Saudi Arabia (GPS: 25 00 N, 45 00 E) is located in Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen. The country’s area measurements are total: 2,149,690 sq km; land: 2,149,690 sq km, water: 0 sq km. This sovereign state is slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US. The total irrigated land is 16,200 sq km (2012).
One of the critical features of Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river. Extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea allow for considerable shipping (especially crude oil) through the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Riyadh’s GPS coordinates are 24 39 N 46 42 E. Riyadh’s local time is 8 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+3.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam’s two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king’s official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman Al SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. One of his male descendants rules the country today, as required by the country’s 1992 Basic Law. Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year.
The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after Kuwait’s liberation became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong ongoing campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. US troops returned to the Kingdom in October 2019 after attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure. From 2005 to 2015, King ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud incrementally modernized the Kingdom. Driven by personal ideology and political pragmatism, he introduced a series of social and economic initiatives, including expanding employment and social opportunities for women, attracting foreign investment, increasing the private sector’s role in the economy, and discouraging businesses from hiring foreign workers. These reforms have accelerated under King SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz, who ascended to the throne in 2015 and has since lifted the Kingdom’s ban on women driving and allowed cinemas to operate for the first time in decades. Saudi Arabia saw some protests during the 2011 Arab Spring but not the bloodshed level was seen in protests elsewhere in the region. Shia Muslims in the Eastern Province protested primarily against the detention of political prisoners, endemic discrimination, and Bahraini and Saudi Government actions in Bahrain.
Riyadh took a cautious but firm approach by arresting some protesters but releasing most of them quickly and using state-sponsored clerics to counter political and Islamist activism. The government held its first-ever elections in 2005 and 2011 when Saudis went to the polls to elect municipal councilors. In December 2015, women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates for the first time in municipal council elections, with 19 women winning seats. After King SALMAN ascended to the throne in 2015, he placed the first next-generation prince, MUHAMMAD BIN NAYIF bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, in succession Crown Prince. He designated his son, MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, as the Deputy Crown Prince. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of 10 countries in a military campaign to restore Yemen’s legitimate government, which had been ousted by Huthi forces allied with former president ALI ABDULLAH al-Salih. The war in Yemen has drawn international criticism for civilian casualties and its effect on the country’s dire humanitarian situation. In December 2015, then-Deputy Crown Prince MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced Saudi Arabia would lead a 34-nation Islamic Coalition to fight terrorism (it has since grown to 41 nations).
In May 2017, Saudi Arabia inaugurated the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology (also known as “Etidal”) to counter violent extremism. In June 2017, King SALMAN elevated MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN to Crown Prince. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds about 16% of the world’s proven oil reserves as of 2015. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia’s accession to the WTO in 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the Kingdom. In April 2016, the Saudi Government announced a broad set of socio-economic reforms, known as Vision 2030. Low global oil prices throughout 2015 and 2016 significantly lowered Saudi Arabia’s governmental revenue. In response, the government cut subsidies on water, electricity, and gasoline; Reduced government employee compensation packages; And announced limited new land taxes. In coordination with OPEC and some key non-OPEC countries, Saudi Arabia agreed to cut oil output in early 2017 to regulate supply and elevate global prices.
Saudi Arabia’s names conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, traditional short form: Saudi Arabia, local long way: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah, local transient state: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah, etymology: named after the ruling dynasty of the country, the House of Saud; the name “Arabia” can be traced back many centuries B.C., the ancient Egyptians referred to the region as “Ar-Rabi.” Named after the country’s ruling dynasty, the House of Saud, The Name “Arabia” may be traced back many centuries B.C. The ancient Egyptians referred to the region as “Ar-Rabi.”
Saudi Arabia’s terrain is typically mostly sandy desert. The country’s mean elevation: 665 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m, highest point: Jabal Sawda’ 3,133 m.
The general climate in the country; harsh, desert with great temperature extremes.
The total number of border countries is 7, Iraq 811 km, Jordan 731 km, Kuwait 221 km, Oman 658 km, Qatar 87 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,307 km are the neighboring nations indicated border lengths. Saudi Arabia’s coastline is 2,640 km, while its marital claims are: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles, contiguous zone: 18 nautical miles, continental shelf: not specified. Waterways: N/A. Land use: agricultural land: 80.7%; arable land 1.5%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 79.1%; forest: 0.5%; other: 18.8% (2011 estimate).
The population in Saudi Arabia 33,091,113 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 83.1% of total population (2015), central metropolitan area’s population: RIYADH (capital) 6.195 million; Jeddah 4.076 million; Mecca 1.771 million; Medina 1.28 million; Ad Dammam 1.064 million (2015), while Saudi Arabia has historically a population that was mostly nomadic or semi-nomadic, the Saudi population has become more settled since petroleum was discovered in the 1930s; most of the economic activities – and with it, the country’s population – are concentrated in a wide area across the middle of the peninsula, from Ad Dammam in the east, through Riyadh in the interior, to Mecca-Medina in the west near the Red Sea. Their spoken languages are Arabic (official language).
The main religions in Saudi Arabia are Muslim (official; citizens are 85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shia), others (includes Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh) (2012 estimate). Note: despite having a large expatriate community of various faiths (more than 30% of the population), most forms of public religious expression inconsistent with the government-sanctioned interpretation of Sunni Islam are restricted; non-Muslims are not allowed to have Saudi citizenship, and non-Muslim places of worship are not permitted (2013). The nation uses Islamic (sharia) legal system with some Egyptian, French, and customary law; note – several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees. It is a(n) absolute monarchy, National holiday(s) Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932).
Economic overview for the country: Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with healthy government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 16% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia is encouraging the private sector’s growth to diversify its economy and employ more Saudi nationals.
Approximately 6 million foreign workers play an essential role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors; At the same time, however, Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its nationals. Saudi officials are mainly focused on employing its large youth population. In 2017, the Kingdom incurred a budget deficit estimated at 8.3% of GDP, which was financed by bond sales and drawing down reserves. Although the Kingdom can finance high deficits for several years by drawing down its considerable foreign assets or borrowing, it has cut capital spending and reduced subsidies on electricity, water, and petroleum products and recently introduced a value-added tax of 5%. In January 2016, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced that Saudi Arabia intends to list shares of its state-owned petroleum company, ARAMCO – another move to increase revenue and outside investment.
The government has also looked at privatization and diversification of the economy more closely in the wake of a diminished oil market. Historically, Saudi Arabia has focused diversification efforts on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors. More recently, the government has approached investors about expanding the private sector’s role in the health care, education, and tourism industries. While Saudi Arabia has emphasized its diversification goals for some time, current low oil prices may force the government to make more drastic changes ahead of their long-run timeline.
Natural resources of Saudi Arabia: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper.
Main export partners for Saudi Arabia, Middle East are China 13.2%, Japan 10.9%, US 9.6%, India 9.6%, South Korea 8.5% (2015) for petroleum and petroleum products 90% (2012 estimate), while the main import partners for the country are: China 13.9%, US 12.7%, Germany 7.1%, South Korea 6.1%, India 4.5%, Japan 4.4%, UK 4.3% (2015) for machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles.
When you visit this country in the Middle East, consider the natural hazards in Saudi Arabia: Frequent sand and dust stormsvolcanism: despite many volcanic formations, there has been little activity in the past few centuries, volcanoes include Harrat Rahat, Harrat Khaybar, Harrat Lunayyir, and Jabal Yar, while infectious diseases are N/A. Also, note that Saudi Arabia faces the following environmental issues: Desertification, Depletion of underground water resources, The lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities, Coastal pollution from oil spills, Air pollution, waste management.