|Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
المملكة العربية السعودية
Al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabiyyah as-Su‘ūdiyyah
|Motto: لا إله إلا الله، محمد رسول الله
"Lā ʾilāha ʾillā l-lāh, Muḥammadun rasūlu l-lāh"
"There is no god but God; Muhammad is the messenger of God."[a] (Shahada)
|Anthem: as-Salām al-Malakiyy
Speed for Glory
and largest city
|Government||Unitary Islamic absolute monarchy|
|-||King||Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz|
|-||Crown Prince||Salman bin Abdul Aziz|
|-||Kingdom founded||23 September 1932|
|-||Total||2,149,690 km2 (13th)
870,000 sq mi
|-||2012 estimate||29,195,895 (43rd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2012 estimate|
|-||Total||$906.806 billion (19th)|
|-||Per capita||$31,275 (28th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2012 estimate|
|-||Total||$727.307 billion (19th)|
|-||Per capita||$25,085 (30th)|
|HDI (2013)|| 0.782
high · 57th
|Currency||Saudi riyal (SR) (
|Time zone||AST (UTC+3)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||SA|
|a.||^ Legislation is by king's decree. The Consultative Assembly exists to advise the king.|
Saudi Arabia (i/ / or i/ /; Arabic: السعودية as-Su‘ūdiyyah or as-Sa‘ūdiyyah), officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Arabic: المملكة العربية السعودية al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabiyyah as-Su‘ūdiyyah, Arabic pronunciation (help·info)), is the largest Arab state in Western Asia by land area (approximately 2,250,000 km2 (870,000 sq mi), constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula) and the second-largest in the Arab world (after Algeria). It is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast, Yemen in the south, the Red Sea to the west and Persian Gulf to the east. Its population is estimated to consist of 16 million citizens and an additional 9 million registered foreign expatriates and 2 million illegal immigrants.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (known for most of his career as Ibn Saud) in 1932, although the conquests which eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom began in 1902 when he captured Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud, referred to in Arabic as Al Saud. The Saudi Arabian government has been an absolute monarchy since its inception, and it describes itself as being Islamic. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and the kingdom is sometimes called "the Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam.
Saudi Arabia has the world's largest oil reserves which are concentrated largely in the Eastern Province. Oil accounts for more than 95% of exports and 70% of government revenue, although the share of the non-oil economy has been growing recently. This has facilitated the transformation of an underdeveloped desert kingdom into one of the world's wealthiest nations. Vast oil revenues have permitted rapid modernisation, such as the creation of a welfare state. It has also the world's sixth largest natural gas reserves.
Following the unification of the kingdoms of Hejaz and Nejd, the new state was named al-Mamlakah al-ʻArabīyah as-Suʻūdīyah (a transliteration of المملكة العربية السعودية in Arabic) by royal decree on 23 September 1932 by its founder, king Abdul Aziz Al Saud. This is normally translated as "the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" in English, although it literally means "the Saudi Arab Kingdom".
The word "Saudi" is derived from the element as-Suʻūdīyah in the Arabic name of the country, which is a type of adjective known as a nisba, formed from the dynastic name of Al Saud (آل سعود). Its inclusion indicated that the country's ruler viewed it as the personal possession of the royal family. Al Saud is an Arabic name formed by adding the word Al, meaning "family of" or "House of", to the personal name of an ancestor. In the case of the Al Saud, this is the father of the dynasty's 18th century founder, Muhammad bin Saud (Muhammad, son of Saud).
Before the foundation of Saudi Arabia 
Apart from a small number of urban trading settlements, such as Mecca and Medina, located in the Hejaz in the west of the Arabian Peninsula, most of what was to become Saudi Arabia was populated by nomadic tribal societies in the inhospitable desert. The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was born in Mecca in about 571. In the early 7th century, Muhammad united the various tribes of the peninsula and created a single Islamic religious polity. Following his death in 632, his followers rapidly expanded the territory under Muslim rule beyond Arabia, conquering huge swathes of territory (from the Iberian Peninsula in west to modern day Pakistan in east) in a matter of decades. In so doing, Arabia soon became a politically peripheral region of the Muslim world as the focus shifted to the more developed conquered lands. From the 10th century to the early 20th century Mecca and Medina were under the control of a local Arab ruler known as the Sharif of Mecca, but at most times the Sharif owed allegiance to the ruler of one of the major Islamic empires based in Baghdad, Cairo or Istanbul. Most of the remainder of what became Saudi Arabia reverted to traditional tribal rule.
In the 16th century, the Ottomans added the Red Sea and Persian Gulf coast (the Hejaz, Asir and Al-Hasa) to the Empire and claimed suzerainty over the interior. One reason was to thwart Portuguese attempts to attack the Red Sea (hence the Hejaz) and the Indian Ocean. Ottoman degree of control over these lands varied over the next four centuries with the fluctuating strength or weakness of the Empire's central authority. The emergence of what was to become the Saudi royal family, known as the Al Saud, began in Nejd in central Arabia in 1744, when Muhammad bin Saud, founder of the dynasty, joined forces with the religious leader Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, founder of the Wahhabi movement, a strict puritanical form of Sunni Islam. This alliance formed in the 18th century provided the ideological impetus to Saudi expansion and remains the basis of Saudi Arabian dynastic rule today. The first "Saudi state" established in 1744 in the area around Riyadh, rapidly expanded and briefly controlled most of the present-day territory of Saudi Arabia, but was destroyed by 1818 by the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, Mohammed Ali Pasha. A much smaller second "Saudi state", located mainly in Nejd, was established in 1824. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, the Al Saud contested control of the interior of what was to become Saudi Arabia with another Arabian ruling family, the Al Rashid. By 1891, the Al Rashid were victorious and the Al Saud were driven into exile in Kuwait.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire continued to control or have a suzerainty (albeit nominal) over most of the peninsula. Subject to this suzerainty, Arabia was ruled by a patchwork of tribal rulers, with the Sharif of Mecca having pre-eminence and ruling the Hejaz. In 1902, Ibn Saud took control of Riyadh in Nejd and brought the Al Saud back to Nejd.) Ibn Saud gained the support of the Ikhwan, a tribal army inspired by Wahhabism and led by Sultan ibn Bijad and Faisal Al-Dawish, and which had grown quickly after its foundation in 1912. With the aid of the Ikhwan, Ibn Saud captured Hasa from the Ottomans in 1913.
