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Celebrating Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day

Event Date: 22/02/2022

On the occasion of Founding Day, the Chairman, Trustees and members of the Saudi British Society send greetings to citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the occasion of Founding Day on Tuesday February 22.

A royal order was issued January 27, 2022 declaring February 22 an annual official holiday in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “to mark the commemoration of the founding of the Saudi state under the name ‘Founding Day’”. The order notes that “the middle of the year 1139H, corresponding to the month of February of the year 1727, signals the commencement of the reign of Imam Mohammad bin Saud, marking his founding of the First Saudi State.”

This first observance of Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day commemorates the accession of Imam Mohammed, the Emir of Diriyah and the founder of the First Saudi State, in 1727. Diriyah, a UNESCO heritage site on the western outskirts of Riyadh, was transformed by Imam Mohammed from a small emirate on Wadi Hanifah into a regional powerhouse uniting the Arabian Peninsula.

According to the chapter on the emergence of the Saudi State, 1700 to 1932 in A Land Transformed: The Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco (Saudi Aramco 2007) in 1744 an ardent and eloquent preacher Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulwahab arrived in Diriyah and met with Emir Mohammed bin Saud.

“This exchange ushered in a new era in the history of Arabia. The two men—one an astute chieftain and the other an idealistic reformer bent on bringing the Islamic community back to the purity of its origins—formed an immediate warm regard for one another. The pact agreed upon that day inspired the rapid rise of the First Saudi State (1744–1818), propelling Najd and the House of Sa‘ud into prominence for the first time in Arabian affairs.”

Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his successors brought peace and prosperity to the region. After the destruction of Diriyah in 1818 by invading Ottoman forces, Riyadh became the capital in 1824. From 1891 the dynasty of Al Rasheed took control and in January 1902 Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman bin Faisal al Saud retook the city paving the way for the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz in 1932.

Founding Day on 22 February becomes one of two annual official public holidays set on the solar calendar. The other is National Day marked on 23 September and announced in 2005 by King Abdullah to commemorate the decree of 1932 by King Abdulaziz renaming of the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The two other longstanding holiday periods celebrated follow the lunar calendar and mark the Islamic festivals of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.

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