Bringing honor to our National Day
When we see what has transpired since Sept. 23, 1932, it is beyond remarkable to see what has been created in our homeland
Sept. 23 deserves a special place in Saudi hearts. That day in 1932 their country was established, in a far different world than we see today. It was founded at the height of empires and colonialism, during the depths of the Great Depression, when Hitler and his National Socialist Party was on the verge of assuming power in Germany, and when Stalin was beginning his quest for absolute power in Russia.
In 1932, the foreshadowing of World War II was beginning to show itself in northeast Asia, with Japan’s conquest of Chinese Manchuria. In the year of our first Saudi National Day, authoritarian powers were beginning their bids for global domination. In our region, France was in Morocco, Algeria and the Levant, Italy was in Libya, Somalia and Eritrea, and Britain was in Egypt, Palestine and Iraq.
When we see what has transpired since Sept. 23, 1932, it is beyond remarkable to see what has been created in our homeland. Let us give honor to our National Day by looking at the path we have traveled, how the world has changed, and where we find ourselves today.
The kingdom, founded by King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman al-Saud, has outlasted Bolshevik Russia, Hitler’s supposed 1,000-year Reich, the British Empire and the Cold War. Very few people, if any, at the time of our first National Day would have taken that bet. In the 21st century, Saudi Arabia finds itself at the forefront of the global community, with a large presence in the region and beyond.
What we have today comes with great responsibility, and awareness of who we are, where we have come from and where we can be. This must be impressed upon Saudi youthsFaisal Al-Shammeri
Then and now
If we had told our grandparents and great grandparents then what we would be today, they would have found it hard to believe. Riyadh went from a provincial capital to a hustling metropolis with global stature. King Abdulaziz had his first meeting with the US president on a naval vessel to begin Saudi-American relations. Now US presidents visit Riyadh as partners of the highest strategic order, for both sides.
Saudi Arabia was among the first signatories of the UN Charter, established in the last months of World War II. One of the largest companies the world has ever seen, Saudi Aramco, is just one of the fruits of this relationship that has developed since 1932. We are one of the richest countries civilization has ever known.
People from all over the world work in the kingdom in highly-skilled professions, for salaries that sometimes exceed what they can make in their home countries. We are emerging as a source of manufacturing, petrochemicals and technology. We began this journey on Sept. 23, 1932.
Today, we have a region of instability, in some cases submerged in extreme pain, despair, sadism and death. Saudi Arabia stands at the forefront against belligerent agitators who offer pain and death to the region’s peoples. The kingdom is at the forefront of humanity, partnered with countries that are among the most important in today’s geopolitical order.
Under the leadership of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is vaulting into the 21st century under Vision 2030. Today, we are the bridge from Europe to the Middle East and Asia. The kingdom on this National Day would be unrecognizable to our grandparents and great grandparents.
What we have today comes with great responsibility, and awareness of who we are, where we have come from and where we can be. This must be impressed upon Saudi youths. French Emperor Napoleon once said: “It’s just a step between the ridiculous and the sublime.” He was right. Folly and complacency create the bridge between the ridiculous and the sublime.
Today, we honor our National Day, Prophet Mohammed, the holy mosques of Makkah and Medina, our forefathers and ancestors, King Salman, Mohammed bin Naif, Mohammed bin Salman, our brave soldiers fighting in Yemen for our peace and security, members of the armed forces and National Guard, and our parents. We do that by never forgetting where we have come from, and by knowing where we are today and the possibilities for our future if we honor and respect our past.
Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst based in Washington DC. He tweets @mr_alshammeri