8 things you didn't know about the Saudi Arabian national flag

8 things you didn't know about the Saudi Arabian national flag

A symbol of national pride, we delve into the deeper significance of some lesser-known facts about the Saudi flag
15 May 24
العلم السعودي رمز يرتبط بتاريخ الأمة، ثقافتها، ديانتها وتراثها

National flags hold great significance for nations across the world.

Encouraging citizens to unite under a shared or common identity, flags often symbolise the identity and pride of a nation. The importance and significance of national flags is evident through the use of colours, designs and icons which represent various elements of a nation's history, culture, religion and heritage.

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Additionally, national flags are crucial for international recognition, representing a country on the global stage at diplomatic meetings, sporting events, and other international gatherings. Flags represent a country's values and aspirations both domestically and internationally.

Internationally, national flags command respect and honour, being ceremonially raised and lowered on significant occasions, such as national holidays, periods of mourning for significant figures and military ceremonies.

Discover five fascinating and lesser-known facts about the Saudi Arabian national flag, below:

Why is the Saudi Arabian flag never lowered?

Many nations lower their flags to half mast or entirely, as a sign of mourning and respect, typically in response to a significant loss, tragedy, or the death of a prominent figure. This gesture symbolises a collective sense of grief and solidarity with those affected by the event.

However, the Saudi Arabian flag is never lowered to half mast under any circumstances. This is written into law, specifically, Article 13 of the Kingdom's Flag Law.

Even during periods of mourning, the Saudi flag remains displayed at the top of the flag pole. A punishment for lowering or flying the Saudi Arabian flag at half mast can result in a fine of up to SAR 3000 (US$800) and up to one year in jail.

What do the words on the Saudi flag mean?

In white calligraphy-style Arabic script known as Thuluth, the Saudi Arabian national flag is inscribed with the shahāda. The shahāda is the Islamic declaration of faith and it is also one of the five pillars of Islam. In English, this inscription translates to, "There is no god but Allah: Muhammad is the prophet of Allah".

The Saudi flag is double sided

Unlike other national flags, the Saudi Arabian flag is specially designed to ensure that the shahāda reads correctly (from right to left), on both sides, regardless of which side the flag is viewed from.

What does the design of the flag represent?

Material: Any Saudi Arabian flag on display should be made of green silk, with a white stripe of material that sits closest to the flagpole.

Size & Shape: The flag is displayed as a vertical rectangle, and its width must equal two-thirds of its length.

Colours of the flag: The green of the flag has a number of meanings. The deep, rich forest green is representative of growth and progress, as well as peace and tolerance. The white used in the inscription symbolises the purity and definitive meaning of the message or shahāda.

Other features: A white horizontal sword or sabre sits below the shahāda, and is symbolic of the founding of the state by the House of Saud. The sabre is also represents the nation's constant striving for justice, and the adherence to the nation's religious morals.

It is not permitted to use the Saudi Arabian flag for commercial purposes

Businesses and commercial entities are forbidden from using the national flag in any promotional, advertising or selling activity. This also includes the printing of the emblem on items such as tshirts or coffee cups for example.

The Saudi flag is never draped or displayed in a vertical position

Under Saudi legislation, the Saudi Arabian flag cannot be displayed in a vertical position, it must always be displayed and hoisted so that the flag will fly in a horizontal position. This is to maintain the integrity of the flag, and ensure the religious symbolism is respected.

The flag pole used must meet certain criteria

According to Article 3 of the Flag Code, a flagpole erected in a public square or any public area must be at least six meters tall, while a flagpole mounted on a building must be no less than three meters tall. The width of the flag pole in both instances, must not be less than 80cm.

If damaged or worn, the Saudi flag must be returned to the state for proper disposal

It is prohibited to use or fly a flag that is damaged, discoloured or in poor condition.

There is a proper way to dispose of a damaged or worn flag; it should be returned to official authorities to be disposed of in a specific and procedural manner that involves an approved burning ceremony for the damaged flag. It is against the law for non-officials to burn the flag outside of these conditions and approved procedures.

This information has been collated using a number of sources and documents from Saudi Press Agency, Encyclopædia Britannica and Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University