DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia is moving closer to changing its national song and green flag, which has a sword and is engraved with Islam’s creed as the faith’s birthplace.
The kingdom’s unelected consultative Shura Council voted in support of revisions late Monday, according to state-run media. It comes as Saudi Arabia’s youthful crown prince highlights the country’s identity and pride. While the council’s judgments have no effect on existing laws or structures, the vote is crucial since the council’s members are nominated by the king, and their decisions frequently follow the king’s lead.
According to other state-affiliated media, the reforms support changing the system that governs the flag, slogan, and national anthem, but not its content. The council has not provided any additional information.
The proposed reforms, according to local media reports, aim to more clearly identify the proper uses of the state insignia, promote awareness about the flag and anthem’s importance, and preserve the flag from infringement or neglect.
Last Monday, Saudi authorities arrested four Bangladeshi men for allegedly trashing the Saudi flag, which bears the Islamic doctrine.
Only a draught revision to a nearly 50-year-old royal edict governing the flag was approved by the Shura Council, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Saad al-Otaibi, a council member, presented the modification, which was considered by a subcommitte before being discussed by the full council.
The suggestion comes as the country, which was long ultra-conservative, undergoes fast reforms. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been working to reinvent Saudi identity, replacing pan-Islamism with a national-cultural identity that is not simply determined by religion, with the support of his octogenarian father, King Salman.
One recent example is a royal edict designating February 22 as Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day. The national holiday commemorates Imam Muhammad bin Saud’s attempt in the 18th century to build the first Saudi state before it was defeated by the Ottomans. Also this week, the Saudi government ordered that “Arabic coffee” be renamed “Saudi coffee” in a new effort to promote awareness about a “cultural aspect that expresses the Saudi identity” and its traditions, according to state media.
Since 1973, the green Saudi flag has contained a white Arabic calligraphy Islamic confession of faith that reads, “There is no deity but Allah; Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.” A sword is hidden beneath those words. In Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, where the Prophet Muhammad was born and received the first commands of the Quran, the monarchy welcomes Muslim pilgrims from all over the world.
In the absence of a free press, state-controlled media outlets offered additional details on the Shura Council’s proposal for flag and anthem codes, which will be presented to King Salman for approval. According to organisations such as Reporters Without Borders, there is no local independent media in Saudi Arabia, and repression has increased under the crown prince.
According to the daily Ashraq Al-Awsat and the Sabq news site, the concept arose as a result of the kingdom’s recent rapid changes. Changes to current legislation are among them, as are new measures to support the aims and aspirations of Vision 2030, the crown prince’s ambitious national project to reform the Saudi economy and make it more robust in the face of fluctuating oil prices and sustainable energy.