Flag of Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg
Use State and war flag and state and naval ensign Obverse side meant to be hoisted with pole to the observer's right
Proportion 2:3
Adopted March 15, 1973
Design Green with the shahada inscription and a sword in white.

The flag of Saudi Arabia (Arabic: علم المملكة العربية السعودية‎) is the flag used by the government of Saudi Arabia since March 15, 1973. It is a green flag featuring in white an Arabic inscription and a sword. The inscription is the Islamic creed, or shahada.

Design

The Arabic inscription on the flag, written in the Thuluth script, is the shahada or Islamic declaration of faith:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله ومُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
lā ʾilāha ʾillā l-Lāh wa Muḥammadun rasūlu l-Lāh
"There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God"1
The shahada in the Saudi flag with individual words highlighted in different colors. Word order shown by color key at bottom. (Read from right to left)

The green of the flag represents Islam and the sword stands for the House of Saud, the founding dynasty of the country,2 or the military strength and prowess of Saudi Arabia.3

The flag is manufactured with identical obverse and reverse sides, to ensure the shahada reads correctly, from right to left, from either side. The sword points to the left on both sides, in the direction of the script. The flag is sinister hoisted, meaning that it is hoisted to the left of the flagpole, as viewed from the obverse (front) side. (Flagpole is to the right of the flag). The flags green is Pantone 349 C (C90, M12, Y95, K40)4

Use

The flag of Saudi Arabia is never flown at half-staff.

Because the shahada is considered holy, the flag is not normally used on T-shirts or other items. Saudi Arabia protested against its inclusion on a planned football to be issued by FIFA, bearing all the flags of the participants of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Saudi officials said that kicking the creed with the foot was completely unacceptable. Similarly, an attempt by the U.S. military to win favour with children of the Prost region of Afghanistan by distributing footballs adorned with flags, including that of Saudi Arabia, ended in demonstrations.5

The flag is never lowered to half-mast as a sign of mourning because lowering it would be considered blasphemous.6

The normal flag cannot be hoisted vertically according to Saudi legislation. Special vertical flags are manufactured where both the inscription (the creed) and the emblem (the sword) are rotated, although this is rare as most Arab countries lack the tradition of hoisting flags vertically.7

History

The Al Saud, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, has long been closely associated with the Wahhabi religious movement. The Wahhabis, since the 18th century, had used the shahada on their flags.8 In 1902 Abdulaziz Abdulrahman Al-Saud, leader of the Al Saud and the future founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, added a sword to this flag.8 The design of the flag was not standardized prior to March 15, 1973, and variants with two swords and/or a white vertical stripe at the hoist were frequently used. By 1938, the flag had basically assumed its present form, except the sword had a different design (with a more curved blade) and it, along with the shahada above, took up more of the flag's space.

Variant of the flag in use from 1932 to 1934, with white stripe on the hoist.
Variant of the flag in use from 1934 to 1938, with a thinner white stripe.
Variant of the flag in use from 1938 to 1973, with no stripe.

Past flags

The precursor states to Saudi Arabia were Nejd and Hejaz. The state flag of Nejd followed today's Saudi flag pattern very closely. The state of Hijaz followed the patterns seen in countries like Palestine and Sudan. From 1744 a crescent was present.citation needed From 1902 until 1921 a different Arabic inscription was used. One of the primary opponents to the Saudis was the Al Rashid family in the north of the peninsula, until their defeat in 1921.

Other flags

The civil ensign, for use by merchant vessels at sea, is a green flag with the state flag in the canton with a white border. The royal standard is the state flag with the palm tree and swords in the canton.

References

  1. ^ "About Saudi Arabia: Facts and figures". The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington D.C. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Campo, Juan E. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. p. 244. ISBN 978-0816077458. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Eriksen, Thomas; Jenkins, Richard (2007). Flag, Nation and Symbolism in Europe and America. p. 171. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  4. ^ UN Map Library
  5. ^ Leithead, Alastair (2007-08-26). "'Blasphemous' balls anger Afghans". BBC News Online. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  6. ^ "Saudi King Fahd is laid to rest". BBC News. 2 August 2005. 
  7. ^ Saudi Arabia, FOTW Flags Of The World, 19 January 2008. Accessed 13 May 2009.
  8. ^ a b Firefly Guide to Flags of the World. 2003. p. 165. ISBN 978-1552978139. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 

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