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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia desert landscape
Saudi Arabia's desert landscape. The vast Arabian Desert wilderness is stretching from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq.
Image: Peter Dowley

Location map of Saudi Arabia. Where in the world is Saudi Arabia?
Location map of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Flag
Flag of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia in brief

Destination Saudi Arabia, a Nations Online country profile of the desert country in Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, the original homeland of the Arabs, the place of origin of the Arabian language, and the historic center of Islam. Saudi Arabia is bounded by the Red Sea in the west and the Persian Gulf in the east. The country borders Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The country shares maritime borders with Bahrain, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, and Sudan.

Saudi Arabia is the largest state in Western Asia with an area of more than 2 million km²; it is almost four times the size of Metropolitan France or somewhat larger than Mexico.

The sparsely inhabited country has a population of 34.8 million inhabitants (in 2020), the capital and largest city is Riyadh, the spoken language is Arabic. Saudi Arabia is a country with a predominantly Muslim population; the state religion is Wahhabism, the ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam. 85–95% of Saudi Arabian citizens are Sunni Muslims, 10–15% are Shia. The country is home to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. The kingdom is ruled by the house of Saud along traditional Islamic lines.

Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer in the Middle East. The proven oil reserves in Saudi Arabia are the second largest in the world, estimated to be 266 billion barrels.

What is Saudi Arabia famous for?
Saudi Arabia is famous for oil, to be the origin of Islam, Arabian horses, the world's largest sand desert (Rub' Al Khali), the world's largest oasis (Al-Ahsa), Arabian coffee, oil, countless palaces, veiled women, countless mosques, Bedouins on horses, Bedouins on camels, Bedouins with falcons, sword-wielding dance moves, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, oil, the Kaaba at the center of the al-Haram mosque. And, Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river.

Saudi Arabia | Al-Arabiya as Saudiya

al-Mamlakah al-Arabiyah as-Saudiyah in arabic
 al-Mamlakah al-Arabiyah as-Saudiyah


In 1902 Abdul al-Aziz Ibn SAUD captured Riyadh and set out on a 30-year campaign to unify the Arabian peninsula. In the 1930s, oil discovery transformed the country from an underdeveloped tribal desert kingdom to one of the region's wealthiest nations.

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.

On the morning of the 1st of August, 2005, it was announced that King Fahd had died. Then Crown Prince Abdullah was affirmed as King, and Prince Sultan appointed Crown Prince. He was King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques from 2005 to his death in 2015.
His successor is Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the former Governor of Riyadh and now King of Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince is now Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), he serves as the country's deputy prime minister.

Saudi Arabia is a member state of the League of Arab States.


Country Profile

Official Name:
Al-Mamlaka al-Arabiya as-Saudiya
local short form: Al-Arabiya as Saudiya
int'l short form: Saudi Arabia
int'l long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

ISO Country Code: sa, SAU

Actual Time: Tue-June-18  00:04
Local Time = UTC +3h

Country Calling Code: +966

Capital: Riyadh (pop. 4.7 million) more


Official Sites of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Consultative Assembly, or Shura Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Consultative Assembly, or Shura Council, is the formal advisory body of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Image: Shura council

The political system of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and an Islamic theocracy. There are no political parties or national elections. The royal family dominates the political system. The King performs legislative, executive and judicial functions, he is chief of state and head of government. Since 1993 there is a quasi-legislative body, the Consultative Assembly (Majlis al-Shūrā), the formal advisory body of the kingdom. Islamic law (Sharīʿah) is the main source of legislation.

Official Sites of Saudi Arabia

Note: External links will open in a new browser window.

royal House of Saud
Saudi Royal Family Website. Latest News and Information on the Saudi Royals.

Saudi National Portal
The Unified National Platform for all Government services in the Kingdom.

Saudi Vision 2030
The agenda of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 is the strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil.

Majlis Al-Shura
The Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia.

