Saudi Arabia Facts

Saudi Arabia Facts and History


Saudi Arabia – Guardian of the Holy Places of Islam

Al-Mamlaka al-arabia as-Saudia – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – is known to most people primarily as the land of oil. At the beginning of 2011, the country produced over 9 million barrels (1 barrel = 158.987 liters) of crude oil per day. At a price of 100 US dollars per barrel, for example, this equates to daily income of around 900 million dollars.

Saudi Arabia is located on the Arabian Peninsula between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf and has an area of 2,149,690 km² only about 27 million residents. The country is an absolutist monarchy with the strictest form of Islam – Wahhabism – as the state religion. In the country are with Mecca and Medina, the most important shrines of Islam, the king is why the title Guardian carries the Holy Places.

Makkah or Mecca is the holiest place of Islam thanks to the holy mosque Al-Masjid al-Haram with its seven minarets and the holy Ka’bah inside. The annual pilgrimage to Makkah is one of the cornerstones (arcane) of Islam, along with the profession of faith, giving alms, prayer (five times a day) and the celebration of the fasting month of Ramadan. Hajj is prescribed and should at least once in the life of a Muslim who is financially and physically able to do so.

The flag of Saudi Arabia dates from 1932, when Abdulasis al-Saud united the country within the borders that still exist today. The current king, Abdullah ibn Abd al-Asis, is the half-brother of King Fahd bin Abd al-Asis, who died in 2005.

A particular curiosity is the fact that women are not allowed to drive in the country and cannot travel abroad without an escort or permission. In order not to offer even the slightest possibility for women and men to meet, dog walking was banned in July 2008 as it can lead to undesirable contact between men and women. The moral police control the ban and adamantly punish violations!

Name of the country Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Form of government Islamic monarchy
Geographical location Middle East (Arabian Peninsula)
National anthem “Aash Al Maleek” (Long Live the King)
Population approx. 30 million (Credit: Countryaah: Saudi Arabia Population)
Ethnicities approx. 73% Saudisapprox. 27% foreigners
Religions approx. 98% Muslims (Wahhabism is the state religion)in the Eastern Province there are approx. 10% Shiites
Languages The official language is Arabic.English is also widely used as a business language
Capital Riyadh with approx. 7 million residents
Surface 2,149,690 km²
Highest mountain Jabal Sawdâ, with a height of 3,133 m.
Longest river There are no rivers in Saudi Arabia.
Largest lake in area There are no lakes in Saudi Arabia.
International license plate KSA
National currency 1 Saudi Arabian riyal = 100 halalah
Time difference to CET + 2 h
International phone code 00966
Mains voltage, frequency 110/220 volts and 60 Hertz, adapter required
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .sa

Saudi Arabia: History

Before the year 1000

In the pre-Islamic period, the area of the Arabian Peninsula was more of a steppe than a desert, which made nomadic grazing possible. The area is considered the original home of the Semite language group. From there migrated from about 2800 BC. The Akkadians (from which the Assyrians and Babylonians descended), from 2000 BC The Eastern Semites (Amurrites or Canaanites, the ancestors of the Hebrews) and from 1400 BC The Arameans to the north.

From the year 1000 to the 17th century

According to Abbreviationfinder website, in the period that followed, Bedouin tribes (desert nomads) established various Arab kingdoms. These include the Nabataeans from northwestern Arabia, the Ghassanids, who migrated north from southern Arabia in the 3rd century and became vassals of the Byzantine province of Syria in the 6th century, the Lachmids, whose north Arab empire also expanded between the years 500 and 600 Parts of central Arabia included and the Kinda, who emigrated from the south in the 5th century and founded an important tribal federation in central Arabia in the 6th century.

Even then, important trade caravans were moving from south to north towards Syria and Mesopotamia, mainly transporting frankincense, myrrh and spices.

The Prophet Muhammad founded Islam in the 7th century. This enabled him to achieve the unification of the Arab tribes between 622 and 632 and trigger a wave of spreading Islam that was successfully continued by his successors. In the course of these conquests, the Arab Empire expanded by the 8th century, from Andalusia to India and Central Asia. After the capital was moved to Damascus or Baghdad, however, Arabia lost its importance again. Only Mecca and Medina in Hejaz continued to be the central shrines of the Islamic world.

In the 18th and 19th centuries

In 1745, the Imam Mohammed bin Saud began expanding his sheikdom, which was located in the Diriya oasis near Riyadh. He allied himself with the religious reformer Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul-Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabism, a pietist movement in Sunni Islam. By uniting the Bedouin tribes, both managed to take control of the central part of the country and the eastern province on the Arabian Gulf by the end of the 18th century. In 1803 they took the Holy City of Mecca.

In 1817, Egyptian troops under the Ottoman viceroy Muhammad Ali conquered the first Saudi state and destroyed Diriya.

Only seven years later, however, they were expelled from Riyadh by the Bedouins under the son of Imam Mohammed bin Saud, Turki bin Abdullah bin Saud. In the period that followed, the Saudis succeeded in regaining a large part of their former areas of power. In 1891, the Al-Rashîd tribe from Hail, subordinate to the Ottomans, came to power and drove the Al-Saud family away, who fled to Kuwait.

In the 20th century

In 1902, the then 21-year-old Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud (“Ibn Saud”) recaptured the fortress of Riyadh and, with the help of Wahhabi fundamentalism, began his jihad campaigns to regain the empire of his ancestors. In 1925 he defeated the Hashemite dynasty, whose ancestral kingdom Hejaz included the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. On September 23, 1932, “Ibn Saud” proclaimed the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” within its present borders.

During the Second World War, the king permitted the establishment of a US air force base on Saudi Arabian territory. In 1945 the Arab League was founded. As a member, Saudi Arabia took part in the Palestine War in 1948, which was supposed to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel. During this time the country became the most important oil supplier in the world. Most of the nomadic population until then became settled.

King “Ibn Saud” died in 1953 at the age of 73 and his sons successively succeeded him:

King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (1953-1964)

King Faisal bin Abdulaziz (1964-1975)

King Khaled bin Abdulaziz (1975-1982)

King Fahd bin Abdulaziz (1982-2005)

King Abdallah bin Abdulaziz (since August 1, 2005).

In 1960, Saudi Arabia was one of the founding states of OPEC. In 1963 slavery was abolished. Instead, the country took in guest workers from South Asia and Africa, who have retained their important role in the economy to this day. During the 1960s and 1970s there were repeated border disputes with Yemen, which were ended by a peace treaty in 1976.

In the 1st Gulf War, Saudi Arabia allied itself with the USA and bore almost 40% of the war costs. The stationing of American troops in the country, however, led to increasing resistance by fundamentalist circles against the royal family, as a result of which there were also terrorist attacks on Western institutions. The government responded with increasing pressure on the opposition.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, it emerged that 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi nationals. This led to a significant cooling of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the USA.

During the 2nd Gulf War, in 2003, the US was denied the use of its military bases located on Saudi territory, so that the headquarters of the US troops were relocated to Qatar.

Saudi Arabia Facts