JEDDAH: Born in Makkah in 1926, Saudi poet Ibrahim Khafaji is famous for writing the lyrics of the Saudi national anthem in 1984. Before that date, it was music without lyrics.
He wrote and composed several national and lyrical poems that were sung by prominent artists throughout Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, such as Sabah, Talal Maddah, and Mohammad Abdu.
Khafaji served in several jobs in the public sector. He worked in the news section of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, then moved to the radio section. He also worked at the accounting department in the Ministry of Health. He later became head of the department and then the financial administration secretary.
Eventually he became the central inspector of the Ministry of Agriculture in the western region.
Khafaji said in an interview on Rotana channel that the story behind the Saudi national anthem goes back to when King Khalid was on a visit to Egypt and was received by President Anwar Sadat. King Khalid was impressed with the Egyptian national anthem and asked the officials to work on lyrics for the national anthem of Saudi Arabia which was composed by the Egyptian composer Abdul-Rahman Al-Khateeb, and gifted to Saudi Arabia upon the orders of King Farouq of Egypt.
Kafaji was chosen as the Saudi poet to work on the national anthem lyrics. He worked on it for six months.
The Saudi public was first introduced to the national anthem lyrics on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr in 1984. It was broadcast by the Kingdom’s radio and television during King Fahd’s time.
Khafaji died at 91 in November 2017 and he was buried in Makkah.