September 23rd 2014 marks the 84th year of the Unification of Saudi Arabia by King Abdul Aziz Al Saud. To check out the year’s 2015 National Day festivities, go to this post: Saudi National Day and Eid Al Adha 2015. Saudi Arabia is gearing up for the festivities and KSA’s biggest cities Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam- Al Khobar are arranging all kinds of events and festivals to celebrate the occasion! Most people will be off from work and the schools will remain closed. This means lots of traffic jams due to the amount of people celebrating on the streets. Personally I don’t mind spending the National Day in Riyadh because there’s so many interesting things to do and everyone seems to be in such a joyous mood. I know many expats and Saudis don’t necessarily share the same view on this and rather stay home and hide under their blankets.
This could be partly due to lack of knowledge about the ongoing events around town. People tend to avoid the city center where thousands of people flock in their decorated cars, packed with Saudis of all ages dressed in green, waving flags and singing songs. The good news is there are places away from that area worth going to. Check out some of my photos from the previous year’s National Day celebration in Riyadh for ideas.
For 2015 as National Day coincides with the start of Hajj, there will be no fireworks this year and the festivals will be delayed until the weekend. A new festival area in Riyadh is the Bujairy area in Historical Diriyah which is a beautiful place to visit on its own. Check it out here: Riyadh’s Historic District Ad’Diriyah
Most of these location have pretty much the same programs for families. There’s traditional Saudi foods, arts and crafts, heritage displays, info on KSA tourism, folklore tents, traditional dances, music, songs, poetry, plays etc etc..Most events start around 6pm until midnight. According to the organizers: “the program, which kicks off on Tuesday afternoon will include video presentations, laser shows, fireworks and military performances. There are in addition to several recreational activities, heritage and sports programs suitable for all members of the family. the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh will be among places where the celebrations start at eight in the evening on Tuesday. Another important site is the King Abdullah Park in Malaz where the festivities will begin at 5 p.m. continue into the night. As usual, King Abdulaziz Historical Center will showcase the typical Arabian tent, heritage products, textiles, handicrafts and children’s theater.”
If you decide to go to the King Abdul Aziz Historical center area, you can listen to the ‘Rababa’ , the Arabian Violin. This thousands of years old instrument has only one chord! The simplicity of the Bedouin love songs combined with the rababah is something very unique and worth experiencing, even if you don’t understand the lyrics.
My favorite part of National Day? Dressing the kids up in the cutest traditional Saudi attire! For mr. Peanut, it’s a thobe, Saudi sandals and a little cap. For my little Saudi Princess, she wears a beautiful green or fuschia dress with gold coins and then a gold coin ‘crown” on her hair. The combined cuteness of this is almost too much to handle!
Whatever you decide to do, I wish everyone a nice National Day in Saudi Arabia!
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