Founding Day in Saudi Arabia Date in the current year: February 22, 2024

Founding Day in Saudi Arabia Founding Day is a public holiday in Saudi Arabia that was established in 2022. It is celebrated on February 22 to commemorate the founding of the Great Emirate of Diriyah, also known as the First Saudi State, by Muhammad bin Saud.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country on the Arabian Peninsula that covers the greater part of the peninsula. The first state on the Arabian Peninsula was the Rashidun Caliphate established in 623. At its peak, the territory of the Caliphate included the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, parts of North Africa, and the Iranian Plateau to parts of Central Asia and South Asia.

In the 16th century, the Arabian Peninsula was conquered by the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim II. The degree of control that Ottomans had over the peninsula varied over the subsequent years. The emergence of what was to become the ruling dynasty of Saudi Arabia began during the rule of Mahmud I, who was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire between 1730 and 1754.

The Saud dynasty was founded by Muhammad bin Saud Al Murqin, the emir of the city of Diriyah that was founded by his ancestors in 1446 or 1447. Muhammad bin Saud became the ruler of Diriyah in 1727. This year is considered the beginning of statehood of Saudi Arabia, although the First Saudi State didn’t begin to expand beyond Diriyah until 1744.

This expansion became possible thanks to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, an Islamic scholar and religious leader who became the spiritual guide of the First Saudi State. Muhammad bin Saud and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab formed an alliance that allowed them to unify the many states of the Arabian Peninsula under a common ideology.

By the early 19th century Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the eldest grandson of Muhammad bin Saud, had control over the entirety of Najd (the geographic center of the Arabian Peninsula), as well as the western and eastern parts of the peninsula. Sadly, the prosperity of the First Saudi State was short-lived.

In 1811, the Ottoman governor of Egypt Muhammad Ali was ordered to crush the First Saudi State by Sultan Mahmud II. The Ottoman-Saudi War lasted for seven years and resulted in the destruction of the First Saudi State. Emir Abdullah bin Saud Al Saud was executed, but some of his relatives and supporters managed to escape intact.

In 1823, Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud led a rebellion against the Ottoman rule. The next year, he captured Riyad and designated it as the capital of the Second Saudi State. The successor of the First Saudi State existed for seven decades before being destroyed by the Al Rashid clan of the Emirate of Jebel Shammar.

Although the First Saudi State was relatively short-lived, its founding paved the way for the present-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Because of this, the anniversary of Muhammad bin Saud ascent to power has been celebrated in Saudi Arabia as Founding Day since 2022.

Founding Day should not be confused with the National Day of Saudi Arabia. The latter is celebrated on September 23 to commemorate the unification of the various tribes, sheikhdoms, city-states, emirates, and kingdoms under the Saud dynasty and the proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

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