National Day Celebrations In Riyadh

The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia celebrated its 82nd “birthday” or National Day on Sunday the 23rd of September 2012. As usual, the streets were full of Saudis celebrating the National Day. In addition to everyone having Sunday off, King Abdullah had given an extra day off for government employees meaning many people got to enjoy a four-day weekend in Saudi Arabia.

All the main streets and roads were lined with Saudi flags. There must be literally tens of thousands of them. I wonder where they store them afterwards?

This year people had already began celebrating on Saturday and the streets flooded with cars flying Saudi flags and people hanging out of them. Tahlia street was fully packed with cars and young men dressed in the most creative outfits. Radio stations were playing patriotic songs and songs praising King Abdullah. Everything seemed to have turned green, including the Faisaliyah and Kingdom towers.

We went out on both evenings to see the celebrations. According to Arab News article there would be celebrations in Kindy plaza at the Diplomatic Quarters where thousands of Saudi flags would be distributed and there would be a special program there. We live nearby and went to check it out, there was nothing there to our disappointment! Strangely the article also said malls such as Panorama and Hayat would have programs for kids, but in reality the malls remained closed on Sunday. I wonder how many people went all the way to these locations only to find out there was nothing there.

Read on to find out all the cool activities and events we found around town!

*please note the below images are property of Blue Abaya and copyrighted under KSA and international copyright laws

There were many other events around town though and we headed to check them out. There was a small festival area set up in the historical Diriyah area. We drove around the Wadi Hanifa and saw many families had set up fires and BBQ’s around the wadi. The weather is finally cooling down and evenings in the wadi are very pleasant.

The Diriyah festival had some traditional dancing and music, poetry recitals, small handicraft market and camel rides.

I love how so many Saudi women relax and let go of their cultural restrictions in public on occasions such as National day. It’s always so much fun to share a laugh and so many insist on having their pic taken by me :)

A Saudi baba was showing how to make Arabic coffee by the fire.

Everyone was in high spirits and donning at least a Saudi flag or something green!

At the festival area I was busy taking pictures of all the people who were requesting to be photographed. I could have stood there all night because people were literally lining up.

My friend is becoming a celebrity in Riyadh because she always appears in my photos and people are starting to recognize her, asking if she’s “the Blue Abaya lady” :)

I love you! This is what some children came up to say to us!  How can your heart not melt being surrounded by all this kindness and love?

The boys were asking, Please please take my picture too!

My daughter was scared of the coffee making baba. The first thing she said when he took her in his lap was “aiti!” which means mommy. My little shy pumpkin.

Meanwhile on the streets kids were hanging out of car windows, doors, roof tops and even sitting on top of the cars! But thank God this time the cars were not really moving anywhere, the traffic was completely halted.

Older men enjoyed the fun in their “pimped up rides”. LOL so funny to see what people come up with.

And what would National Day be without a Saudi religious police (muttawa) patrol? Here they are supervising the celebrations on Tahlia street.

my daughter in her cute Saudi traditional outfit waving her flag :)

It was a very HABBY Saudi National Day!

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  • NoorSeptember 25, 2012 - 6:34 am

    Looks like you all had fun.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousSeptember 25, 2012 - 8:04 am

    Nice pics!
    SimoneReplyCancel

  • JeanetteSeptember 25, 2012 - 2:20 pm

    Nice pictures! Looks like a fun time. Too bad the women weren’t able to let their hair out if only for one day!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousSeptember 25, 2012 - 9:42 pm

    I’m from Greece ! I’m so curious about customs there ! I’m reading often your blog ! It’s a totally different culture than western one ! Thanks for your time ! I wish all the best for you and your family !
    To be honest, I doubt if I could live there !
    Geià sou !
    :)ReplyCancel

  • Bourne69September 26, 2012 - 7:53 am

    Great Post Layla ! Could u please share more pictures of ur beautiful daughter ? :)ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousSeptember 27, 2012 - 4:07 am

      Creepy :SReplyCancel

    • Bourne69September 27, 2012 - 7:13 am

      Creepy ? Really ?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahSeptember 28, 2012 - 11:35 pm

      Bourne69 you can see some on the Blue Abaya Facebook page click on the link on the top of this page :)ReplyCancel

  • annieSeptember 26, 2012 - 7:26 pm

    Perhaps you should have become “green abaya” for a day!!

    AnnieReplyCancel

  • sulai shaSeptember 27, 2012 - 9:56 am

    check this out layla…..taped on national day
    http://www.youtube.com/rrzQh4UIPOMReplyCancel

  • LaylahSeptember 28, 2012 - 12:53 am

    Hey everyone sorry for not responding earlier, been terribly busy the last few days, thanks for the comments!
    I rather not post lots of pics of my daughter :)ReplyCancel

  • Khawla El-AlaouiSeptember 28, 2012 - 5:29 am

    Hey, great article and nice pictures! I was born on the 23rd September <3

    But it just doesn't feel right for Saudi flags which has Allah's name in it to be used in such away as to be worn like that…ReplyCancel

    • LaylahSeptember 28, 2012 - 11:37 pm

      Hi Khawla! Thanks and Happy birthday to you!
      Yes you have a point there! In Finland we are actually quite specific about the Finnish flags and it's respected a lot. Rarely you will see people "abusing" them :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 1, 2012 - 12:46 pm

    Salam Laylah
    Missing your regular posts abut interesting and thought provoking topics..it seems the blogging is slowing down. Looking forward to reading some more in the future.
    Thanks
    RayaReplyCancel

  • ربة منزلOctober 3, 2012 - 9:51 pm

    (Habby) LOOOOL! My husband has lived 5 years in USA and still cannot differentiate between the P and B. I guess it is Saudi thing.
    Your daughter looks beautiful in her jalabia Mashallah!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 5, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    What a lovely post, I enjoyed looking at all the pictures. I also enjoyed my Sunday off, which I celebrated by having an early morning family picnic and then a super long nap :) So it’s nice to see what everyone else was up to.
    NB – I rexpect and agree with your decision to keep photos of your daughter to a minimum.
    Sorry to post as anonymous – I dont have a google, AIM etc accountReplyCancel

  • alexofarabiaOctober 29, 2012 - 4:23 am

    As always I love the amount of thought, time, and energy goes into your work Laylah. Great pictures, makes me miss my national days in Riyadh and Jeddah (Jeddah is much more fun than Riyadh on the National Day, and most other days).

    ReplyCancel

    • LaylahNovember 4, 2012 - 9:24 pm

      alexofarabia-thank you so much and I agree about Jeddah :)ReplyCancel

  • […] while cheering and singing patriotic songsCheck out some of my photos from the previous year’s National Day celebration in Riyadh to find out all the stuff you’re missing out on if you decide on staying on the […]ReplyCancel

  • […] waving Saudi flags and posters of the King. A similar scenario can be seen on the streets during National Day celebrations, something quite new to be allowed to celebrate in the Saudi Kingdom […]ReplyCancel

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