Saudi Arabia celebrated its 89th National Day on 23rd September 2019. In 1902, King Abdulaziz came with an army of only 60 men from his exile in Kuwait, and over the next 18 months unified the six regions of the area which is known today as Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Until then, the regions were governed by different rulers, mostly with a tribal background.
Celebrations are taking place all over the country. Buildings, streets, and even people are decorated in white and green, the colors of the national flag. Schools, government offices and private sector businesses have been given a four-days break, as has become customary in the last few decades. Different from previous years, this year’s announcement came ahead of time to give people the opportunity to arrange for a short break away from home.
Celebrating national day is a recent phenomenon. In the past, religious hardliners took the view that only religious holidays should be celebrated. As a result, many Saudis were unaware of the day Saudi Arabia was unified not less speaking of history. In 2005, the late King Abdullah first allowed the population to celebrate the national day as a public holiday. It started by allowing street celebrations and people expressing their joy in songs. Gradually, it moved to become a one-day break, and slowly the break got longer.
Celebrating the National Day increased with the economic reforms that started in the days of late King Abdullah and continued strongly through the social reform process of the current government.
It cements the feeling of national unity, identity, and pride. Like other Arab populations, Saudis are proud of their nationality. In current times it is this nationalism with the opening of social reforms that are adding to their pride. In the past, Saudi Arabia has been associated with lots of deficits and negatives. Today, with the changes, it is easier for a Saudi to feel like any other citizens of any other country.