Saudi Arabia recently announced that it will be celebrating Flag Day on March 11. The event is set to become an annual reoccurrence in an effort to celebrate the emblem and give Saudis a new outlet for showcasing their national pride. This particular date has historical and cultural significance for the Kingdom as it marks the day when the flag was first authorized as the representation of Saudi Arabia.
In a statement announcing the annual Flag Day, the state-run Saudi Press Agency described its importance in the following words: “The value of the national flag extends throughout the history of the Saudi state, since its founding in 1139 AH – 1727 AD, which bears the Islamic declaration of faith in the middle, symbolizing the message of peace, and the religion of Islam, on which this blessed state was based.”
In celebration of the first-ever Saudi Arabian Flag Day, read on for some important facts to know about this symbol of national pride.
1. Historical inspiration
The current flag of the Kingdom is inspired by the states of Najd and Hejaz – the two ancestral states that were unified under King Abdulaziz Al Saud on September 23, 1932, to create the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, the flag of Hejaz also had patterns similar to the flags of other countries such as Sudan and Palestine.
2. The flag through the years
The current version of the Saudi flag has only been in use since 1973. Even before the Kingdom was established, the Al Saud family had used the shahada on their flags. In 1921 the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz Abdulrahman Al Saud, added a sword below the inscription. Before 1973 – when the flag was standardized – different variants of the flag existed such as one with two swords or one that had a curvier blade.
3. The meaning behind it
The shahada itself holds great meaning as it is the declaration of faith in Islam and Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation. However, other elements of the flag also have a purpose behind them. The green of the flag is a representative color for Muslims around the world as it was the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) favorite color while the sword serves as a reminder of the strictness employed by the Al Saud family on matters of justice.
3. Matters of design
The inscription on the flag is written in the thuluth script, a script variety of Islamic calligraphy once used by the renowned Ottoman calligrapher Mustafa Râkim. Other notable design elements of the flag include the fact that it is manufactured in a way that the shahada reads correctly on both sides. The sword always points toward the left as a nod to the direction of the script.
4. Respecting the shahada
Considering that the shahada is holy, respecting the flag is of grave importance to Saudi Arabia. It is illegal to lower the flag to half-mast, even as a sign of mourning, as that would be considered blasphemous. Saudi legislation also forbids anyone from hoisting the flag in a vertical position or rolling it halfway. The Ministry of Commerce has also banned both individuals and businesses from using the flag in any commercial promotions.