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah
Official website of the ministry with comprehensive information about the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia website also provides information about Saudi Missions Abroad and foreign missions in the country.

Diplomatic Missions
Permanent Mission of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the UN
Saudi Arabia's representation to the United Nations.
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
London, UK
Saudi Arabia Royal Embassy
Washington, USA
Diplomatic Missions of Saudi Arabia
Diplomatic Missions of Saudi Arabia abroad.

General Authority for Statistics
National Statistical Office of Saudi Arabia.

 Saudi Arabia in Figures
Saudi Arabia key statistical data.

Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME)
Weather Forecast for Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh palace in Saudi Arabia
Prince Mohammed and his father, King Salman, are often found in "a network of marble-columned palaces and countryside retreats" in Riyadh.
Image: ActiveSteve



Maps of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Map
Map of Saudi Arabia (click the map to enlarge)
Image: ©


 Map of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Political Map of Saudi Arabia.

Google Earth Saudi Arabia Google Earth Saudi Arabia
Searchable map/satellite view of Saudi Arabia.
Google Earth Riyadh Google Earth Riyadh
Searchable map/satellite view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital.
Google Earth Mecca Google Earth Mecca (Makkah)
Searchable map/satellite view of Mecca, the holy city of Islam, where the Prophet Muhammad was born.

Map of the Arabian Peninsula
Political Map of the Arabian Peninsula.
Map of the Persian Gulf
Political Map of the Persian Gulf.
Map of the Red Sea
Political and topographic map of the Red Sea.
profile Map of Countries of Western Asia and the Middle East
Political map of the countries of Western Asia and the Middle East.
profile Map of Western Asia
Map of Western Asia and the Middle East region.
 Map of Northern Africa and the Middle East
Political Map of North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East.
profile Map of Asia
Reference Map of Asia.

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the Prophet's Mosque Medina, Saudi Arabia
Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, the Prophet's Mosque in Medina (Al Madinah), Saudi Arabia.
Image: Mardetanha 



News of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Newspapers

Saudi Arabia News

According to the BBC, Saudi investors are major players in the pan-Arab TV industry, but the country has one of the region's most tightly-controlled media environments.
RSF states that Saudi Arabia permits no independent media. The authorities keep Saudi journalists under close surveillance, even when they are abroad, as Jamal Khashoggi's murder in Istanbul in October 2018 illustrated.

Online News from Saudi Arabia

Official News Releases
Official News by the Ministry of Media.

Arabic language newspaper
A Jeddah daily newspaper and among the oldest in the country.
Al-Jazirah Corporation in Riyadh is a leading newspaper and magazine publisher in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Al-Madina is one of the oldest newspapers published in the kingdom.
A Riyadh daily newspaper.
Abha-based newspaper.
Asharq Al-Awsat
National and international news.
Saudi Arabian daily newspaper with headquarters in Jeddah.
Riyadh Daily
Internet Edition with national and international news.

Arab News
A Middle East's English Language Daily published in Riyadh.

Saudi Press Agency
The Kingdom's national wire-service responsible for
the collection and distribution of local, regional,
and international news in Saudi Arabia.

International Saudi Arabia News

Al Arabiya
Saudi television news channel based in Dubai.

Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera news related to Saudi Arabia.



Arts & Culture of Saudi Arabia

Arabic language and script Saudi Arabia
Arabia is the birthplace of the Arabic language. The origin of Arabic, one of the Semitic languages, is still a highly debated topic. Today, the language is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide and is one of the United Nations' six official working languages.
Image: Andrey Filippov

Arts & Culture

King Faisal Foundation
A global philanthropic organization inspired by Islamic values.

Ministry of Culture & Information
Official website of Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture and Information.

King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur'an
A Leading Islamic Establishment that Serves the Qur'an and Sunnah.

King Fahed National Library
Official website of the library (in Arabic).

The National Museum, Riyadh
The museum presents the rich history of the Arabian Peninsula and the eternal message of Islam.