In 1916, with the encouragement and support of Britain (which was fighting the Ottomans in World War I), the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali, led a pan-Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire to create a united Arab state. Although the Arab Revolt of 1916 to 1918 failed in its objective, the Allied victory in World War I resulted in the end of Ottoman suzerainty and control in Arabia.
Ibn Saud avoided involvement in the Arab Revolt, and instead continued his struggle with the Al Rashid. Following the latter's final defeat, he took the title Sultan of Nejd in 1921. With the help of the Ikhwan, the Hejaz was conquered in 1924-25 and on 10 January 1926, Ibn Saud declared himself King of the Hejaz. A year later, he added the title of King of Nejd.
After the conquest of the Hejaz, the Ikhwan leadership's objective switched to expansion of the Wahhabist realm into the British protectorates of Transjordan, Iraq and Kuwait, and began raiding those territories. This met with Ibn Saud's opposition, as he recognized the danger of a direct conflict with the British. At the same time, the Ikhwan became disenchanted with Ibn Saud's domestic policies which appeared to favor modernization and the increase in the number of non-Muslim foreigners in the country. As a result, they turned against Ibn Saud and, after a two-year struggle, were defeated in 1930 at the Battle of Sabilla, where their leaders were massacred. In 1932 the two kingdoms of the Hejaz and Nejd were united as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
From the foundation of Saudi Arabia to the present day 
The new kingdom was one of the poorest countries in the world, reliant on limited agriculture and pilgrimage revenues. However, in 1938 vast reserves of oil were discovered in the Al-Hasa region along the coast of the Persian Gulf and full-scale development of the oil fields began in 1941 under the US-controlled Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company). Oil provided Saudi Arabia with economic prosperity and substantial political leverage internationally. Cultural life rapidly developed, primarily in the Hejaz, which was the center for newspapers and radio. But the large influx of foreigners to work in the oil industry increased the pre-existing propensity for xenophobia. At the same time, the government became increasingly wasteful and extravagant. By the 1950s this had led to large governmental deficits and excessive foreign borrowing.
King Saud succeeded to the throne on his father's death in 1953. However, an intense rivalry between the King and his half-brother, Prince Faisal emerged, fueled by doubts in the royal family over Saud's competence. As a consequence, Saud was deposed in favor of Faisal in 1964. Saudi Arabia gained control of a proportion (20%) of Aramco in 1972, thereby decreasing US control over Saudi oil. In 1973, Saudi Arabia led an oil boycott against the Western countries that supported Israel in the October War against Egypt and Syria. Oil prices quadrupled. Faisal was assassinated in 1975 by his nephew, Prince Faisal bin Musaid and was succeeded by his half-brother King Khalid.
By 1976 Saudi Arabia had become the largest oil producer in the world. Khalid's reign saw economic and social development progress at an extremely rapid rate, transforming the infrastructure and educational system of the country; in foreign policy, close ties with the US were developed. In 1979, two events occurred which greatly concerned the Al Saud regime, and had a long-term influence on Saudi foreign and domestic policy. The first was the Iranian Islamic Revolution. It was feared that the country's Shi'ite minority in the Eastern Province (which is also the location of the oil fields) might rebel under the influence of their Iranian co-religionists. In fact, there were several anti-government uprisings in the region in 1979 and 1980. The second event, was the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Islamist extremists. The militants involved were in part angered by what they considered to be the corruption and un-Islamic nature of the Saudi regime. The government regained control of the mosque after 10 days and those captured were executed. Part of the response of the royal family was to enforce a much stricter observance of traditional religious and social norms in the country (for example, the closure of cinemas) and to give the Ulema a greater role in government. Neither entirely succeeded as Islamism continued to grow in strength.
In 1980 Saudi Arabia took full control of Aramco from the US.
King Khalid died of a heart attack in June 1982, and was succeeded by his brother, King Fahd, who added the title "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" to his name in 1986. Fahd continued to develop close relations with the United States and increased the purchase of American and British military equipment. The vast wealth generated by oil revenues was beginning to have an even greater impact on Saudi society. It led to rapid modernisation, urbanization, mass public education, and the creation of new media. This and the presence of increasingly large numbers of foreign workers greatly affected traditional Saudi norms and values. Although there was dramatic change in the social and economic life of the country, political power continued to be monopolized by the royal family leading to discontent among many Saudis who began to look for wider participation in government.
In the 1980s, the Saudi regime spent $25 billion in support of Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War. However, Saudi Arabia condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and asked the US to intervene. King Fahd allowed American and coalition troops to be stationed in Saudi Arabia. He invited the Kuwaiti government and many of its citizens to stay in Saudi Arabia, but expelled citizens of Yemen and Jordan because of their governments' support of Iraq. In 1991, Saudi Arabian forces were involved both in bombing raids on Iraq and in the land invasion that helped to liberate Kuwait.
The Saudi regime's relations with the West began to cause growing concern among some of the ulema and students of sharia law and was one of the issues that led to an increase in Islamic terrorism in Saudi Arabia, as well as Islamic terrorist attacks in Western countries by Saudi nationals. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi national (until stripped of his nationality in 1994). 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Virginia were Saudi nationals. Many Saudis, who did not in any way support the Islamist terrorists were nevertheless deeply unhappy with the Saudi regime's policies.
Islamism was not the only source of hostility to the regime. Although now extremely wealthy, Saudi Arabia's economy was near stagnant. High taxes and a growth in unemployment have contributed to discontent, and has been reflected in a rise in civil unrest, and discontent with the royal family. In response, a number of limited "reforms" were initiated by King Fahd. In March 1992, he introduced the "Basic Law)" which emphasised the duties and responsibilities of a ruler. In December 1993 the Consultative Council was inaugurated. It is composed of a chairman and 60 members - all chosen by the king. The King's intent was to respond to dissent while making as few actual changes in the status quo as possible. Fahd made it clear that he did not have democracy in mind: "A system based on elections is not consistent with our Islamic creed, which [approves of] government by consultation [shūrā]."
