Saudi Arabia flags are displayed at Citywalk in Jumeirah, Dubai on the occasion of Saudi Arabia’s 87th National Day. Image Credit: Javed Nawab/ Gulf News

Dubai: A three-day mourning period was declared by number of countries in Arab region following the death of Omani Sultan Qaboos late on Friday.

Questions have been raised among activists on social media after it was apparent that though most Arab countries lowered their flags to half-mast along with the three days of mourning, Saudi Arabia did not lower its flag.

The question raised was this: Why did the Saudi flag not fly at half-mast, despite the fact Saudi Arabia had also declared the three days of mourning.

According to Article 13, Saudi flag law issued at the time of King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz, 'it is not permissible to lower the Kingdom's flag or the King's flag that carries Al Shahada'. 

What does this mean

Al Shahada in Islam is the Islamic testimony of faith in which a Muslim declares his Islam by saying "There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God.

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So by Saudi law, the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that carries the name of God and the Islamic testimony cannot be lowered. The punishment for breaking that law is a one year in jail and a fine of 3000 Saudi Riyals.

The national flag of the Kingdom has been in use since 1973. Its green color symbolises Islam, and the Arabic calligraphic script is the Islamic testimony, under which is the sword which stands for strictness in applying justice.

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Other flags

The 'flag of the King' or the civil ensign called Royal Standard of the King of Saudi Arabia is the one that is placed behind the king at all occasions. This flag or ensign is the same as the national flag but has two crossed golden swords, topped by a palm tree, embroidered in the lower corner with golden threads.

Iraq is another country that never lowers its flag, as the name of God is found on it also.

Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman, the Arab world's longest-serving ruler aged 79, passed way late on Friday night and was laid to rest on Saturday morning in the capital Muscat.