Al-Hajj and Al-Omra (`Umrah)
Information on the Hajj Farewell Pilgrimage, Hajj, and Umrah rituals; the sacred Kaaba and the Prophet's mosque.

Arabian Rock Art Heritage
Explore rock art in the remote landscape of Saudi Arabia.

Traditional mud architecture in Najran, Saudi Arabia
Traditional mud architecture in Najran, a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen.
Image: Richard Mortel 



Business & Economy of Saudi Arabia

Central Business District of Riyadh with Al Faisaliyah Center, Olaya Towers, and the Kingdom Centre, Saudi Arabia
The Central Business District of Riyadh with Al Faisaliyah Center, Olaya Towers, and the Kingdom Centre. The capital, the largest city, and the economic powerhouse of Saudi Arabia, is surrounded by the an-Nafud desert.
Image: Richard Mortel 

Saudi Arabia's economy
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. According to the Saudi government, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the world's leading oil-exporting country. It is estimated that the country has between 16% and 22% of the world's known oil reserves, but a growing population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are major governmental concerns. And this is where Saudi Vision 2030 comes into play, a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, to diversify its economy, and develop the public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

Saudi Vision 2030
No less than 96 strategic goals are to be achieved with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which is why the kingdom's Council for Economic and Development Affairs has established 13 programs to realize the ambitious vision.

Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Official ministry website. The ministry is responsible for the commerce and investment sectors in the kingdom.

Council of Saudi Chambers
The Council of Saudi Chambers is the umbrella and only legitimate representative of the Saudi business community.

Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp.
Al Rajhi Bank, with its headquarters in Riyadh, is the world's largest Islamic bank by capital.
National Commercial Bank
NBC (or AlAhli) was the first Saudi bank. Today, it is one of the Arab world's largest financial institutions; its head office is in Jeddah.
Riyad Bank
The Riyad Bank is a major financial institution in Saudi Arabia with headquarters in Riyadh.
Samba Financial Group SJSC, formerly known as The Saudi American Bank, is a multinational Saudi banking company with headquarters in Riyadh.

Tadawul is the stock exchange of the Kingdom with headquarters in Riyadh.

Real-time prices from the Saudi stock market.

Largest Saudi Arabian Companies

The Saudi Arabian Oil Company is a global player in the petroleum industry.
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, based in Riyadh, is a multinational chemical manufacturing company and a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco.
Kingdom Holding Company
KHC is a Saudi investment holding company based in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company was the first petrochemical company in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Electricity Company
SECO is a Saudi Arabian electric energy company based in Riyadh.
Saudi Telecom
STC is a major telecommunications provider in Saudi Arabia.
Almarai is a multinational Saudi Arabian dairy company.
The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma'aden) is a government-owned (50%) mining company.

Major companies of Saudi Arabia
Wikipedia list of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia.


Saudia is the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Saudi Ports Authority
The largest Port Network in the Middle East.



Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Praying people at Masjid ul Haram, the Great Mosque of Mecca
Praying people at Masjid al-Haram, the Great Mosque of Mecca.
Image: Najamuddin Shahwani

Destination Saudi Arabia - Travel and Tour Guides


Discover Saudi Arabia:
Jeddah and King Fahd's Fountain, Rub' Al Khali desert adventure, Souk Al Majlis (Divan Heritage Souk), Eimarah Palace Najran, Old Eimarah Palace in Al-Ras, Khuzam Palace, the historic district of Al Dir'iya, Madain Saleh (Al-Hijr) archaeological site, and much more.

Comprehensive information about tourism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by the Saudi Tourism Authority.

Supreme Commission for Tourism
The site provides information about the tourism sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Emirate of Makkah
The official website of the Emirate Makkah Al-Mokaramah, which covers an area of 150 000 km² and has a population of more than 6 million people. The emirate hosts the pilgrims from all around the world who visit the holy city in Makkah (Mecca).

