About Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia means different things to different people. For millions of followers of Islam across the world, it is the ultimate Holy Land and pilgrimage destination. For a large number of expatriates from Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, Australia and a number of nearby Arabic speaking nations in the Middle East/North African region, especially Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, it is a land of opportunities. For the rest of the world, Saudi Arabia means oil – the lifeline of present and future economies. Saudi Arabia has so far lived up to all these definitions, and is now entering a new phase of its development.

On September 23, 1932, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud laid the foundation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Large reserves of oil were discovered soon after, and within a span of six years, commercial production of oil began. The fortune of Saudi Arabia changed forever and the Kingdom rapidly moved on the path of a modern industrial state. Today, Saudi Arabia holds a 25% share of the total Arab GDP and is the world’s 25th largest exporter/importer, with a foreign trade of US $78 billion. In all these years, the Kingdom has displayed remarkable political and economic stability.

History of Saudi Arabia

The Arabian peninsula has supported agricultural, herding, and hunting cultures for thousands of years. Living on important ancient trade routes, the ancestors of the Saudi Arabians were touched by diverse civilizations, including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, India, Persia, and China.

The Qur'an (Koran), the holy book of Islam, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the western Arabian cities of Makkah (Mecca) and Madinah (Medina) beginning about 610 A.D. The birth of the new faith of Islam was one of the most momentous events in history. Inspired by Islam, the Arabs expanded out of Arabia spreading Islam and the Arabic language. Their vast empire soon stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to central Asia in the east, embracing today's southern Italy, Spain, and parts of France.

The Muslim Arab civilization remained vigorous for centuries, providing stability and advancing human knowledge while Western civilization was in eclipse during the Middle Ages. The Arabs made extensive and original contributions to chemistry, physics, optics, astronomy, medicine, mathematics, literature, and philosophy. They invented algebra, whose name derives from an Arabic word. They also transmitted the number system, called Arabic numerals, to the West.

In the 13th century, the Mongol invasions dealt a devastating blow to the Arabs' eastern lands, and their empire began to decline. The history of modern Saudi Arabia begins with Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, known in the West as Ibn Saud. The Al-Saud family had reigned over much of Arabia in the early 19th century. It lost part of its territory to the Turks later in the century, however, and was driven from its capital, Riyadh, by the rival House of Rashid. In 1902 Abdul Aziz recaptured the city and began to reconquer and reunify the country, which he completed some three decades later. In 1927, Abdul Aziz was officially proclaimed king, and the country was named the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. From the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in 1938, rapid economic development and rising prominence in world affairs have dominated the most recent chapter of Saudi Arabia's history.

Geography of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, with an area of about 865,000 square miles, occupies the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. It is roughly one-third the size of the continental United States, and the same size as all of Western Europe.

Saudi Arabia lies at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. It extends from the Red Sea on the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east. To the north it borders on Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait, and to the south, on Yemen and the Sultanate of Oman. To the east lie the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the island state of Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia's terrain is varied, but on the whole fairly barren and harsh with salt flats, gravel plains, and sand dunes, but few lakes or permanent streams. In the south is the Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest sand desert in the world. In the southwest, the mountain ranges of Asir Province rise to over 9,000 feet. 




Cities of Saudi Arabia

Abha                   Largest city in Asir Province

Al-Khobar           Commercial center adjacent to Dhahran

Buraydah            Largest city in Qasim Province

Dammam           Port city and commercial center

Dhahran             Oil industry center and metropolitan area

Hafr Al Batin      Home of King Khalid Military City

Hail                    Important trading center in the north

Jeddah               Port city and entry point for pilgrims

Jubayl                Industrial city on the east coast

Madinah            Holy city and burial place of the Prophet Muhammad

Makkah             Holiest city of Islam, toward which Muslims pray

Riyadh               Capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Tabuk                 Large city near the Jordan border

Taif                    Summer capital and mountain resort

Yanbu                Oil shipping terminal and industrial city on the west coast

Climate of Saudi Arabia

From June through August, midday temperatures in the desert can soar to 50 C (122 F). Humidity in the coastal regions may approach 100 percent at times. In contrast, weather in other areas of the country may be mild throughout the year. Winter temperatures in the northern and central regions may drop to below freezing. The shamal, sand-laden winds from the northern deserts, is most frequent in early summer and can blow for days at 25-30 miles an hour. Rainfall ranges from none at all for up to 10 years in the Rub al-Khali, to 20 inches a year in the mountains of Asir Province.


