What and When is KSA National Day?
Prior to what we know today as Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz was a monarchy made up of tribal groups across the Arabian Peninsula, each with individual systems of governance and rulers. In the early 20th century, the ruler of Nejd, King Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud in Arabic, or “son of Saud” in English) – set out to unify his ancestral land. Nearly 30 years after this initial goal, he and his armies successfully conquered these diverse Bedouin groups, sultanates, minor kingdoms, and emirates from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf and unified them under his rule. Ibn Saud chose his family name Saud for this new state, Saudi Arabia.
As the birthplace of Islam with monumentally significant sites such as Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia has historically limited its national celebrations to religious holidays such as Eid el Fitr, Eid al Adha, and the Hajj. However, in 2005, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decreed that September 23 was to become an official, annual holiday for the country starting for the country’s 75th anniversary in 2007. This was a monumental step in building nationalism and establishing a strong Saudi identity.
How is KSA National Day celebrated?
Every year since the first iteration of the holiday on September 23, 2007, the festivities have become bigger and more widely celebrated across the kingdom. Saudi citizens all have the day off work where they take to the streets to attend parades, watch large-scale airshows, and dramatic firework displays. However, the conservativism of the kingdom means the celebrations are all halal (in line with Muslim religious guidelines). This means while gathering with friends and enjoying food is widespread and appropriate, popping bottles of champagne is not. The celebration here thus looks very different from what you would expect during the Fourth of July or Canada Day.
Additionally, the government frequently chooses this day to make key announcements to the country. For example, 2009’s National Day announced the creation of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. 2014’s National Day unveiled the world’s tallest flagpole.
Why Should I Care About Saudi Arabia’s National Day?
Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and is home to some of the wealthiest people on earth. With a population of nearly 35 million people and an average salary of more than 70,000 USD, there is significant business opportunity throughout the country in nearly every sector.
National Day ushers in increased consumerism in the country as family and friends come together to enjoy a day free from work. To capture this market, many Saudi businesses offer attractive sales and promotions to encourage people to buy affordable gifts for the get-togethers. Services are also frequently discounted as well. Whether capitalizing on these deals for themselves or for their friends, Saudis are ready to spend and save. Thus, with everyone online shopping, visiting Saudi’s many impressive malls, or getting a group together for a communal meal ensure you don’t miss this opportunity by offering a sweet deal!
What Language Should I Use for the Biggest Reach in Saudi?
Arabic is by far the most widely spoken language in Saudi Arabia. It is the first language of all native Saudis. However, nearly one-third of Saudi’s population consists of immigrants, meaning that you may want to use a different language if you are targeting a subsection of the population. English is used as a commercial language, and Tagalog, Urdu, and Rohingya are also frequently spoken.
Include Saudi’s Flag and Green and White in Marketing Content
Saudi Arabia’s national colors are white and green, as reflected on the flag. Green is the color of Islam, as it symbolizes the Prophet Muhammed’s favorite color. The government has used this green and white flag since 1973, where it has become synonymous with Saudi Arabian culture, history, and identity. This green shade is especially utilized in festive decor. Green balloons are released into the sky, green fireworks shoot over the Arabian peninsula, airshows leave a wake of green jet contrails, and Saudi people dress head to toe in green clothing. Like anywhere around the world, this special day is an opportunity to show patriotism and pride for your country.
This was the Google homepage Doodle during Saudi Arabia’s 2020 National Day celebrations. This graphic illustrates the importance of white and green in marketing materials.
An advertisement for a local bakery
Content Images and Themes
Whether it is curating themed blog posts, creating new graphic designs, or making social media posts, it is crucial to understand what key images and themes are appealing to Saudis.
1. Imagery of swords
Beneath the Arabic calligraphy on the flag translated in English as “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”, is a sword that pays respect to King Abdul Aziz or Ibn Saud, explained previously in this article as the founder of Saudi Arabia. The sword thus is a strong reflection of the nation.
2. Palm Trees
The palm tree has a lot of significance in Saudi, representing life and growth in the desert. It is a frequent motif used in Saudi depictions and will have positive associations for your marketing campaign.
This was the Google Doodle for 2019, using the images of the sword and the palm trees.
3. Saudi cultural depictions
It is becoming increasingly popular for groups to hold events highlighting Saudi’s cultural triumphs. These activities center around poetry contests, traditional music performances, and art exhibitions that tell the important stories of the country’s past. Incorporating artistic references or making graphics that can do your part to showcase Saudi’s diverse, but often unknown cultural treasures.
Google’s 2017 Doodle celebrating the diversity of Saudi people
4. Celebratory Images
Photos and graphics that use depictions of the country’s massive airshows, light shows, and fireworks displays are an excellent way to generate excitement leading up to September 23. In the weeks before, Saudis will see your marketing campaign and feel anticipation for the event.
5. Family and Friends
This is a time for gathering between friends and family as they get together to celebrate their beloved country. Your marketing campaign should appeal to this sense of gathering and belonging, imploring people to buy your goods and services to feel closer to their loved ones.
This video is a promo for Saudi Arabia’s 2020 National Day. Many of the aforementioned themes are visually displayed in this video.
Identify and Include Relevant SEO Keywords
Proper SEO research should be done to determine what content is popular in Saudi Arabia currently. Understanding the top keyword searches and most in-demand information is essential for online marketing. Analyzing trends from previous KSA National Days will allow you to position your marketing strategy towards success. However, this process also demands improvisation, as you constantly tailor your content to popular real-time data. Research should be done in both Arabic and English (or any secondary-expat market you intend to reach).
Saudi Arabia is known internationally for its conservative Islam, only recently allowing things commonplace in other global destinations, such as recreational movie theaters and driving licenses for women. Though there are pockets of liberalism in areas with high concentrations of expatriates, the country widely remains strict. Therefore, if you are attempting to reach a wide audience across Saudi Arabia, you must be very intentional with how your message is portrayed. A cultural slip-up would be detrimental to your business, and possibly even illegal under Sharia law. Ensure that your marketing campaign receives the stamp of approval from people well familiar with Saudi culture before the launch, particularly if you are trying to do something creative. For more information about effective, appropriate tactics in Saudi Arabia, check out our digital marketing guide here.
When Should I Start My Marketing Campaign?
Any good marketing campaign is all about timing. It is important to be well-prepared for Saudi National Day, so your marketing message does not get drowned out by all of the other deals and promotions offered throughout the Kingdom. Thus, you need to be early, but not too early that your message is irrelevant. Our team of Saudi Arabia marketing professionals recommends 3-5 weeks before September 23.