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Saudi Arabia

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Saudiyah

Last modified: 2003-01-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: saudi arabia | asia | shahada | sword | swords: 2 | royal flag | palmtree | civil flag | civil ensign | anchor (white) |
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[Saudi Arabia]by António Martins

Flag adopted 15 March 1973, coat of arms adopted 1950
Proportion: 2:3
Description: Green flag with a white shahada and sword. The hoist of the flag shown above should be at the viewer's right, as it is the case for all flags featuring Arabic writings (which read from right to left).
Use: on land, state and war flag, at sea, state and war ensign.

Colour approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons [pay00]):

  • Green: Pantone 330 c / CMYK (%) C 100 - M 0 - Y 50 - K 50
  • Blue: Pantone Reflex Blue c / CMYK (%) C 100 - M 70 - Y 0 - K 5

On this page:

See also:

The reverse side of the flag

Reverse side of the national flagby António Martins

In Saudi Arabia, a small cutout of the shahada is separately manufactured and applied on the "reverse" of the flag. So, what you have is a flag with hoist on right, the sword hilt toward the hoist and the shahada on right, the sword hilt toward the hoist and the shahada reading out properly from the hoist. The "reverse" (hoist on the left) has the sword with hilt to left, pointing away from the hoist, and the sewn-on shahada reading inward from the fly toward the hoist.

Ed Haynes, 7 August 1996

Vertical version of the flag

[Vertical Saudi Arabian flag]by António Martins

Actually, the official Saudi hanging flag reads correctly and has the sword underneath the shahada, just like on the flag. In other words, take a Saudi flag and make it longer than wide with the heading at the top and you would have it.

Dave Martucci, 2 February 1998

Consider the citation from page 47 of Znamierowski [zna99]:
"Indeed, at least four countries, namely Brazil, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka, explicity forbid vertical display of their national flags."
If so, we can ask what this vertical flag is? Indeed, there is a tendency of vertical hositing of flags recently, especially on big international events like Olympic games, and in several such occasions the vertical SA flag was surely used. Is it the official design, officialized recently just for that reason, or is that "only" an unofficial redention of the Saudi Arabia flag made by foreign flagmakers, as a way to display the text rightly? That is, is this official design, the de facto flag or simply an erroneous design that might have been used somewhere?

Zeljko Heimer, 7 June 2000

I have the idea that the Saudi law prohibts the vertical hoisting of the normal flag, because the writing would become illegible. Maybe the design with the writing set horizontally across the middle of a vertical flag is done not in spite of this legal provision, but because of it.

António Martins, 8 June 2000

I am not sure that the religion prohibits the writings from Quran to be written vertically. If I am not wrong, the inscriptions, in various ornamentical forms are used throughout the Muslim world as a very developed form of art, and scriptural ornaments are to be found in many places.
So, if there is a ban of vertical hoisting of the Saudi flag (and it seems there is), that would be for other reasons - first due to the design that is not suitable for vertical hoisting, and second, and not quite unrelated with the first, due to the apparent tradition of "horizontal-only" hoisting of flags in Arabic peninsula.
Comparably, there are bans of vertical hoisting in Pakistan and Sri Lanka as mentioned above. These flags are not to be hoisted vertically for the same reasons as mentioned above, and not due to religious reasons. Other flags of the same part of the world are rarely, if ever seen used vertically hoisted in their own countries - and without any religious reason behind it, and even without the "designwise" problems.

Zeljko Heimer, 10 June 2000

Use of the shahada on the flag

The inclusion of sacred Islamic Text on the flag of Saudi Arabia has created problems when the flag is reproduced on souvenir items or as a throw-away handwaver. An example of this problem occurred when Muslims complained of the flag appearing on World Cup footballs. I recall that one solution was to reproduce the flag with only the sword, deleting the text. However I cannot locate any source for this approach. Does anyone know if this or of any other approach to including Saudi Arabia in a flag display without giving offence to devout Muslims? If the sword only is used, is it centred?

Ralph Kelly, 12 December 1998

Civil flag

Saudi Arabia flag is only allowed for official purpose. Private citizens can flow a plain green flag with a golden palm tree over two crossed swords in the upper fly corner.

Armand du Payrat, 28 June 2002

We have a World Cup promotion poster in Japan which shows 32 national people with their national flag paintings on face. Only Saudi Arabia does not use the national flag but a green flag charged with yellow palm above two crossed swords.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 28 June 2002

Civil ensign

[Civil ensign]by António Martins

Editor's note: The hoist of the above flag should be at the viewer's right, as it is the case for the national flag of Saudi Arabia and the other flags featuring Arabic writings (which read from right to left).

Former civil ensign

[Former civil ensign]by António Martins

Apparently in 1961 the Saudi civil ensign was a green equilateral triangle bearing the two swords in the centre and a foul anchor in the upper hoist.

Roy Stilling, 25 April 1996

The triangular ensign is still shown as the Saudi Merchant flag in 1975 by Smith [smi75b]. However, in the 1993 Shipmate flag chart, the rectangular ensign is shown. The Flags of all Nations chart [man36] shows the "new" rectangular civil ensign, so this is confirmation of the design.

Nick Artimovich, 29 April 1996

Royal standard

[Saudi Arabian royal ensign]by António Martins & Ivan Sarajcic