Wednesday, February 22, marks Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day, a new annual holiday to commemorate the founding of the first Saudi state in Arabia. The holiday was established with a royal decree issued by King Salman last year through the official Saudi Press Agency. It said the move is meant to commemorate the history of Saudi rule dating back hundreds of years. It is a different event to Saudi National Day, which is marked on September 23.
Saudi Arabia’s new annual holiday commemorates the ascendancy to power of Mohammed bin Saud, who founded the First Saudi State. In February 1727, bin Saud inherited leadership over the central Arabian town of Diriyah, which had been established by his ancestors back in the 15th century. He oversaw the expansion of Diriyah from a city-state to an emirate, conquering territories in central Arabia and uniting them under his family’s rule.
His dynasty became known as the Al Saud, named after his father, Saud bin Mohammed Al Muqrin, who had ruled Diriyah from 1720, the date often cited as the founding of the dynasty. Founding Day commemorates these origins and aims to highlight the important part the Al Saud dynasty has played in the history of Arabia.
Saudi National Day is celebrated annually on September 23. It marks the 1932 decree, issued by King Abdulaziz, which renamed the Kingdom of Najd and the Hejaz as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The unification of the kingdom took place on the 21st of Jumada Al Awwal in 1351 H — which corresponds to September 23, 1932.
Events to show off traditional crafts, culture and heritage are planned across the kingdom in celebration of the occasion. Live music and dance performances are scheduled in cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Festivities are expected to last several days, with students given a long weekend until February 27.