The culture of Saudi Arabia is defined by its Islamic heritage, its historical role as an ancient trade centre, and its Bedouin traditions. The Saudi society has evolved over the years, their values and traditions from customs, hospitality to their style of dressing, are adapting with modernization.
Saudi Arabia was a conclusion of a deep-rooted cultural heritage, as well as an inherent of a series of civilizations that were crowned by Islam religion. Hence, the campaign seeks to highlight the cultural aspect of Saudi Arabia which integrates with its Islamic, political and economic aspects. The campaign’s programs and projects aim at highlighting the cultural importance of the national heritage.
Arabic is one of the oldest groups of languages in the world. The inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula were the first to use the Arabic language in pre-Islamic times. With the expansion of Islam and Islamic culture in the 7th century AD, the Arabic language spread north, east and west. The Arabic language is today one of the world’s most widely spoken languages. There are some 200 million Arabic speakers in more than 20 countries.
Arabic is the official language of many Arab nations in the Middle East and northern Africa, including the Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. Written Classical Arabic is the standard written language of all Arab nations. It is the language of the Holy Quran, the sacred book of the Islam, and has changed little over the centuries. A spoken form of written Arabic is used for formal speech, radio and TV news broadcasts and in films, plays and poetry. This form also serves as a common spoken language for Arabs from all parts of the Arabic speaking world.
Saudi traditions are rooted in Islamic teachings and Arab customs. The highlights of the year are the holy month of Ramadan and the Hajj (pilgrimage) season, and the national holidays that follow them. The holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, culminates with the Eid Al Fitr holiday. The Pilgrimage season draws millions of Muslim pilgrims from around the world come to Makkah every year. It concludes with the Eid Al Adha holiday. Saudis’ valuable Arab traditions include generosity and hospitality. Arabic coffee (its preparation is also a form of cultural tradition) is often served in small cups along with dates and sweets as a hospitality gesture offered to visitors, friends or family.
One of Saudi Arabia’s most compelling folk rituals is the “Al Ardha”, the country’s national dance. This sword dance is based on ancient Bedouin traditions: drummers beat out a rhythm and a poet chants verses while sword-carrying men dance shoulder to shoulder. “Al sihba” folk music, from the Hejaz, has its origins in Al Andalus. In Makkah, Medina and Jeddah, dance and song incorporate the sound of the “Mizmar”, an oboelike woodwind instrument in the performance of the “Mizmar” dance. The drum is also an important instrument according to traditional and tribal customs. “Samri” is a popular traditional form of music and dance in which poetry is sung especially in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.
Poetry is especially important to Arab cultural life, and has long been considered one of the highest expressions of literary art. It was primarily an oral tradition during the nomadic days of Bedouins, a form of preservation of history, traditions and social values. Poetry remains popular among Saudis today in the form of media (e.g. televised poetry competition) or traditional oral poetry. For instance, the annual Jenadriyah National Culture and Heritage Festival, features the reading of poetry by established poets.
The Saudi Arabian public education system includes 29 public universities, 9 private universities, 36 colleges and a large number of schools and other institutions. The system is open to all citizens, and provides free education, books and health services. While the study of Islam remains at its core, the modern Saudi educational system also provides quality instruction in diverse fields of arts and sciences. This diversity helps the country prepare its citizens for life and work in a global economy. Formal primary education began in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. By 1945, King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al Saud, the country’s founder, created an extensive program to establish schools in Saudi Arabia. The first university, now known as King Saud University, was founded in Riyadh in 1957. In 1954, the Ministry of Education was established, followed by the Ministry of Higher Education in 1975.