The (NEW) Saudi National Foundation Day Explained

My family and I were in Saudi Arabia for the very first Saudi National Foundation Day (يوم التأسيس)  held on Feb 22nd, 2022 or 21 of Rajab, 1443. For us and millions of other residents, it meant a lovely week off work. 

This new national holiday (Tuesday) was purposefully joined with two school days’ holiday (Wednesday and Thursday) and the long weekend of Friday and Saturday

So, everyone welcomed this long week’s break.

Saudis Dressed In Traditional Costumes Celebrating Saudi Founding / Foundation Day Feb 22nd in Norther Town of Ha’il – Courtesy
The Saudi Foundation Day Official Logo Depicts A Man With A Flag (Center), 4 Date Trees, 4 Horses, 4 Falcons & 4 Saudi Finjel Coffee Cups. A Modern Day Design Inspired By Old Manuscripts

However, I noticed that a lot of people do not yet know what Foundation Day (also affectionately known as the Founding or Foundling Day) is all about nor even how to celebrate it. 

The aim of this article is to explain in simple terms what the day means, how it is different from Saudi National Day of the 23rd Sep, and the ways in which people are celebrating it in KSA.

So, What Exactly Is The Saudi Foundation Day or (يوم التأسيس) 

It is a national day of rest to celebrate and raise pride in the hearts of all Saudi citizens for the current royal/political Saudi state that began with the 1st in Diriyah 1727-1818 AD under Muhammad bin Saud, then the 2nd in 1824-1891, Turki Al Saud followed by a 3rd in 1902-1932, King Abdul Aziz.

The Saud Foundation Day & Saudi National Day – Are They The Same?

A number of people commented that there is little if any difference between Saudi Foundation Day and Saudi National Day.  

In fact, there are. Here are the main differences. 

The Saudi Foundation Day -Feb 22nd

Saudi Foundation Day Opens in a new to remind and connect citizens to the history, heritage, and culture of the current Saudi state from its early beginnings in 1717 through its development to the present day. 

It also aims to unite the Saudi people by way of reminders through the many cultural, traditional, scientific events and entertainments on offer.

The day denotes DiriyahOpens in a new tab. as the original capital and plots the establishment of the modern Saudi state through a series of monumental historical events that began in old Diriyah, through to the First, Second and Third Saudi states until Saudi Unification in 1932. 

What Are The Saudi States? 

The First State

The Saudi Foundation Day fondly evokes the time of Imam Muhammad bin SaudOpens in a new tab. who established the very first Saudi state in the mud/earth buildings of Diriyah (Riyadh).

His governance lasted 90 years from 1717 to 1818. Notable achievements for the period were its successful financial, educational, political systems, and development of the art of Arabic calligraphy. 

The Second State  

The day also recalls the second Saudi state led by Imam Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud that lasted 63 years from 1824 to 1891. Turki and his forces fought for seven years to wrest control of occupied Riyadh. 

His major achievement was to bring warring tribes together in large areas of the kingdom. It was also to continue the work of the first state on education, political and social justice. 

The Third State

The Saudi Foundation Day also commemorates the fact of the retaking of Diriyah in 1902, by the young Emir Abdul Aziz Bin SaudOpens in a new tab. (aged 27) and forty of his men who ousted the then occupying Rashidi forces killing Ajlan, its governor, and the later formation of the third Saudi state in 1902 to 1932. 

In the third state, Amir/King Abdul Aziz’s achievements were to destroy Rashidi’s dominance over Arabia, to unite warring tribes, develop agriculture, the oil industry, enact kind acts of charity, and to make ONE nation out of the vast regions of Arabia. 

The Saudi National Day -Sep 23rd 

By contrast, on the annual Saudi National DayOpens in a new tab. also called the National Day for the Unification of the Kingdom, citizens remember and celebrate the thirty years that King Abdul Aziz and his men waged an armed struggle to subjugate and unite the 10/11 disparate regions of Saudi Arabia.

The major territories King Abdul Aziz conquered were: 

Important Regions Conquered And Unified Date
Southern Najd 1902
Al- Washam 1902
Al- Ahsa1913

The struggle began in 1092 and ended in 1932 with the subjugation of rival tribes and the final annexation of the old Hijaz and Nejd in 1925. 

The two holy sites of Mecca and Madinah were also taken in 1925. 

In a royal decree, the Saudi unification was formally announced on September 23rd, 1932.

To click here to read more in-depth information on Saudi National Day in Inside Saudi’s- Saudi National Day-The Celebration And The HistoryOpens in a new tab.

How Is Saudi Foundation Day Celebrated? 

The Saudi kingdom hosts many public events that include musical and traditional dance concerts, nighttime fireworks, light drone displays, remembrance performances with thousands of citizens and expats in attendance. 

The first-ever Saudi Foundation Day in 2022 was offered under the slogan of  ‘The Day We Began’ with lectures, stories, poetry, and performances that hearkened back to the days of Imam Muhammad bin Saud and his conquest of Diriyah on 22nd Feb 1717.

Foundation Day Operettas

Mini concerts and other events were held in 14 Saudi regions that featured cultural dance performances and foundation day operettas. 

Cities, where performances were held, include Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Taif, Madinah, Eastern, Khobar, Dammam, Abha, Jizan, and other Saudi regions.  

Famous singers appeared at the Mohammed Abdo Arena in Riyadh. They included singing performances by Muhammad Abdo, Rashid Al Majed, Rashid Al Fares, Majed Al Muhandis and Dalia Mubarak. 

Fireworks and Drone Shows

10 spectacular displays consisting of 900,000 fireworks and 300 drone light displays illuminated the Riyadh night sky on Thursday 24th Feb. 

National Museum Conferences (Majlis) 

There were workshops, lectures, and discussions about Saudi cultural history in relation to the first Saudi state.

Foundation Day Story Telling

At the Namar Valley, remembrance stories were shared detailing events social/political events of the last three hundred years comprising the three Saudi states.  

In the valley, 3,500 performers dressed in traditional clothing and presented reenactments of events from their 300-year history. 

Traditional Markets, Clothes, and Fashion Walks

King Fahd ParkOpens in a new tab. Dammam hosted a traditional Qasariyah bazaar-type marketplace. Shops showed old-style dresses, robes, and headgear. It also included a photographic exhibition of life in the past and narrators sharing stories of years gone by. 

Other exhibitions included Saudi coffee making, firework displays, and holographic entertainment. 

Click this Facebook video link to experience the chats, joy, and delight of the Saudi peopleOpens in a new tab. as they parade around the Riyadh streets donning in traditional ancient costumes.

Foreign Nationals Enjoying Camel Rides Ad Diriyah On Founding Day-Courtesy Seve Reno Seon

References and Useful Links

Saudi Government Founding DayOpens in a new tab.-Founding Day

Saudi Government Public Relations Tweet On The Foundation Day– Twitter

Saudi Founding Day In the Arabic Language – Wikipedia

Saudi National Day In the Arabic Language– Wikipedia

Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud– Wikipedia

Al Bilad News-Al Bilad

Saudi Founding Day Celebrations– Al Arabiya

Historical DiriyahOpens in a new tab.– Wikipedia

Muhammad bin Saud Al MuqrinOpens in a new tab.-Wikipedia

Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud-Wikipedia

Salam Allekum! Hi there! Thanks for reading. Contact the Editor Mohammed Francis directly at with any questions or queries.

Mohammed Francis

I am a UK national, a college teacher, father of 3, writer and blogger.

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