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A peep into diverse manifestations of National Day festivities during 56 years
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 22 - 09 - 2021

RIYADH — Diversity has been the hallmark in the manifestations of the Kingdom's celebrations of the National Day ever since it was officially endorsed by King Faisal in 1965.
It was also the incredible story of the breathtaking evolution in the characteristic features of the celebrations as they moved from simply delivering speeches and limited celebrations to one of the largest occasions of festivities being celebrated by all people within the Kingdom as well as Saudi citizens all over the world.
The day has been transformed into the peak occasion of celebrations with full of patriotic fervor and pride over the unity of the nation as well as its robust growth in all spheres of life.
In the first years after its approval by King Faisal, the celebrations focused mainly on official speeches from the monarch that enhanced bonds of cohesion and patriotic fervor.
The king also received greetings from officials and citizens, and these were followed by various celebrations later, but without much momentum. During the last few years, the celebrations of the National Day has gained momentum and the events continued for several days in various regions. This was more evident especially after the establishment of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA).
Before the adoption of the official celebration of the National Day in 1965, Saudis celebrated it as the "Royal Seating Day," which was celebrated first on the occasion of the pledge of allegiance to King Abdul Aziz, as the founder and first king of Saudi Arabia.
This celebration took place on Jan. 8, 1930 and then the anniversary celebration changed to Nov. 12 after King Saud took over the reins of power to succeed his father, but the manifestations of the celebrations were within a limited scope.
Despite the adoption of the National Day, the celebrations were limited without much momentum, as it was limited to official speeches from kings and receiving greetings from emirs of provinces, state officials and members of the diplomatic corps, in addition to organizing popular celebrations whose attendance is limited to men only.
The characteristic features of the celebration of the National Day have changed tremendously since 2005 when King Abdullah issued a royal decree that starting from the 75th Saudi National Day, it will become an official state holiday, and thus giving citizens the greatest opportunity to celebrate the event in the streets.
After it became a public holiday, the celebrations of the occasion expanded significantly with massive participation of the public. All regions organized celebrations attended by princes, senior officials and citizens. A wide variety of events and cultural fiesta and performances of folk arts and the traditional Saudi sword dance Ardha featured these celebrations that reinforced the national cohesion and highlighted remarkable achievements. The government departments and educational institutions are organizing National Day events on the working day following the holiday.
Apart from the massive participation of the citizens and expatriates in the celebrations in an air of festivity, the manifestations of the celebrations were reflected in the decorations and illuminations of public squares, streets, offices and buildings as well as cars along with hoisting of green national flags.
In the recent years, there has been an enhanced momentum in the activities and programs as part of the celebrations of the National Day. During the year 2018, the Ministry of Media, represented by the Center for Government Communications, launched the identity and slogan titled "For glory and supremacy."
This was for the first time an official identity and slogan was formulated for the National Day. Since that year, an official identity and slogan were chosen for the celebrations of the National Day for every year.
The National Day celebrations received a shot in the arm with the taking up the task of its overall supervision by the General Entertainment Authority for the 89th celebrations of which the motto was "Mettle to the top" in 2019. The weeklong celebrations featured national and global events and musical concerts with the participation of international stars, apart from holding dazzling fireworks.
The celebrations during the recent years featured the participation of women since the 87th National Day onwards. The GEA organized the activities titled "National Cohesion" at King Fahd International Stadium where a large number of women participated during the year 2017. In the successive years, there has been a tremendous increase in the participation of women not only as attendees but also as organizers and planners of events.
It is noteworthy that three Hijri years did not happen to witness the National Day because of the difference in the number of days between the Gregorian and Hijri years that range between 10 and 12 days each year. The years were 1371, 1405 and 1438 and this means that Sept. 23 passes without covering the Hijri year after a gap of 34 years.

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