Monday, September 24, 2012

National Day Celebrations In Riyadh

The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia celebrated its 82nd birthday on Sunday the 23rd of September. As usual, the streets were full of Saudis celebrating the National Day. In addition to everyone having Sunday off, King Abdullah had given an extra day off for government employees meaning many people got to enjoy a four day weekend which in Saudi-Arabia is normally Thursday and Friday.
 All the main streets and road were lined with Saudi flags. There must be literally tens of thousands of them. Wonder where they store them?
This year people had already began celebrating on Saturday and the streets flooded with cars flying Saudi flags and people hanging out of them. Tahlia street was fully packed with cars and young men ressed in the most creative outfits. Radio stations were playing patriotic songs and songs praising King Abdullah. Everything seemed to have turned green, including the Faisaliyah and Kingdom towers.
We went out on both evenings to see the celebrations. According to this Arab News article there would be celebrations in Kindy plaza at the Diplomatic Quarters where thousands of Saudi flags would be distributed and there would be a special program there. We live nearby and went to check it out, there was nothing there to our disappointment! Strangely the article also said malls such as Panorama and Hayat would have programs for kid, but in reality the malls remained closed on Sunday. I wonder how many people went all the way to these locations only to find out there was nothing there.
There were many other events around town though and we headed to check them out. There was a small festival area set up in the historical Diriyah area. We drove around the Wadi Hanifa and saw many families had set up fires and BBQ's around the wadi. The weather is finally cooling down and evenings in the wadi are very pleasant.
The Diriyah festival had some traditional dancing and music, poetry recitals, small handicraft market and camel rides.

I love how so many Saudi women relax and let go of their cultural restrictions in public on occasions such as National day. 

 A Saudi baba was showing how to make Arabic coffee by the fire.

Everyone was in high spirits and donning at least a Saudi flag or something green!

 At the festival area I was busy taking pictures of all the people who were requesting to be photographed. I could have stood there all night because people were literally lining up.
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My friend likes camels! I'm still too scared to get this close.
I love you! This is what some children came up to say :)
Please please take my picture too!
My daughter was scared of the coffee making baba. The first thing she said when he took her in his lap was "aiti!" which means mommy.
Meanwhile on the streets kids were hanging out of car windows, doors, roof tops and even sitting on top of the cars!

Older men enjoyed the fun in pimped up rides.
These boys better hurry before muttawa catches them!
And what would National Day be without a muttawa patrol? Here they are supervising on Tahlia street. 
My daughter was in on the fun too!
It was a very HABBY Saudi National Day!

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