On this day, the Kingdom commemorates its historical and cultural roots and praises its current regional and international achievements

Saudi Arabia celebrates Foundation Day

photo_camera PHOTO/FILE - The Kingdom commemorates its founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in February 1727

Saudi Arabia is on a celebration day. The Kingdom commemorates its founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in February 1727. On this day, Saudi citizens celebrate their country's long history, remembering its most prominent figures and praising its current development, prosperity and progress. King Salman bin Abdulaziz stressed that this day is an ideal occasion to be proud of the founding of the Saudi state that has consolidated "the foundations of peace and stability", reports Asharq Al-Awsat. "This day is an opportunity to celebrate the history of the state, the harmony of its people, its steadfastness in the face of all challenges and hopes for the future," the monarch said.

Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal order on 27 January 2022 that every 22 February would mark the anniversary of the country's founding. This is the second year it has been celebrated and, due to its significance, both the public and private sectors have a public holiday on this day. Public sector workers will also have tomorrow off.   

On the occasion of Foundation Day, Saudi Arabia highlights its important role at regional and international level in various areas such as economics, politics and even the special field, as the Kingdom announced on 12 February its intention to send the first Saudi astronaut to the International Space Station during the second quarter of 2023.

During this year, Riyadh will also organise and host the Arab League Summit. During 2022, Saudi Arabia hosted several meetings that mapped out the future of its international relations with countries in the region, as well as with other powers such as the United States, China and Russia. These meetings highlight Riyadh's international status and prestige, as well as its efforts to promote security and stability in the region and the world. 

Last December, Saudi Arabia hosted three international summits, the 43rd regular Gulf meeting, the first China-Gulf meeting and the first Arab-Chinese summit, with the participation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

These meetings came months after the Kingdom hosted an Arab-US meeting on 16 July with the participation of US President Joe Biden. A month earlier, Riyadh hosted the fifth joint ministerial meeting of the Gulf-Russia Strategic Dialogue.

These meetings with major world powers are part of Saudi plans to redesign its external ties in the interests of prosperity, development and stability. It also seeks to foster stable, fruitful and balanced relations between these nations and Arab and Gulf countries.

Moreover, all these diplomatic and political achievements point to a promising future within the framework of the Vision 2030 initiative, a project designed by Riyadh to reduce the country's dependence on oil, thus diversifying its economy and development.

Diriyah, the heart of the Saudi State

A number of cultural events will be held in different parts of the country to commemorate the founding of the Kingdom. However, of all the places, Diriyah is the most significant because of its historical past and its role in the creation of Saudi Arabia. In Diriyah, a neighbourhood west of Riyadh, the foundations for the founding of the Saudi state were laid three centuries ago. It was there that Imam Mohammed bin Saud was born and where he created a strong state that expanded its influence over most of the Arabian Peninsula. Even, as Asharq Al-Awsat recalls, the ambitions of Diriyah's rulers extended further east into India, then controlled by the British Empire.  

In the past, the Saudi state had to contend with the Ottoman Empire, the key power in the region at the time and its main rival. The Ottomans saw Diriyah as a strong enemy, so they worked hard to destroy it. The first Saudi state was defeated by foreign forces, but rose again only to be destroyed again by internal strife. Then, almost a century ago, King Abdulaziz succeeded in restoring unity and making the third Saudi state more powerful and stronger than ever

Among the historical figures remembered on this day is Imam Mohammed bin Saud's son, Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohamed bin Saud, considered one of the most important rulers of the Peninsula.  Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Saud is noted for his military prowess and strong state management, which drove regional expansion. Under his rule, the Diriyah army fought against Ottoman troops and peacefully entered the holy city of Mecca in 1803. 

Abdulaziz bin Mohamed bin Saud was succeeded by his son Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed, who further increased the state's influence and carried out reforms, although he did not expand its borders beyond the Peninsula. However, Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed succeeded in uniting the tribes of the Hijaz region in the west of the country, causing concern among the Ottomans, who chose to launch hostile campaigns to defeat the Saudi state. Saud bin Abdulaziz was succeeded by his son Abdullah, who waged seven years of war against the Ottomans. Eventually, the Ottoman Empire was victorious and the first Saudi state disappeared as a result.

After some time, Imam Turki bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Saud succeeded in recapturing Riyadh in 1824 and expelling the Ottoman forces. As a result, he founded the second Saudi state, which came to an end in 1891 with the defeat of Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal in Riyadh. Years later, in 1902, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman reconquered Riyadh and announced the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, laying the foundations for the third and current state.

That these events and developments are recorded today is the result of extensive historical research carried out by the Saudi Historical School, which provides an insight into the Kingdom's historical and cultural roots

This year's Foundation Day comes on the heels of Riyadh's inclusion of Diriyah in its Vision 2030 plan. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the project to boost and develop the historic site where the foundations of today's Kingdom were laid will be part of the state's plans under Vision 2030. This decision confirms bin Salman's plans to protect and promote Saudi national and cultural identity.

The ruins of Diriya is one of the most important tourist destinations in the country. It is also one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom.