Saudi Arabia is celebrating Founding Day on Wednesday. The anniversary was announced by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz in 2022 and will be marked annually on February 22.
The day commemorates the Kingdom’s founding by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in February 1727. King Salman stressed that the occasion is a source of pride in the founding of the Saudi state that has consolidated the foundations of peace and stability. The day is an occasion to celebrate the history of the state, harmony of its people, their steadfastness against all challenges and hopes for the future.
Founding Day celebrates Saudi Arabia’s long history and heroes. It is a day to remember centuries of development, growth, progress and prosperity. Today, the Kingdom has taken its place as a major player in the international arena, playing an influential role in political, economic and social affairs.
Researchers and historians attest to the strength of the Saudi state throughout the centuries. They stress that the ambitions of its rulers knew no limits, citing their achievement of justice and equality, the defeat of division and approval of laws that laid the foundations of the state.
They benefitted from the city state of Diriyah that existed 600 years ago. Diriyah marked the starting point for the foundation of the Saudi state three centuries ago when Imam Mohammed established a strong state that imposed its influence throughout most of the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, its rulers’ ambitions extended further east towards India where the British were present.
Diriyah had to contend with the “Ottoman caliphate” that was ruling the region at the time. The Ottomans saw a rival in the Saudi state and worked relentlessly to destroy it and its capital, Diriyah. Indeed, the First Saudi State was defeated by foreign forces, but rose up again, only to be defeated by internal conflicts.
It wasn’t until almost over a century ago that King Abdulaziz managed to restore unity and form the Third Saudi State that is more powerful and fortified than ever before.
Imam Mohammed (1679-1765) was born in Diriyah. He dedicated his life to the Saudi state that stretched throughout most of the Arabian Peninsula and reached as far as Iraq and the Sham region.
He was succeeded by his son, Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who is considered as one of the greatest rulers of the Arabian Peninsula. He is remembered for his military skill and strong management of the state, which he helped expand to the Najd, al-Ahsa and Asir regions and parts of the Arabian Gulf.
His armies fought campaigns against the Ottomans and they peacefully entered the holy city of Makkah in 1803.
He was succeeded by his son Imam Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed. He further expanded the influence of the state and carried out reforms, but did not expand its borders much beyond the Arabian Peninsula.
He succeeded in uniting the Hijaz tribes, alarming the Ottomans, who kicked off hostile campaigns to defeat the Saudi state. Imam Saud was succeeded by his son Abdullah who waged seven years of war against the Ottomans, who came out as the victors, leading to the demise of the First Saudi State.
After a period of chaos, Imam Turki bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Saud succeeded in 1824 in reclaiming Riyadh and expelling hostile Ottoman forces. He founded the Second Saudi State that came to an end in 1891 with Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal’s defeat in Riyadh in 1891.
In 1902, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman recaptured Riyadh and announced the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, laying the foundation of the third state.