What is Saudi Founding Day and how to celebrate?

Founders, fireworks and fun – here’s how the holiday started and how it’s going.

Saudi Founding Day is one of the most important celebrations in the kingdom. The day falls on 22 February each year. Festivities take place across the country with special events including concerts, exhibitions and fireworks.

The roots of the country date back to the fifth century, when the Banu Hanifah tribe settled in the Arabian Peninsula. Over the centuries, the kingdom of Al Yamama was created, and Prince Mani’ ibn Rabi’a al-Muraydi established Diriyah.

Saudi Founding Day marks when the first Saudi state was founded by Imam Muhammad bin Saudi in Diriyah in 1727. Imam was born in Diriyah, and oversaw the expansion of the state. Located approximately 14 minutes north of Riyadh, Diriyah is the original capital of Saudi Arabia, as it was once the seat of power for the Al Saud family.

The public holiday encourages Saudis (as well as expats) to remember the establishment of the state and its leaders. So, if you want to get your patriotism on, here’s what you need to know.

When did Saudi Founding Day start? 

Saudi Founding Day is the little sister festival to Saudi National Day, which takes place on 23 September. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud declared Saudi Founding Day a public holiday in 2021, and it now takes place each year. Everyone working in the public and private sectors in the kingdom will have a holiday, and schools will be closed for the day. 

What happens on Saudi Founding Day? 

Today, locals mark the day with great pride. Look out for shopping malls, restaurants and cafes, which offer special events and promotions. Plus, one-off cultural events, from concerts to exhibitions.

At the first Saudi Founding Day celebration, there were spectacular public events for the whole family. Celebrations went off with a bang, with firework displays and drone shows. Special events ranged from an Asala and Ramy Jamal concert to a majlis at the National Museum of Saudi Arabia.

Happy Founding Day.

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