The one minute summary on
This is it: one minute to the best info on Saudi Arabia. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Saudi Arabia, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.
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. King ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz ascended to the throne in 2005. 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 the liberation of Kuwait 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 on-going campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. King ABDALLAH since 2005 has worked to incrementally modernize the Kingdom – driven by personal ideology and political pragmatism – through a series of social and economic initiatives, including expanding employment and social opportunities for women, attracting foreign investment, increasing the role of the private sector in the economy, and discouraging businesses from hiring foreign workers.
The Arab Spring inspired protests – increasing in number since 2011 but usually small in size – over primarily domestic issues among Saudi Arabia’s majority Sunni population. Riyadh has taken a cautious but firm approach by arresting some protesters but releasing most of them quickly, and by using its state-sponsored clerics to counter political and Islamist activism. In addition, Saudi Arabia has seen protests among the Shia populace in the Eastern Province, who have protested primarily against the detention of political prisoners, endemic discrimination, and Bahraini and Saudi Government actions in Bahrain.
Protests are met by a strong police presence, with some arrests, but not the level of bloodshed seen in protests elsewhere in the region. In response to the unrest, King ABDALLAH in February and March 2011 announced a series of benefits to Saudi citizens including funds to build affordable housing, salary increases for government workers, and unemployment entitlements. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide in September 2011 for half the members of 285 municipal councils – a body that holds little influence in the Saudi Government. Also in September, the king announced that women will be allowed to run for and vote in future municipal elections – first held in 2005 – and serve as full members of the advisory Consultative Council.
The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds about 17% of the world’s proven oil reserves. 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. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are ongoing governmental concerns.
That was it. I promised one minute.
For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.
- Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in Saudi Arabia
- Does my current phone work in Saudi Arabia ? Tips to cell phone usage in Saudi Arabia
- Local food you should try in Saudi Arabia and No miss drinks in Saudi Arabia
Now, cheers to the most Saudi Arabia aware person at the cocktail party.
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The one minute summary for Saudi Arabia geography
Saudi Arabia covers approximately four fifths of the area of the Arabian Peninsula, which can be described as a rectangular plateau gradually sloping eastwards till reaching sea level at the Persian Gulf. The main topographical features are as follows: The Sarawat or Sarat mountain range runs parallel to the Red Sea coast beginning near the Jordanian border until the southern coast of Yemen, gradually increasing in height southwards. It is largely made up of barren volcanic rock, especially in the south, and sandstone in the north, but it is also interspersed with ancient lava fields and fertile valleys. As one moves further south towards Yemen, the barren landscape gradually gives way to green mountains and even woodlands, the result of being in the range of the monsoons.
In Saudi Arabia, the range is commonly known as the Hejaz, though the southernmost part of the range is known as ‘Aseer. In the foothills of the Hejaz lies the holy city of Mecca, and approximately 400km north of Mecca in an oasis between two large lava fields lies the other holy city of Medina. West of the Sarawat or Hejaz mountain range is a narrow coastal plain known as Tihama, in which the country’s second largest city, Jidda, is located. East of the Hejaz lies the elevated plateau known as Najd, a sparsely populated area of desert steppe dotted with small volcanic mountains.
To the east of Najd-proper lies the Tuwaig escarpment, a narrow platau running 800km from north to south. Its top layer is made of limestone and bottom layer of sandstone. Historically rich in fresh groundwater and criss-crossed with numerous dry riverbeds (wadis), the Tuwaig range and its immediate vicinity are dotted with a constellation of towns and villages. In the middle, nestled between a group of wadis, is the capital city, Ar-Riyadh. Further east from the Tuwaig plataeu and parallel to it is a narrow (20-100km) corridor of red sand dunes known as the Dahana desert, which separates the “Central Region” or “Najd” from the Eastern Province. The heavy presence of iron oxides gives the sand its distinctive red appearance. The Dahana desert connects two large “seas” of sand dunes.
The northern one is known as the Nufuud, approximately the size of Lake Superior, and the southern is known as “the Empty Quarter,” so-called because it covers a quarter of the area of the Peninsula. Though essentially uninhabitable, the edges of these three “seas of sand” make for excellent pastures in the spring season, but even the bedouin almost never attempted to cross the Empty Quarter. North of the Nufud desert lies a vaste desert steppe, traditionally populated mainly by nomadic bedouins with the exception of a few oasis such as Al-Jof. This region is an extension of the Iraqi and Syrian deserts (or vice versa).
After a rainy season, these barren, rocky steppes can yield lush meadows and rich pastures. The eastern province is largely barren except that it contains two oases resulting from springs of ancient fossil water. These are the oases of Al-Qateef on the Gulf coast and Al-Hasa (or Al-Ahsa) further inland. Next to Qatif lies the modern metropolitan area of Dammam, Dhahran and Al-Khobar. Elevation extremes lowest point: Persian Gulf 0m (0 ft) highest point: Jabal Sawda’ 3,133m (10,279 ft) Natural resources petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper Land use arable land: 1.72% permanent crops: 0.06% other: 98.22% (1998 est.)
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