In 1995, Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke and the Crown Prince, Abdullah assumed the role of de facto regent, taking on the day-to-day running of the country. However, his authority was hindered by conflict with Fahd's full brothers (known, with Fahd, as the "Sudairi Seven"). From the 1990s, signs of discontent continued and included, in 2003 and 2004, a series of bombings and armed violence in Riyadh, Jeddah, Yanbu and Khobar. In February–April 2005, the first-ever nationwide municipal elections were held in Saudi Arabia. Women were not allowed to take part in the poll.
In 2005, King Fahd died and was succeeded by Abdullah, who continued the policy of minimum reform and clamping down on protests. The king introduced a number of economic reforms aimed at reducing the country's reliance on oil revenue: limited deregulation, encouragement of foreign investment, and privatization. In February 2009, Abdullah announced a series of governmental changes to the judiciary, armed forces, and various ministries to modernize these institutions including the replacement of senior appointees in the judiciary and the Mutaween (religious police) with more moderate individuals and the appointment of the country's first female deputy minister.
On 29 January 2011, hundreds of protesters gathered in the city of Jeddah in a rare display of criticism against the city's poor infrastructure after deadly floods swept through the city, killing eleven people. Police stopped the demonstration after about 15 minutes and arrested 30 to 50 people.
In 2011 and 2012 Saudi Arabia was affected by its own Arab Spring protests. In response, King Abdullah announced a series of benefits for citizens amounting to $10.7 billion. No political reforms were announced as part of the package, though some prisoners indicted for financial crimes were pardoned. Although male-only municipal elections were held on 29 September 2011  Abdullah announced that women will be able to vote and be elected in the 2015 municipal elections, and also to be nominated to the Shura Council.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, although, according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by royal decree in 1992, the king must comply with Sharia (that is, Islamic law) and the Quran. The Quran and the Sunnah (the traditions of Muhammad) are declared to be the country's constitution, but no written modern constitution has ever been written for Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia remains the only Arab nation where no national elections have ever taken place, since its creation. No political parties or national elections are permitted and according to The Economist's 2010 Democracy Index, the Saudi government is the seventh most authoritarian regime from among the 167 countries rated.
In the absence of national elections and political parties, politics in Saudi Arabia takes place in two distinct arenas: within the royal family, the Al Saud, and between the royal family and the rest of Saudi society. Outside of the Al-Saud, participation in the political process is limited to a relatively small segment of the population and takes the form of the royal family consulting with the ulema, tribal sheikhs and members of important commercial families on major decisions. This process is not reported by the Saudi media.
By custom, all males of full age have a right to petition the king directly through the traditional tribal meeting known as the majlis. In many ways the approach to government differs little from the traditional system of tribal rule. Tribal identity remains strong and, outside of the royal family, political influence is frequently determined by tribal affiliation, with tribal sheikhs maintaining a considerable degree of influence over local and national events. As mentioned earlier, in recent years there have been limited steps to widen political participation such as the establishment of the Consultative Council in the early 1990s and the National Dialogue Forum in 2003.
The rule of the Al Saud faces political opposition from four sources: Sunni Islamist activism; liberal critics; the Shi'ite minority – particularly in the Eastern Province; and long-standing tribal and regional particularistic opponents (for example in the Hejaz). Of these, the Islamic activists have been the most prominent threat to the regime and have in recent years perpetrated a number of violent or terrorist acts in the country. However, open protest against the government, even if peaceful, is not tolerated.
Monarchy and royal family 
The king combines legislative, executive, and judicial functions and royal decrees to form the basis of the country's legislation. The king is also the prime minister, and presides over the Council of Ministers (Majlis al-Wuzarāʾ), which comprises the first and second deputy prime.
The royal family dominates the political system. The family's vast numbers allow it to control most of the kingdom's important posts and to have an involvement and presence at all levels of government. The number of princes is estimated to be at least 7,000, with most power and influence being wielded by the 200 or so male descendants of King Abdul Aziz. The key ministries are generally reserved for the royal family, as are the thirteen regional governorships. Long term political and government appointments, such as those of King Abdullah, who had been Commander of the National Guard since 1963 (until 2010, when he appointed his son to replace him)), former Crown Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence and Aviation from 1962 to his death in 2011, former crown prince Prince Nayef who was the Minister of Interior from 1975 to his death in 2012, Prince Saud who has been Minister of Foreign Affairs since 1975 and current Minister of Defence and Aviation Prince Salman, who was Governor of the Riyadh Province from 1962 to 2011, have resulted in the creation of "power fiefdoms" for senior princes.
The royal family is politically divided by factions based on clan loyalties, personal ambitions and ideological differences. The most powerful clan faction is known as the 'Sudairi Seven', comprising the late King Fahd and his full brothers and their descendants. Ideological divisions include issues over the speed and direction of reform, and whether the role of the ulema should be increased or reduced. There were divisions within the family over who should succeed to the throne after the accession or earlier death of Prince Sultan. When prince Sultan died before ascending to the throne on 21 October 2011, King Abdullah appointed Prince Nayef as crown prince. Prince Nayef also died before ascending to the throne in 2012.
The Saudi government and the royal family have often, over many years, been accused of corruption. In a country that is said to "belong" to the royal family and is named for them, the lines between state assets and the personal wealth of senior princes are blurred. The extent of corruption has been described as systemic and endemic, and its existence was acknowledged and defended by Prince Bandar bin Sultan (a senior member of the royal family) in an interview in 2001. Although corruption allegations have often been limited to broad undocumented accusations, specific allegations were made in 2007, when it was claimed that the British defence contractor BAE Systems had paid Prince Bandar US$2 billion in bribes relating to the Al-Yamamah arms deal. Prince Bandar denied the allegations. Investigations by both US and UK authorities resulted, in 2010, in plea bargain agreements with the company, by which it paid $447 million in fines but did not admit to bribery. Transparency International in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index for 2010 gave Saudi Arabia a score of 4.7 (on a scale from 0 to 10 where 0 is "highly corrupt" and 10 is "highly clean").
There has been mounting pressure to reform and modernize the royal family's rule, an agenda championed by King Abdullah both before and after his accession in 2005. The creation of the Consultative Council in the early 1990s did not satisfy demands for political participation, and, in 2003, an annual National Dialogue Forum was announced that would allow selected professionals and intellectuals to publicly debate current national issues, within certain prescribed parameters. In 2005, the first municipal elections were held. In 2007, the Allegiance Council was created to regulate the succession. In 2009, the king made significant personnel changes to the government by appointing reformers to key positions and the first woman to a ministerial post. However, the changes have been criticized as being too slow or merely cosmetic.
Al ash-Sheikh and role of the ulema 
Saudi Arabia is almost unique in giving the ulema (the body of Islamic religious leaders and jurists) a direct role in government, the only other example being Iran. The ulema have also been a key influence in major government decisions, for example the imposition of the oil embargo in 1973 and the invitation to foreign troops to Saudi Arabia in 1990. In addition, they have had a major role in the judicial and education systems and a monopoly of authority in the sphere of religious and social morals.
By the 1970s, as a result of oil wealth and the modernization of the country initiated by King Faisal, important changes to Saudi society were under way and the power of the ulema was in decline. However, this changed following the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979 by Islamist radicals. The government's response to the crisis included strengthening the ulema's powers and increasing their financial support: in particular, they were given greater control over the education system and allowed to enforce stricter observance of Wahhabi rules of moral and social behaviour. Since his accession to the throne in 2005, King Abdullah has taken steps to rein back the powers of the ulema, for instance transferring their control over girls' education to the Ministry of Education.
The ulema have historically been led by the Al ash-Sheikh, the country's leading religious family. The Al ash-Sheikh are the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th century founder of the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam which is today dominant in Saudi Arabia. The family is second in prestige only to the Al Saud (the royal family) with whom they formed a "mutual support pact" and power-sharing arrangement nearly 300 years ago. The pact, which persists to this day, is based on the Al Saud maintaining the Al ash-Sheikh's authority in religious matters and upholding and propagating Wahhabi doctrine. In return, the Al ash-Sheikh support the Al Saud's political authority thereby using its religious-moral authority to legitimize the royal family's rule. Although the Al ash-Sheikh's domination of the ulema has diminished in recent decades, they still hold the most important religious posts and are closely linked to the Al Saud by a high degree of intermarriage.
Legal system 
The primary source of law is the Islamic Sharia derived from the teachings of the Qu'ran and the Sunnah (the traditions of the Prophet). Sharia is not codified and there is no system of judicial precedent. Saudi judges tend to follow the principles of the Hanbali school of jurisprudence (or fiqh) found in pre-modern texts and noted for its literalist interpretation of the Qu'ran and hadith. Nevertheless, because the judge is empowered to disregard previous judgments (either his own or of other judges) and will apply his personal interpretation of Sharia to any particular case, divergent judgements arise even in apparently identical cases.
Royal decrees are the other main source of law but are referred to as regulations rather than laws because they are subordinate to the Sharia. Royal decrees supplement Sharia in areas such as labor, commercial and corporate law. Additionally, traditional tribal law and custom remain significant.
The Sharia court system constitutes the basic judiciary of Saudi Arabia and its judges and lawyers form part of the ulema, the country's religious leadership. However, there are also extra-Sharia government tribunals which handle disputes relating to specific royal decrees. Final appeal from both Sharia courts and government tribunals is to the King and all courts and tribunals follow Sharia rules of evidence and procedure. The Saudi system of justice has been criticized for being slow, arcane, lacking in some of the safeguards of justice and unable to deal with the modern world.
In 2007, King Abdullah issued royal decrees reforming the judiciary and creating a new court system, although the reforms have yet to be implemented. The capabilities and reactionary nature of the judges have, in particular, been criticized and, in 2009, the King made a number of significant changes to the judiciary's personnel at the most senior level by bringing in a younger generation.
Human rights 
Saudi Arabia has long been criticized for its human rights record, with Western-based organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemning both the criminal justice system and its severe punishments. However, "ordinary Saudis", according to a BBC report, support the system and say that it maintains a low crime rate. There are no jury trials in Saudi Arabia and courts observe few formalities. Human Rights Watch, in a 2008 report, noted that a criminal procedure code had been introduced for the first time in 2002, but it lacked some basic protections and, in any case, had been routinely ignored by judges. Those arrested are often not informed of the crime of which they are accused or given access to a lawyer and are subject to abusive treatment and torture if they do not confess. At trial, there is a presumption of guilt and the accused is often unable to examine witnesses and evidence or present a legal defense. Most trials are held in secret.
The physical punishments imposed by Saudi courts, such as beheading, stoning, amputation and lashing, and the number of executions have been strongly criticized. The death penalty can be imposed for a wide range of offences including murder, rape, armed robbery, repeated drug use, apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery and can be carried out by beheading with a sword, stoning or firing squad, followed by crucifixion. The 345 reported executions between 2007 and 2010 were all carried out by public beheading. The last reported execution for sorcery took place in June 2012 and three recent convictions for witchcraft did not result in execution.
Although repeated theft can be punishable by amputation of the right hand, only one instance of judicial amputation was reported between 2007 and 2010. Gay rights are not recognised. Homosexual acts are punishable by flogging or death. Lashings are a common form of punishment and are often imposed for offences against religion and public morality such as drinking alcohol and neglect of prayer and fasting obligations.
Retaliatory punishments, or Qisas, are practised: for instance, an eye can be surgically removed at the insistence of a victim who lost his own eye. Families of someone unlawfully killed can choose between demanding the death penalty or granting clemency in return for a payment of diyya, or blood money, by the perpetrator. Other human rights issues that have attracted strong criticism include the extremely disadvantaged position of women (see Women in Saudi society below), religious discrimination, the lack of religious freedom and the activities of the religious police (see Religion below).
Between 1996 and 2000, Saudi Arabia acceded to four UN human rights conventions and, in 2004, the government approved the establishment of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), staffed by government employees, to monitor their implementation. To date, the activities of the NSHR have been limited and doubts remain over its neutrality and independence. Saudi Arabia remains one of the very few countries in the world not to accept the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In response to the continuing criticism of its human rights record, the Saudi government points to the special Islamic character of the country, and asserts that this justifies a different social and political order.
Foreign relations 
Saudi Arabia joined the UN in 1945 and is a founder member of the Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council, Muslim World League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation). It plays a prominent role in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and in 2005 joined the World Trade Organization. Saudi Arabia supports the intended formation of the Arab Customs Union in 2015 and an Arab common market by 2020, as announced at the 2009 Arab League summit. As a founding member of OPEC, its oil pricing policy has been generally to stabilize the world oil market and try to moderate sharp price movements so as to not jeopardise the Western economies.
Between the mid-1970s and 2002 Saudi Arabia expended over $70 billion in "overseas development aid". However, there is evidence that the vast majority was, in fact, spent on propagating and extending the influence of Wahhabism at the expense of other forms of Islam. There has been an intense debate over whether Saudi aid and Wahhabism has fomented extremism in recipient countries. The two main allegations are that, by its nature, Wahhabism encourages intolerance and promotes terrorism. Former CIA director James Woolsey described it as "the soil in which Al-Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are flourishing." However, the Saudi government strenuously denies these claims or that it exports religious or cultural extremism.
In the Arab and Muslim worlds, Saudi Arabia is considered to be pro-Western and pro-American, and it is certainly a long-term ally of the United States. However, this and Saudi Arabia's role in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, particularly the stationing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil from 1991, prompted the development of a hostile Islamist response internally. As a result, Saudi Arabia has, to some extent, distanced itself from the U.S. and, for example, refused to support or to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Relations with the United States became strained following 9/11. American politicians and media accused the Saudi government of supporting terrorism and tolerating a jihadist culture. Indeed, Osama bin Laden and fifteen out of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. According to the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups... Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide."
Saudi Arabia's increasing alarm at the rise of Iran is reflected in the reported private comments of King Abdullah urging the US to attack Iran and "cut off the head of the snake". Saudi Arabia has been seen as a moderating influence in the Arab-Israeli conflict, periodically putting forward a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians and condemning Hezbollah. Following the Arab Spring Saudi Arabia offered asylum to deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and King Abdullah telephoned President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (prior to his deposition) to offer his support.
The Saudi military consists of the Royal Saudi Land Forces, the Royal Saudi Air Force, the Royal Saudi Navy, the Royal Saudi Air Defense, the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG, an independent military force), and paramilitary forces, totaling nearly 200,000 active-duty personnel. In 2005 the armed forces had the following personnel: the army, 75,000; the air force, 18,000; air defense, 16,000; the navy, 15,500 (including 3,000 marines); and the SANG had 75,000 active soldiers and 25,000 tribal levies.  In addition, there is an Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah military intelligence service.
The SANG is not a reserve but a fully operational front-line force, and originated out of Abdul Aziz's tribal military-religious force, the Ikhwan. Its modern existence, however, is attributable to it being effectively Abdullah's private army since the 1960s and, unlike the rest of the armed forces, is independent of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation. The SANG has been a counterbalance to the Sudairi faction in the royal family: Prince Sultan, the Minister of Defense and Aviation, is one of the so-called 'Sudairi Seven' and controls the remainder of the armed forces.
Spending on defense and security has increased significantly since the mid-'90s and was about US$25.4 billion in 2005. Saudi Arabia ranks among the top 10 in the world in government spending for its military, representing about 7% of gross domestic product in 2005. Its modern high-technology arsenal makes Saudi Arabia among the world's most densely armed nations, with its military equipment being supplied primarily by the US, France and Britain. The United States sold more than $80 billion in military hardware between 1951 and 2006 to the Saudi military. On 20 October 2010, the U.S. State Department notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history – an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces. The UK has also been a major supplier of military equipment to Saudi Arabia since 1965. Since 1985, the UK has supplied military aircraft – notably the Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft – and other equipment as part of the long-term Al-Yamamah arms deal estimated to have been worth £43 billion by 2006 and thought to be worth a further £40 billion.
In May 2012, British defence giant BAE signed a £1.9bn ($3bn) deal to supply Hawk trainer jets to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia occupies about 80% of the Arabian peninsula, lying between latitudes 16° and 33° N, and longitudes 34° and 56° E. Because the country's southern borders with the United Arab Emirates and Oman are not precisely defined or marked, the exact size of the country remains unknown. The CIA World Factbook's estimate is 2,250,000 km2 (868,730 sq mi) and lists Saudi Arabia as the world's 13th largest state.
Saudi Arabia's geography is dominated by the Arabian Desert and associated semi-desert and shrubland (see satellite image to right). It is, in fact, a number of linked deserts and includes the 647,500 km2 (250,001 sq mi) Rub' al Khali ("Empty Quarter") in the southern part of the country, the world's largest contiguous sand desert. There are virtually no rivers or lakes in the country, but wadis are numerous. The few fertile areas are to be found in the alluvial deposits in wadis, basins, and oases. The main topographical feature is the central plateau which rises abruptly from the Red Sea and gradually descends into the Nejd and toward the Persian Gulf. On the Red Sea coast, there is a narrow coastal plain, known as the Tihamah parallel to which runs an imposing escarpment. The southwest province of Asir is mountainous, and contains the 3,133 m (10,279 ft) Mount Sawda, which is the highest point in the country.
Except for the southwestern province of Asir, Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with extremely high day-time temperatures and a sharp temperature drop at night. Average summer temperatures are around 113 °F (45 °C), but can be as high as 129 °F (54 °C). In the winter the temperature rarely drops below 32 °F (0 °C). In the spring and autumn the heat is temperate, temperatures average around 84 °F (29 °C). Annual rainfall is extremely low. The Asir region differs in that it is influenced by the Indian Ocean monsoons, usually occurring between October and March. An average of 300 mm (12 in) of rainfall occurs during this period, that is about 60% of the annual precipitation.
Animal life includes wolves, hyenas, mongooses, baboons, hares, sand rats, and jerboas. Larger animals such as gazelles, oryx, and leopards were relatively numerous until the 1950s, when hunting from motor vehicles reduced these animals almost to extinction. Birds include falcons (which are caught and trained for hunting), eagles, hawks, vultures, sand grouse and bulbuls. There are several species of snakes, many of which are venomous, and numerous types of lizards. There is a wide variety of marine life in the Persian Gulf. Domesticated animals include camels, sheep, goats, donkeys, and chickens. Reflecting the country's desert conditions, Saudi Arabia's plant life mostly consists of small herbs and shrubs requiring little water. There are a few small areas of grass and trees in southern Asir. The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is widespread.
Administrative divisions 
Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces (manatiq idāriyya, – singular mintaqah idariyya). The provinces are further divided into 118 governorates (Arabic: manatiq idāriyya, منطقةإدارية, ). This number includes the 13 provincial capitals, which have a different status as municipalities (amanah) headed by mayors (amin). The governorates are further sudivided into sub-governorates (marakiz, sing. markaz).
|1||Al Jawf (or Jouf)||Sakaka city|
|8||Al Riyadh||Riyadh city|
|10||Al Bahah (or Baha)||Al Bahah city|
Saudi Arabia's command economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry. The oil industry comprises about 45% of Saudi Arabia's nominal gross domestic product, compared with 40% from the private sector (see below). Saudi Arabia officially has about 260 billion barrels (4.1×1010 m3) of oil reserves, comprising about one-fifth of the world's proven total petroleum reserves.
The government is attempting to promote growth in the private sector by privatizing industries such as power and telecommunications. Saudi Arabia announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies in 1999, which followed the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. Shortages of water and rapid population growth may constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.
In the 1990s, Saudi Arabia experienced a significant contraction of oil revenues combined with a high rate of population growth. Per capita income fell from a high of $11,700 at the height of the oil boom in 1981 to $6,300 in 1998. Increases in oil prices since 2000 have helped boost per capita GDP to $17,000 in 2007 dollars, or about $7,400 adjusted for inflation. Taking into account the impact of the real oil price changes on the Kingdom's real gross domestic income, the real command-basis GDP was computed to be 330.381 billion 1999 USD in 2010.
Oil price increases of 2008–2009 have triggered a second oil boom, pushing Saudi Arabia's budget surplus to $28 billion (110SR billion) in 2005. Tadawul (the Saudi stock market index) finished 2004 with a massive 76.23% to close at 4437.58 points. Market capitalization was up 110.14% from a year earlier to stand at $157.3 billion (589.93SR billion), which makes it the biggest stock market in the Middle East.
OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) limits its members' oil production based on their "proven reserves." The higher their reserves, the more OPEC allows them to produce. Saudi Arabia's published reserves have shown little change since 1980, with the main exception being an increase of about 100 billion barrels (1.6×1010 m3) between 1987 and 1988. Matthew Simmons has suggested that Saudi Arabia is greatly exaggerating its reserves and may soon show production declines (see peak oil).
Saudi Arabia is one of only a few fast-growing countries in the world with a relatively high per capita income of $24,200 (2010). Saudi Arabia will be launching six "economic cities" (e.g. King Abdullah Economic City) which are planned to be completed by 2020. These six new industrialized cities are intended to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia, and are expected to increase the per capita income. The King of Saudi Arabia has announced that the per capita income is forecast to rise from $15,000 in 2006 to $33,500 in 2020. The cities will be spread around Saudi Arabia to promote diversification for each region and their economy, and the cities are projected to contribute $150 billion to the GDP.
Reporting of poverty remains a state taboo. In December 2011, days after the Arab Spring uprisings, the Saudi interior ministry detained reporter Feros Boqna and two colleagues and held them for almost two weeks for questioning after they uploaded a video on the topic to YouTube. Statistics on the issue are not available through the UN resources because the Saudi government does not issue poverty figures. Observers researching the issue prefer to stay anonymous because of the risk of being arrested. Three journalists: Feras Boqna, Hussam al-Drewesh and Khaled al-Rasheed were detained after posting 10-minute film 'Mal3ob 3alena', or 'We are being cheated' on Saudis living in poverty to YouTube. Authors of the video claim that 22% of Saudis are considered to be poor (2009) and 70% of Saudis do not own their houses.
||This section appears to contradict itself. (February 2012)|
The population of Saudi Arabia as of July 2010 is estimated to be 25,731,776 including 5,576,076 non-nationals In 1950, Saudi Arabia had a population of 3 million. The ethnic composition of Saudi nationals is 90% Arab and 10% Afro-Arab. Until the 1960s, a majority of the population was nomadic; but presently more than 95% of the population is settled, due to rapid economic and urban growth. As recently as the early 1960s, the Saudi Arabia's slave population was estimated at 300,000. Slavery was officially abolished in 1962.
About 31% of the population is made up of foreign nationals living in Saudi Arabia. Indian: 1.3 million, Pakistani: 900,000, Egyptian: 900,000, Yemeni: 800,000, Bangladeshi: 500,000, Filipino: 500,000, Jordanian/Palestinian: 260,000, Indonesian: 250,000, Sri Lankan: 350,000, Sudanese: 250,000, Syrian: 100,000 and Turkish: 100,000. There are around 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia, most of whom live in compounds or gated communities.
Saudi Arabia expelled 800,000 Yemenis in 1990 and 1991. An estimated 240,000 Palestinians are living in Saudi Arabia. They are not allowed to hold or even apply for Saudi citizenship, because of Arab League instructions barring the Arab states from granting them citizenship. Palestinians are the sole foreign group that cannot benefit from a 2004 law passed by Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers, which entitles expatriates of all nationalities who have resided in the kingdom for ten years to apply for citizenship with priority being given to holders of degrees in various scientific fields. The Articles 12.4 and 14.1 of the Executive Regulation of Saudi Citizenship System can be interpreted as requiring applicants to be Muslim.
In a 2011 news story, Arab News reported, "Nearly three million expatriate workers will have to leave the Kingdom in the next few years as the Labor Ministry has put a 20% ceiling on the country's guest workers."
The official language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic. The three main regional variants spoken by Saudis are Hejazi Arabic (about 6 million speakers), Nejdi Arabic (about 8 million speakers) and Gulf Arabic (about 1.5 million speakers). The large expatriate communities also speak their own languages, the most numerous being Tagalog (700,000), Rohingya (400,000), Urdu (380,000), and Egyptian Arabic (300,000).
There are about 25 million people who are Muslim, or 97% of the total population. Data for Saudi Arabia comes primarily from general population surveys, which are less reliable than censuses or large-scale demographic and health surveys for estimating minority-majority ratios. About 85–90% of Saudis are Sunni, while Shias represent around 10–15% of the Muslim population. The official and dominant form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia is commonly known as Wahhabism (a name which some of its proponents consider derogatory, preferring the term Salafism), founded in the Arabian Peninsula by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the eighteenth century, is often described as 'puritanical', 'intolerant' or 'ultra-conservative'. However, proponents consider that its teachings seek to purify the practise of Islam of any innovations or practices that deviate from the seventh-century teachings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and his companions
In 2010, the U.S. State Department stated that in Saudi Arabia "freedom of religion is neither recognized nor protected under the law and is severely restricted in practice" and that "government policies continued to place severe restrictions on religious freedom". No faith other than Islam is permitted to be practiced, although there are nearly a million Christians – nearly all foreign workers – in Saudi Arabia. There are no churches or other non-Muslim houses of worship permitted in the country. Even private prayer services are forbidden in practice and the Saudi religious police reportedly regularly search the homes of Christians. Foreign workers have to observe Ramadan but are not allowed to celebrate Christmas or Easter.
Conversion by Muslims to another religion (apostasy) carries the death penalty, although there have been no confirmed reports of executions for apostasy in recent years. Proselytizing by non-Muslims is illegal, and the last Christian priest was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1985. There are some Hindus and Buddhists in Saudi Arabia. Compensation in court cases discriminates against non-Muslims: once fault is determined, a Muslim receives all of the amount of compensation determined, a Jew or Christian half, and all others a sixteenth.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Shia minority face systematic discrimination from the Saudi government in education, the justice system and especially religious freedom. Restrictions are imposed on the public celebration of Shia festivals such as Ashura and on the Shia taking part in communal public worship. According to a 2012 poll, 5% of Saudis are atheists.
Largest cities 
Largest cities or towns of Saudi Arabia
Central Department of Statistics & Information 
|Rank||City name||Province||Pop.||Rank||City name||Province||Pop.|
Saudi Arabia has centuries-old attitudes and traditions, often derived from Arab tribal civilization. This culture has been bolstered by the austerely puritanical Wahhabi form of Islam, which arose in the eighteenth century and now predominates in the country. The many limitations on behaviour and dress are strictly enforced both legally and socially. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited, for example, and there is no theatre or public exhibition of films. Nevertheless, as reported by the UK Mail, within the Saudi royal family homosexuality is permitted so long as it is not the subject of public attention (Daily Mail: "A gay Saudi prince has been jailed for beating and strangling his servant."). However, the Daily Mail and Wikileaks indicate that the Saudi Royal family applies a different moral code to itself ("WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex. Royals flout puritanical laws to throw parties for young elite while religious police are forced to turn a blind eye.") Public expression of opinion about domestic political or social matters is discouraged. There are no organizations such as political parties or labour unions to provide public forums.
Daily life is dominated by Islamic observance. Five times each day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques scattered throughout the country. Because Friday is the holiest day for Muslims, the weekend begins on Thursday. In accordance with Wahhabi doctrine, only two religious holidays are publicly recognized, ʿĪd al-Fiṭr and ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā. Celebration of other Islamic holidays, such as the Prophet's birthday and ʿĀshūrāʾ (an important holiday for Shīʿites), are tolerated only when celebrated locally and on a small scale. Public observance of non-Islamic religious holidays is prohibited, with the exception of 23 September, which commemorates the unification of the kingdom.
Islamic heritage sites 
Saudi Arabia, and specifically the Hejaz, as the cradle of Islam, has many of the most significant historic Muslim sites including the two holiest sites of Mecca and Medina. One of the King's titles is Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the two mosques being Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, which contains Islam's most sacred place, the Kaaba, and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina which contains Muhammad's tomb.
However, Saudi Wahhabism is hostile to any reverence given to historical or religious places of significance for fear that it may give rise to 'shirk' (that is, idolatry). As a consequence, under Saudi rule, the Hejaz cities have suffered from considerable destruction of their physical heritage and, for example, it has been estimated that about 95% of Mecca's historic buildings, most over a thousand years old, have been demolished. These include the mosque originally built by Muhammad's daughter Fatima, and other mosques founded by Abu Bakr (Muhammad's father-in-law and the first Caliph), Umar (the second Caliph), Ali (Muhammad's son-in-law and the fourth Caliph), and Salman al-Farsi (another of Muhammad's companions). Other historic buildings that have been destroyed include the house of Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet, the house of Abu Bakr, now the site of the local Hilton hotel; the house of Ali-Oraid, the grandson of the Prophet, and the Mosque of abu-Qubais, now the location of the King's palace in Mecca.
Critics have described this as "Saudi vandalism" and claim that over the last 50 years 300 historic sites linked to Muhammad, his family or companions have been lost. It has been reported that there now are fewer than 20 structures remaining in Mecca that date back to the time of Muhammad.
Saudi Arabian dress strictly follows the principles of hijab (the Islamic principle of modesty, especially in dress). The predominantly loose and flowing, but covering, garments are suited to Saudi Arabia's desert climate. Traditionally, men usually wear an ankle length garment woven from wool or cotton (known as a thawb), with a keffiyeh (a large checkered square of cotton held in place by an agal) or a ghutra (a plain white square made of finer cotton, also held in place by an agal) worn on the head. For rare chilly days, Saudi men wear a camel-hair cloak (bisht) over the top. Women's clothes are decorated with tribal motifs, coins, sequins, metallic thread, and appliques. Women are required to wear an abaya or modest clothing when in public.
- Ghutrah (Arabic: غتره) is a traditional headdress typically worn by Arab men. It is made of a square of cloth ("scarf"), usually cotton, folded and wrapped in various styles around the head. It is commonly worn in areas with an arid climate, to provide protection from direct sun exposure, and also protection of the mouth and eyes from blown dust and sand.
- Agal (Arabic: عقال) is an item of Arab headgear constructed of cord which is fastened around the Ghutrah to hold it in place. The agal is usually black in colour.
- Thawb (Arabic: ثوب) is the standard Arabic word for garment. It is ankle length, usually with long sleeves similar to a robe.
- Bisht (Arabic: بشت) is a traditional Arabic men's cloak usually only worn for prestige on special occasions such as weddings.
- Abaya (Arabic: عباية) is a women's garment. It is a black cloak which loosely covers the entire body except the head. Some women choose to cover their faces with a niqāb and some do not.
Entertainment, the arts, sport and cuisine 
During the 1970s, cinemas were numerous in the Kingdom and were not considered un-Islamic, although they were seen as contrary to Arab tribal norms. During the Islamic revival movement in the 1980s, and as a political response to an increase in Islamist activism including the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the government closed all cinemas and theaters. However, with King Abdullah's reforms from 2005, some cinemas have re-opened.
