Foundation Day in Saudi Arabia in 2023

Foundation Day in Saudi Arabia in 2023
Mada'in Saleh, Al Ula, Saudi Arabia. Image by Leo Morgan , via 123RF

  How long until Foundation Day?
Foundation Day
  Dates of Foundation Day in Saudi Arabia
2024 Saudi Arabia Thu, Feb 22 National Holiday
2023 Saudi Arabia Wed, Feb 22 National Holiday
2022 Saudi Arabia Tue, Feb 22 National Holiday
  Summary

From 2022, this holiday will mark the foundation of the first Saudi state in 1727 by Imam Mohammed ibn Saud.

When is Foundation Day?

Foundation Day is an official public holiday in Saudi Arabia on February 22nd each year.

The holiday was created in 2022 to commemorate the foundation of the first Saudi state named Diriyah, by Imam Mohammad Bin Saud. Although he rose to power in 1727, the establishment of the first Saudi state took place in 1977.

In 1727, through an alliance with religious scholar Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab, the emirate of Diriyah was born as the first amongst three Saudi states. It was the determination of Imam Mohammed in 1727 to transform the city-state into a nation-state, bringing peace and unity to the wider Arabian Peninsula, that two centuries later culminated in the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, had issued a royal decree which approved February 22nd of each year as an official holiday, to celebrate the founding of the Saudi state, under the name of “Foundation Day”.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Ing. Ahmed Al-Rajhi, confirmed that the royal order for foundation day to be an official holiday is for both the public and private sectors.

History of Foundation Day

In 1446, Manaa' Al-Muraide, leader of the Marada clan of the Al-Duru tribe of the Banu Hanifah, led his people inland from their home near Qatif on the Gulf Coast at the invitation of his cousin, Ibn Dir, the ruler of Hajr — modern-day Riyadh.

Wadi Hanifah, where they settled and where the city of Diriyah would later rise, was named after the Banu Hanifah.

However, its fall in 1818 led to the modern Kingdom as we know it today amid the re-establishment of the state with a new capital, known as Riyadh. Sifting between dynasties and wars, 1932 oversaw the complete reign of King Abdulaziz, who established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its entirety.

The significance of the year 1727 in the story of Saudi Arabia has become ever more apparent in the light of extensive research carried out by historians and archaeologists.

In 2010, such work led to the At-Turaif district of Diriyah, the birthplace of the nation, being inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a site of “outstanding universal value.”

Founding Day is not intended to replace Saudi National Day (Sept. 23), which celebrates the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, but rather to recognize the beginning of the Saudi state’s history with a new event that celebrates the deep historical roots of the Kingdom.

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