Today is the 82nd anniversary of the Kingdom’s founding. While Saudi National Day is not a religious occasion, the fact that this year Sept. 23 is placed between Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha does give it certain sanctity. And the fact that just a few years ago, Saudi National Day became an official holiday – the only other holidays are the Eid festivals – shows the importance the country’s leadership and its populace attach to this day which belongs to all Saudis.
The day incorporates all the customs and traditions in Saudi Arabia and signifies the true spirit of the nation. Based on the principals of Arab solidarity, Islamic jurisprudence and economic progress, the Kingdom continues to witness phenomenal growth and security. As such, King Abdullah, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can take pride in the immense strides made since the last National Day celebration.
When the Ministry of Finance announced its 2012 budget, it marked another all-time high as the government continues to invest in human and physical infrastructure. Total expenditures are budgeted at SR690 billion ($184 billion), an increase of 19 percent over the budgetary figure for 2011.
Investment spending has increased to SR265 billion ($70.6 billion). As in previous years, education and training have received the largest share, at 24 percent of total spending or SR165 billion ($44.1 billion). Allocations for transportation, telecommunications, health, and social affairs also saw large increases. Saudi Arabia created 380,000 new jobs in 10 months by requiring private firms to employ Saudis. The figure is reportedly 20 times more than what was achieved over the previous five years.
The Kingdom has not forgotten its traditional, leading role as a primary source of aid for other Arab countries. As of this month, Saudi Arabia had disbursed about a fifth of the much-needed assistance it promised Arab countries since uprisings erupted in the region last year. Riyadh pledged $17.9 billion in loans, grants and other support between the start of 2011 and June 1 this year, to be disbursed over several years, potentially making it a key donor as Arab countries struggle to repair economic damage caused by the uprisings.
In sports, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Saudi Arabia stole the show. By fielding female athletes, the Kingdom helped ensure that women, for the first time, represented every country in an Olympics.
National Day represents the identity of the nation and is greatly associated with the unification of the Kingdom by the late King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud in 1932. Today is the time for Saudis to display the green and white. It is a day for the Kingdom’s heritage, history and traditions to be showcased. It is a day of patriotism when love of country must override love of self.