By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
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(SDN) — The Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Philippines will celebrate its 92nd National Day — Al-Yaom-ul-Watany” in Arabic — on September 23, 2022.
Celebrations back after a two-year hiatus
His Excellency Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Hisham bin Sultan Al-Qahtani will lead the celebration joined by the embassy’s other officials, staff, and employees.
Expected to attend the in-person event at Grand Hyatt Manila, a five-star hotel in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, are Philippine government officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and other state agencies and bodies, diplomats from the other diplomatic missions based in the country, friends of the embassy from the private sector, Muslim political and community leaders, and others lucky to be invited to the invitation-only affair.
After an absence of in-person celebration due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s observance of the momentous and important occasion is back. Expect other embassies to follow suit.
Various embassies have canceled their National Day celebrations in 2020 and 2021 as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic hit the world since December 2019. As a result, many in-person activities were either canceled or suspended across the world, including the traditional annual National Day celebrations.
Saudi Arabia became a unified Kingdom when King Abdul Aziz bin Al-Saud unified the regions of Nejd and Hejaz (which he ruled separately) on September 23, 1932, renaming the House of Nejd and Hejaz into the “House of Saud” or “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. The name of the new Kingdom is a tribute to the King’s family name. Since then, every 23rd of September is recognized and celebrated in Saudi Arabia annually as National Day.
Every National Day has its own distinct marker
There are important symbols of the National Day, chief among them “is the color of the country’s flag.
Edarabia.com explained that the official flag of the Kingdom “features a green field with white Arabic inscription and sword.”
The inscription in English means “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is the Messenger of God.” It is a statement of faith (Shahaddah) among Muslims. On the other hand, the “sword” image symbolizes King Abdul Aziz, the founder of the Kingdom.
Needless to say, the National Day is a public holiday and is celebrated weeklong with festive and diverse activities. It includes, but not limited to, “folklore dances, festivals, and other cultural activities throughout the Kingdom.”
Every observance of the National Day has its own distinct marker: 2009, launching of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST); 2014, the launch of the world’s tallest flagpole in Jeddah.
For 2022, according to Al-Arabia English news portal, the National Day celebration will feature a “new identity” merging “the past and the future of Saudi Arabia, under the slogan ‘This is Our Home.'”
Al-Arabia explained that “This is Our Home” has its roots “in the deep sense of pride and patriotism that Saudi nationals have towards their country and the sense of belonging that residents likewise share.”
The slogan embraces the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision 2023 for the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has been the top destination every year of Filipinos seeking the proverbial greener pasture abroad, the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) community in the Kingdom approaching a million already.
Saudi Arabia is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Its other members are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. Collectively the six-member GCC — all producers of oil — hosts over one million-strong OFW community.
Establishment of diplomatic ties led to postings of ambassadors
The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, noted that the Philippines bestowed recognition to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on November 15, 1946, with diplomatic relations between the two countries established in October 1969.
Following this milestone the Philippines opened its first diplomatic mission on December 23, 1973, in Jeddah, the gateway to Islam’s two holiest houses of worship, Masjidil Haram or Makkah Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjidil Nabawi) in Madinah, the city founded by Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu Allaihi Salam) at the time when Islam was a new religion in the heart of humanity.
The Philippine Embassy was subsequently transferred to Riyadh in July 1985 as the Saudi capital became the seat of all diplomatic missions in the Kingdom following the Royal Decree of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, ordering the transfer from Jeddah.
Since then, many Filipino ambassadors have been posted to Riyadh, such as Mauyag M. Tamano, Abraham Rasul, Romulo M. Espaldon, Rafael E. Seguis, Bahnarim A. Guinomla, Antonio P. Villamor, Ezzedin H. Tago (now ambassador to Egypt), and Adnan Alonto (during the time of the then President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Currently, the embassy in Riyadh has no ambassador yet; it’s led by the young Moro diplomat Rommel Romato as interim charge d’affaires.
On the Saudi Embassy in the country, the top diplomats posted in the Philippines were Ambassadors Fuad Hassan Faki, Saleh Mohammad Al-Ghamdi, Mohammad Ameen Wali, Abdullah Al-Hassan, Dr. Abdullah N.A. Al-Bussairy, and Al-Qahtani, the current one.
So, on Friday, September 23, all roads lead to the 92nd National Day of Saudi Arabia. Incidentally, the affair is strictly on invitation-only basis. (✓)