Medical technology is continuously being upgraded in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has its own facilities to train doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, and Saudi Arabians rarely travel abroad to get specialized medical treatment. These services now extend to the most remote communities in the country. The private sector, which makes a vital contribution to health services, has expanded over the past several decades. It operates thousands of healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, pharmacies, medical laboratories, radiology centers and other facilities across the country making high-quality, affordable healthcare readily available to all. Medical insurance schemes are available at reasonable cost.

Major hospitals provide a comprehensive range of sophisticated services including open-heart surgery, kidney transplants and cancer therapy. Saudi Arabia has one of the world's largest and best-equipped eye hospitals, the King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital, and one of the largest medical facilities in the Middle East, the King Fahd Medical City in Riyadh.  Shown here, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, a 985-bed tertiary/quaternary care and referral hospital based in Riyadh, has attained international recognition as a premier medical, teaching and research center.  


Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications sector is growing at a remarkable rate. Facilities and services are constantly being expanded and upgraded to accommodate the Kingdom’s growing market. Currently three telecom operators provide competitive mobile phone services covering the entire country. Saudi Arabia’s mobile telephones operate on the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), one of the leading digital cellular systems used all over the world. All three GSM-based operators have either launched LTE (advanced 4th generation ‘long-term evolution’) networks or awarded contracts to do so, underpinning a future growth path centered on mobile broadband services and applications. The Kingdom’s landline telephone system is modern and efficient, using extensive microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable systems.  Seven standard earth stations link up with the Intelsat Satellite System.

Internet usage is growing rapidly in Saudi Arabia. More and more fiber optic lines are being provisioned to provide broadband and high-speed Wi-Fi Internet access in all major cities.  Several telecom operators are offering fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity with fast and high-quality Internet browsing and data downloading at competitive prices.

Religion of Saudi Arabia

Islam is one of the world's great monotheistic religions. The followers of Islam, called Muslims, believe in one God (Allah in Arabic) and that Muhammad is His Prophet. Today, the worldwide community of Muslims, which embraces the people of many races and cultures, numbers nearly 1.5 billion.

Historically, Saudi Arabia has occupied a special place in the Islamic world as the very heartland of Islam. Indeed, it is toward the sacred Ka'abah in Makkah that Muslims turn devoutly in prayer five times a day. The Qur'an, the sacred scripture of Islam, was revealed and is universally recited in Arabic.

A Muslim has five obligations, called the Five Pillars of Islam. First is the profession of faith: "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God." Second is praying five times a day, facing the holy city of Makkah. Third is zakat (alms giving), which prescribes payment of fixed proportions of a Muslim's possessions for the welfare of the entire community and, in particular, for its neediest members. Fourth is fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, at which time Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset. The fifth pillar is performing the hajj, or pilgrimage, to Makkah at least once in a lifetime. The hajj is a gathering of millions of Muslims from around the world.

The Kingdom continues to dedicate considerable financial and human resources to enable even more pilgrims to perform the hajj in comfort and safety. To Saudi Arabia, the holy cities of Makkah, the birthplace of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and Madinah, the Prophet's burial place, are a sacred trust exercised on behalf of all Muslims. Recognizing the unique and historic tradition these holy sites represent, King Fahd adopted the official title of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques as an expression of his deep sense of responsibility toward Islam.


Arabian Careers Limited

Al-Masjid al-Haram – Destination in Makkah for millions of Hajis

Kingdom Center -- Landmark building in Riyadh, the Capital City

The Rub al-Khali

Asir Province