|Saudi Arabia's national flag|
A Very Brief History
|Map of Saudi Arabia before formation - shows split between Hejaz and Nejd|
|Saudi Arabia in its current form|
Saudi National Day as a public holiday
While people in Saudi may have celebrated the anniversary of the country's formation before, it wasn't until King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz came to power in 2005 that it was celebrated as a public holiday.
However, while many private institutions close on both of the Eid holidays after Ramadam and Hajj (which are the other public holidays that exist in Saudi), fewer observe Saudi National Day considering it is only celebrated by Saudi nationals. Although you could argue that the expats and students appreciate the day off as well!
As a note, September 23rd is a Friday this year, which is a part of the Saudi weekend (Thursdays and Fridays). When this is the case, the ensuing Saturday is treated similar to a bank holiday. (Think how Christmas and Boxing Day fell on a weekend in the UK last year causing the Monday and Tuesday afterwards to be bank holidays.)
Celebrating Saudi National Day
Due to the conservatism that exists in the country, you are more likely to see celebrations in the more cosmopolitan places in Saudi, such as Jeddah, which is perhaps the most tolerant and diverse of all of Saudi Arabia's cities.
Here in Jeddah Saudis celebrate by going out; many will visit the Jeddah Corniche, a seaside promenade, where there will be fireworks and a parade. Some families might go out for dinner at one of many restaurants in Jeddah, since eating out is a popular pastime with the lack of entertainment but considerable wealth that exists here in the country. Younger Saudi guys will party out on the streets, painting their faces and cars and in general will enjoy one of the few times that they can let their hair down out in public.
|The Jeddah Corniche|
|Some Saudi youths celebrating in traditional and not-so-traditional garbs|
I've been advised by many Saudis not to go out this evening, and I suspect it's because the celebrations can end up quite rowdy and wild during the night. Moreover, Jeddah's already busy traffic at night can become horrendous throughout the celebrations in the evening due to the huge amount of people wanting to go out, particularly those heading towards the Jeddah Corniche. An otherwise 15-minute journey can take up to 3-4 hours!
|Google.com.sa celebrates Saudi National Day...|
|...but personally I prefer their 2009 design|
Many thanks to my friend for providing me information on this public holiday and sharing some of her experiences with me. I wish you and every Saudi a happy Saudi National Day!
Some more information: