Camels in the desert

About Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia (officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) lies in Western Asia, constituting the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2, it is the 5th largest country in Asia and the 12th globally.

Saudi Arabia’s territory was once home to several ancient cultures and civilizations. There is prehistoric evidence of the earliest traces of human activity in the world located in the country. Islam was originated in the territory of today’s Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The world’s second-largest religion is based on the revelations of the Prophet Mohammed, who lived in Mecca and Medina from 570 to 632 AD.

Before the 1960s, Saudi Arabia was a country made from several territories. After King Abdul Aziz combined the country in the war in 1932, Saudi Arabia was united but left with a thin perspective of prosperity, until oil was discovered in the late 1960s. Before this, the population was left behind in civilization and lifestyle. Unlike their neighbors in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia was never occupied by foreign powers. As a result, the country and its leaders experienced scarce foreign influence, which led to a more conservative and less open culture compared to other Gulf states.

With the discovery of oil, Saudi Arabia and its people experienced sky-rocket growth from extreme poverty to extreme wealth, with little changes in civilized behavior. Despite modernization in infrastructure, Saudi society remained conservative and heavily affected by religious extremism.  When the Makkah Siege occurred in 1979, it introduced people to two decades of extremism.

Extremely low oil prices in the 1990s called for a shift in the Saudi economy. It became evident that the exclusive dependency on oil, especially in phases of weak markets, posed a threat to the country’s economic and social stability. The late King Abdullah created several authorities, among them the Saudi Arabian General Authority (SAGIA), which concerned itself with the diversification of the economy. I.e., creating new sources of income.

Today, Saudi Arabia reflects its history. With about 35 million residents and 1,7% population growth; two-thirds are under 35, 42.6% women, and about 11 million expats. This diversity in economic needs and aspirations is embodied in the so-called ‘Vision 2030’, a strategic framework that aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependency on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.