebration
According to the Kingdom Heritage website of the Saudi Ministry of Tourism, the first celebration of the National Day of Saudi Arabia took place during the reign of King Abdulaziz, at the Abu Hijara Palace in the Taif Governorate, in the west of the country.
The national celebration was held in 1932, on the occasion of the famous royal declaration, which was read by then-Viceroy of Hejaz, Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz, announcing that the Kingdom of Hejaz, Najd and its annexes become the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Disagreement over the location of the first celebration
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Researcher and Writer Hammad Al-Salmi approved the version that says that the first celebration of the National Day took place in the Taif region, but reflected on the exact location of the event, saying: “Directives were issued to the princes of the regions to celebrate the National Day after King Abdulaziz announced the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the year 1352 AH while he was in Riyadh.”
He continued: “The ceremony of the Emirate of Makkah Al-Mukarramah was held under the patronage of Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Deputy King of the Hejaz, at the Emirate’s Palace in Makkah, and the ceremony of the Emirate of Taif was held at the Emirate’s headquarters inside Taif.”
Al-Salmi disapproved the claim that the first celebration of the National Day was held in the Abu Hijara Palace in Taif, referring to a speech by Prince Talal, son of King Abdulaziz.
“When Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz honored me with a visit to the Al-Salmi Cultural Forum and as we accompanied him to the airport on his way back to Riyadh… One of the people claimed that King Abdulaziz celebrated the National Day in Abu Hijara... Prince Talal intervened and said firmly that this was a lie… as King Abdulaziz has never come to these mountains…” he recounted.
First National Holiday
In 2005, an exceptional three-day holiday was approved in Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the 75th National Day. According to various sources, this date marked the first official holiday in the country’s history.