Wikivoyage Logo Wikivoyage Saudi Arabia
Wikipedia's travel guide to Saudi Arabia in many languages.

Qasr al Farid tomb in the archeological compound of Mada'in Saleh, Saudi Arabia
Qasr al Farid, the largest tomb in the archeological compound of Mada'in Saleh (Al-Hijr), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: Richard.hargas




UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Ruins in the At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah, Saudi Arabia
Ruins in the At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah, the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty.
Image: edward musiak

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia
There are five cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, eleven properties are listed on UNESCO's Tentative List (see the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia).

World Heritage Site Al-Ahsa Oasis, an Evolving Cultural Landscape
Al-Ahsa Oasis shows traces of continuous human settlement in the Gulf region from the Neolithic to the present. The world's largest oasis includes gardens, caves, canals, springs, fountains, a drainage lake, and historic buildings in an urban setting. The oasis, covering more than 85 km², is fed by a huge underground aquifer and irrigated by the flow of more than 280 artesian springs.

World Heritage Site Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)
Al-Hijr (Madâin Sâlih) was the first recognized world heritage site in Saudi Arabia. Al-Hijr is the largest preserved site of the Nabataean civilization south of Petra in Jordan. The archaeological site is known for its well-preserved monumental tombs with decorated facades dating from the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD.

World Heritage Site At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah
Dir'iyah was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty. The town is located in the center of the Arabian Peninsula, north-west of Riyadh. From 1744 to 1818, the settlement served as the capital of the Emirate of Diriyah under the first Saudi dynasty.

World Heritage Site Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah
Jeddah is a Saudi Arabian port city on the Red Sea. In the 7th-century, Jeddah was an important trading port for the Indian Ocean trade routes, through which goods were transported to the holy city of Mecca. The port still is the gateway for many Muslim pilgrims who come to Mecca by sea.

World Heritage Site Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia
In two places in the desert of the Ha'il region, ancient people left their traces 10,000 years ago. Numerous rock paintings have been found near Mount Umm Sinman and in the Shuwaymis area.

Historic Jeddah, the Old Town of the port city in Saudi Arabia
Historic Jeddah. The Old Town of the port city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image: Tahir Mahmood


Education in Saudi Arabia

Laboratory building of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
Laboratory buildings of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, with residential buildings and town mosque in the background.
Image: A. T. Service

King Saud University (KSU)
King Saud University was founded in 1957 (1376/77 AH) as Riyadh University; iit was one of the first higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia.

King Abdul Aziz University (KAU)
Founded in 1967 (1386/87 AH), Jeddah and Madinah.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
KAUST is a research university and the first mixed-gender campus in Saudi Arabia.

King Faisal University (KFU)
Founded in 1975 (1395 AH), Hofuf and in Dammam, Eastern Province.

King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals
The leading public university in Dhahran was founded in 1963 (1382/83 AH). Dhahran is an important administrative center for the Saudi oil industry.

Umm Al-Qur'a Islamic University
The large public Islamic university in Mecca was established in 1949 (1369 AH) as the College of Sharia; it was made a university in 1981.

Islamic University of Madinah
The Islamic University of Madinah was founded in 1961 (1380/81 AH). There is a Faculty for Islamic Law (Shari'ah) and various institutes to study the Holy Koran and other Islamic Studies, such as Da'wa (Call to Islam) and Usul Al-Din (Fundamental beliefs), Islamic traditions (Hadith) and the Arabic language.

King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST)
The scientific organization of the Saudi Arabian Government is based in Riyadh,and promotes science and technology in the country, with a number of research centers and institutes.


Environment & Nature

Dunes in the Rub' Al Khali desert, also known as the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia
Dunes in the Rub' Al Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter. The world's largest sand desert extends from central Saudi Arabia south to Yemen and east to the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Image: viktor.manuela

There are urgent and critical environmental problems facing the Kingdom. Mainly desertification, the depletion of underground water resources, the lack of rivers with constant stream throughout the year or permanent water bodies, the development of extensive desalination plants, and pollution by oil spills, air pollution, and waste disposal.

