The Saudi National Anthem
Hurry and Rise
To the highest glory
Glorify the Creator of the Sky
And raise the green flag
Which carry the guidance light
Repeat: Allahu Akbar
Live as the pride of all Muslims!
Long live the king
For the flag
Whenever one thinks of any official Saudi event or the first Saudi song that many Saudi children have memorized, it will be “Sariee” —the country’s national anthem. It has a long and interesting story. It was first officially adopted by King Abdulaziz in 1950 without lyrics. But its story started in 1947, when the Arabic Treasures: The Saudi National Anthem late Egyptian King Farouq asked the Egyptian composer Abdulrahman Al-Khatib to create a musical piece to be played during the official welcoming ceremony for King Abdulaziz who was going to visit Egypt at that time. Al-Khatib composed a music piece similar to what other Arab states played at official events. He played it himself on the trumpet during the welcoming ceremony.
It was liked by King Abdulaziz and therefore, King Farouq gifted it to the Saudi King. The King asked for this piece to be played at Saudi official ceremonies to salute royal families and diplomats since the Kingdom didn’t have a national anthem at that time. For 11 years, that piece without any lyrics was used as the official royal salute.
However, during King Saud’s time, he asked for lyrics for the anthem. The lyrics were created with more than 20 lines including: Long live the king, long live the homeland. That longer form was changed during another royal visit to Egypt.
In 1975, when King Khaled visited Egypt, he liked the Egyptian national anthem’s lyrics. He asked the Saudi Minister of Information at that time, Dr. Muhammad Abdo Yamani, to develo memorable lyrics for the Saudi anthem. Yamani then addressed Saudi prominent poets, asking them to fulfill the King’s wish. Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal recommended poet Ibrahim Khafaja to be the one to write it. Khafaja accepted this mission with great pride. However while working on it, King Khaled passed away and the project was put on hold. In 1984, King Fahd, who succeeded King Khaled, wanted to realize King Khaled’s dream. He ordered Khafaja to complete the anthem’s lyrics, instructing him to focus on Saudi heritage. The poet’s mission took six months, then he gave the lyrics to the famous Saudi composer Siraj Omar to tweak the music in line with the words. The national anthem was ready and sent to the Minister of Information then, Ali Al-Shaer, who presented the final version to King Fahd. When King Fahd heard it, he loved it and immediately ordered it to be distributed to all embassies of Saudi Arabia around the world.
On the first Day of Eid Al-Fitr in 1984, the Kingdom celebrated its first national anthem by playing it on national TV and radio. It was the first time Saudis and the whole world heard the Saudi national anthem. This year, the Kingdom will be celebrating the 36th birthday of the national anthem as it celebrates its 90th National Day.
Special Guest Contributor Sheikha Al-Dosary is a writer specialized in Saudi culture and is the founder of Saudi Women Stories.