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Adopted on March 15, 1973, the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a white Arabic inscription and a sword on a green field.

The Arabic inscription is that of the Shahada, the Islamic profession of faith. The Green in the flag is the colour widely used to represent Islam.

The sword below the inscription is thought to be the symbol of Ibn Saud, the ‘founder’ of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many believe the sword points to the left to indicate how the Shahada is to be read – from right to left.

The flag is rectangular in shape and is in the proportion of 2:3.

Since the Shahada is holy, the Saudi Arabian flag is never printed on T-shirts or any other objects that can cause it disrespect. Even the flag, when flown, has the inscription and the sword from the right to left on either side. Because of the holiness of the inscription, the flag is never flown at half-mast. Doing so is considered disrespectful. The Saudi legislation also prohibits the vertical hoisting of the flag.

In 2002, FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) requested the Saudi government to allow it to print the flag on the soccer ball, like that of other countries, for the World Cup. However, their request was instantly denied because it would mean kicking the holy creed.

History

During the spread of Islam, there were no flags. However, in later years, several flags associated with Muslim military campaigns became the basis for Arab flags. The religious inscriptions used in these flags became popular with the Arabs.

In the late 18th century, during the campaign to unify the Arabian peninsula, green became a colour that was widely used by the Wahhabi, a strict religious sect. King Ibn Saud, who spearheaded the fight for unification, followed the pattern of the Wahhabi. His success on the battlefield led to the establishment of Wahhabi- dominated governments in the governments of Najd (formerly Ibn Saud’s seat of power) and Al-Hasa. Then, after the capture of the Kingdom of Hejaz and Asir post World War I, Ibn Saud completed the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and made the flag with the white Shahada and sword on a green field as the national flag in 1932.

The 1932 version had most of the script filling the flag, with a curved sword. On March 15, 1973, a new design was adopted with the inscription becoming smaller and the sword becoming straight.

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