Environmental organizations in Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture
The ministry is supervising and developing the environment, water, and agriculture affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection
Saudi Arabia's environmental protection agency.

National Center for Monitoring Environmental Compliance
Saudi Arabia's National Center for Environmental Compliance.

National Center for Meteorology
Saudi Arabia's National Center for Meteorology offers meteorological information.

Saudi Gulf Environmental Protection Company (SEPCO)
SEPCO is the first company in the Middle East specialized in biological waste treatment.

Saudi Environmental Society
SENS is a national non-profit society for the development of the Saudi environment and improving the residents’ conditions in regions and provinces that suffer environmental problems. (account suspended)

National Center for Wildlife Development (NCW)
NCW develops and implements plans to preserve wildlife in its natural ecology and proposes the establishment of proper protected areas and reserves for wildlife in the Kingdom.

Environment and Energy | UNDP in Saudi Arabia
About the United Nations Development Programme in Saudi Arabia.

Prince Saud al-Faisal Wildlife Research Center
According to its website, the Saudi Wildlife Authority is responsible for the conservation and development of wildlife in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia History

The Kaaba in the al-Masjid al-Haram, Mecca
The mosque surrounding the Kaaba in Mecca is called al-Masjid al-Haram ("The Sacred Mosque"). According to Islamic belief, the Kaaba was the first masjid (place of worship) on Earth, and the second was the Temple in Jerusalem. The original Kaaba is much older than Islam; the pre-Islamic monument was rededicated by Muhammad in 631-32 C.E.
Image: Tahir Mahmood

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud. He united the four regions on the Arabian Peninsula into a single state through a series of conquests that began in 1902 with the capture of Riyadh, the ancestral seat of his family, the House of Saud. In September 1932, the dual kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd was united under the name Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

History lesson by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC.

Saudi Arabia profile - Timeline
Timeline of Saudi Arabia's history (BBC)

Wikipedia W History Saudi Arabia
Wikipedia series about the history of Saudi Arabia.


Additional Information

Selected country profiles of Saudi Arabia published by international organizations.


Amnesty International: Saudi Arabia
Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights.

BBC Country Profile: Saudi Arabia
Country profiles by the British public service broadcaster.

BTI Transformation Index Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Country Report 2020 by Bertelsmann Stiftung.

FAO: Saudi Arabia
UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Freedom House: Saudi Arabia
The U.S. government-funded non-profit organization whose goal is to promote liberal democracies worldwide.

GlobalEDGE: Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia ranking by the Global business knowledge portal.

The Heritage Foundation: Saudi Arabia
Index of Economic Freedom by The Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank.

Human Rights Watch: Saudi Arabia
HRW conducts research and advocacy on human rights.

OEC: Saudi Arabia
The Observatory of Economic Complexity provides the latest international trade data.

Reporters Without Borders: Saudi Arabia
RSF (Reporters sans frontières) is an international NGO that defends and promotes media freedom.

Wikipedia: Saudi Arabia
Wikipedia's Saudi Arabia page in many languages.

Worldbank Data: Saudi Arabia
World Development Indicators database.

The CIA World Factbook -- Saudi Arabia
CIA World Factbook Saudi Arabia Page.


Other countries and territories in the Middle East
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Oman | Qatar | Syria | Turkey | United Arab Emirates | West Bank | Yemen
Major Cities in the Middle East
Abu Dhabi, Aden, Alexandria, Amman, Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Doha, Dubai, Istanbul,
Jerusalem, Kuwait (City), Luxor, Manama, Mecca, Muscat, Nazareth, Nicosia, Port Said, Riyadh, Sana'a,
Sharm El Sheikh, Suez, Tehran, Tel Aviv