Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia. It covers most of the Arabian Peninsula with an area of approx. 2,150,000 km². Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and the second largest country of the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 to the early 20th century when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
The Saudi king’s official title is “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.” King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been king since January 2015.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formally declared in September 1932 when Ibn Saud proclaimed himself as King Abdulaziz.
Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East, about the size of Western Europe and one-quarter the size of the U.S.
The Al Saud dynasty has ruled ever since and holds a monopoly of political power. King Abdulaziz and he has been succeeded by his descendants.
Construction on Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower began in 2014. The new, tallest building in the world will stand 3,280 feet (1 km) high and will dwarf the Burj Khalifa hotel in Dubai by 600 feet (183 meters).
Until 2018, Saudi Arabia was the world’s only country where women could not drive legally. The law was changed in 2018 following years of campaigning.
Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river.
Saudi women were not allowed to take part in the Olympics until 2012. In 2012, two women took part in the London games and in 2016 four women took part in the Rio de Janeiro games.
Saudi Arabia along with Malaysia, Thailand, and South Africa were the most dangerous countries in which to drive according to a World Bank report in 2000.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of the world’s second-largest religion, Islam.
In 2012, Saudi Arabia banned smoking in government offices and most public places, which includes a ban on shishas (water pipes) and prohibits the selling of tobacco to minors.
Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. Mecca is the holiest of Muslim cities where Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was born in around 570 AD.
Saudi statistics state that the country is the world’s fourth largest importer of tobacco, and Saudis spend about US$8 million a day on cigarettes.
Mecca is home to one of the world’s largest annual gatherings. Every year, over 2 million Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca to perform the hajj, which is considered the fifth and final Pillar of Islam. Every capable adult Muslim is expected to complete at least one hajj in their lifetime.
Riyadh’s camel market is one of the largest in the world and sells about 100 camels per day.
The Abraj Al Bait Towers in Mecca holds the records for the world’s tallest clock tower, the world’s tallest hotel and the world’s largest clock face at 43m in diameter.
Saudi Arabia is considering ending beheadings as the national form of execution in favor of firing squads because of a lack of swordsmen to be found in the country.
In 1975, King Faisal was assassinated by his nephew and succeeded by his brother Khalid.
The Arabian Peninsula is the world’s largest peninsula.
Saudi Arabia is home to the King’s Cup camel race. The epic camel race has up to 2,000 participants and races across a 19km track during the Janadriyah National Festival.
Saudi Arabia is a prohibition state, and it is not legal to drink alcohol in the kingdom.
Saudia Arabia is an oil-rich nation, possessing around 16% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves. As of 2019, the petroleum sector accounts for around 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP and 90% of export earnings.
Birth control is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
Around 95% of Saudi Arabia is desert.
Saudi Arabia remains an absolute monarchy and has the last significant monarchy in the world. The country has been ruled by the Al Saud family since its inception as a nation on September 23, 1932.
15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 2001 9/11 attacks on the US were from Saudi Arabia.
According to Forbes magazine, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is the 8th most powerful person in the world and the world’s most powerful Muslim.
Saudi Arabia has the fifth-highest net migration in the world. Measured over a five-year period, 1,722,804 more people moved to Saudi Arabia than left it.
In October 2013, the United States overtook Saudi Arabia, which had led the world for decades, as the world’s largest exporter of oil, averaging 12.1 million barrels per day that year.
Saudi Arabia’s flag consists of a green background with a white Arabic inscription and a sabre. The inscription reads, “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the prophet of God.” The sabre is symbolic of the militancy of their faith and green is synonymous with Islam.
Non-Muslims are not allowed to have Saudi citizenship, and non-Muslim places of worship are not allowed in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s 13th most obese country with 69.7% of its population classified as overweight.
Immigrants make up more than 30% of the total Saudi population, according to UN data from 2013.
In 2017, archaeologists used Google Earth to uncovered nearly 400 previously undocumented stone structures called “gates” in the Arabian Desert. They believe the gates were built by nomadic tribes between 2,000 and 9,000 years ago.
About eighty percent of the Saudi Arabian labor force is non-national.
Saudi Arabia has the death penalty and is the world’s third-highest executer. In 2019, Saudi Arabia put 184 people to death including a mass execution of 37 people for terror offences.
Baby camel is one of the most tender of Saudi meats; it is a specialty of Jeddah and Jejaz.
Saudi Arabia has the eighth highest CO2 emissions in the world.
Officially, all Saudis are Muslims. Fifteen percent are Shiite Muslims who practice mainly in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia.
The tallest flagpole in the world is located in Saudi Arabia. At 171m (561ft), the Jeddah Flagpole was erected in 2014.
Instead of an income tax, Saudi Arabia has the zakat. It is a 2.5% impost that is it is levied on assets rather than income and is required of Muslims but not on guest workers.