From the 18th century onward, Wahhabi fundamentalism discouraged artistic development inconsistent with its teaching. In addition, Sunni Islamic prohibition of creating representations of people have limited the visual arts, which tend to be dominated by geometric, floral, and abstract designs and by calligraphy. With the advent of oil-wealth in the 20th century came exposure to outside influences, such as Western housing styles, furnishings, and clothes. Music and dance have always been part of Saudi life. Traditional music is generally associated with poetry and is sung collectively. Instruments include the rabābah, an instrument not unlike a three-string fiddle, and various types of percussion instruments, such as the ṭabl (drum) and the ṭār (tambourine). Of the native dances, the most popular is a martial line dance known as the ʿarḍah, which includes lines of men, frequently armed with swords or rifles, dancing to the beat of drums and tambourines. Bedouin poetry, known as nabaṭī, is still very popular.
Censorship has limited the development of Saudi literature, although several Saudi novelists and poets have achieved critical and popular acclaim in the Arab world – albeit generating official hostility in their home country. These include Ghazi Algosaibi, Abdelrahman Munif, Turki al-Hamad and Rajaa al-Sanea.
Football (soccer) is the national sport in Saudi Arabia. Scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing and basketball are also popular, played by both men and women, with the Saudi Arabian national basketball team winning bronze at the 1999 Asian Championship. More traditional sports such as camel racing became more popular in the 1970s. A stadium in Riyadh holds races in the winter. The annual King's Camel Race, begun in 1974, is one of the sport's most important contests and attracts animals and riders from throughout the region. Falconry, another traditional pursuit, is still practiced.
Saudi Arabian cuisine is similar to that of the surrounding Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, and has been heavily influenced by Turkish, Persian, and African food. Islamic dietary laws are enforced: pork is not consumed and other animals are slaughtered in accordance with halal. A dish consisting of a stuffed lamb, known as khūzī, is the traditional national dish. Kebabs are popular, as is shāwarmā (shawarma), a marinated grilled meat dish of lamb, mutton, or chicken. As in other Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, machbūs (kabsa), a rice dish with fish or shrimp, is popular. Flat, unleavened bread is a staple of virtually every meal, as are dates and fresh fruit. Coffee, served in the Turkish style, is the traditional beverage.
Saudi society has a number of issues and tensions. A rare independent opinion poll published in 2010 indicated that Saudis' main social concerns were unemployment (at 10% in 2010), corruption and religious extremism. Crime is not a significant problem. However, Saudi Arabia's objective of being both a modern and Islamic country, coupled with economic difficulties, has created deep social tensions. Connections to the West have caused some Saudis to desire the overthrow of the Al Saud. Others want a reformed and more open government and to have more influence in the political process. On the other hand, juvenile delinquency, drug-use and use of alcohol are getting worse. High unemployment and a generation of young males filled with contempt toward the Royal Family is a significant threat to Saudi social stability. Some Saudis feel they are entitled to well-paid government jobs, and the failure of the government to satisfy this sense of entitlement has led to considerable dissatisfaction. Additionally, the Shiite minority, located primarily in the Eastern Province, and who often complain of institutionalized inequality and repression, have created civil disturbances in the past. Terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia have made it clear that Saudi Arabia does harbor indigenous terrorists.
According to a 2009 U.S. State Department communication by Hillary Clinton, United States Secretary of State, (disclosed as part of the Wikileaks U.S. 'cables leaks' controversy in 2010) "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide". Part of this funding arises through the zakat (an act of charity dictated by Islam) paid by all Saudis to charities, and amounting to at least 2.5% of their income. Although many charities are genuine, others, it is alleged, serve as fronts for money laundering and terrorist financing operations. While many Saudis contribute to those charities in good faith believing their money goes toward good causes, it has been alleged that others know full well the terrorist purposes to which their money will be applied.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Nura Al-Suwaiyan, director of the family safety program at the National Guard Hospital, one in four children are abused in Saudi Arabia. The National Society for Human Rights reports that almost 45% of the country's children are facing some sort of abuse and domestic violence. It has also been claimed that trafficking of women is a particular problem in Saudi Arabia as the country's large number of female foreign domestic workers, and loopholes in the system cause many to fall victim to abuse and torture.
Widespread inbreeding in Saudi Arabia, resulting from the traditional practice of encouraging marriage between close relatives, has produced high levels of several genetic disorders including thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy, deafness and muteness.
The U.S. State department considers that "discrimination against women is a significant problem" in Saudi Arabia and that women have few political or social rights. After her 2008 visit, the UN special reporter on violence against women noted the lack of women's autonomy and the absence of a law criminalizing violence against women. The World Economic Forum 2010 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Saudi Arabia 129th out of 134 countries for gender parity.
Every adult woman has to have a close male relative as her "guardian". As a result, Human Rights Watch has described the position of Saudi women as like that of a minor, with little authority over their own lives. The guardian is entitled to make a number of critical decisions on a woman's behalf. These include giving approval for the woman to travel, to hold some types of business licenses, to study at a university or college and to work if the type of business is not "deemed appropriate for a woman." Even where a guardian's approval is not legally required, some officials will still ask for it.
Women are also said to have faced discrimination in the courts, where the testimony of one man equals that of two women, and in family and inheritance law. Polygamy is permitted for men, and men have a unilateral right to divorce their wives (talaq) without needing any legal justification. A woman can only obtain a divorce with the consent of her husband or judicially if her husband has harmed her. In practice, it is very difficult for a Saudi woman to obtain a judicial divorce. With regard to the law of inheritance, the Quran specifies that fixed portions of the deceased's estate must be left to the Qu'ranic heirs. Generally, female heirs receive half the portion of male heirs. A Sunni Muslim can bequeath a maximum of a third of his property to non-Qu'ranic heirs. The residue is divided between agnatic heirs.
Cultural norms impose restrictions on women when in public, and these are enforced by the religious police, the mutawa. They include requiring women to sit in separate specially designated family sections in restaurants, to wear an abaya (a loose-fitting, full-length black cloak covering the entire body) and to conceal their hair. There is also effectively a ban on women driving.
Men marry girls as young as ten in Saudi Arabia; Child marriage is believed to hinder the cause of women's education. The drop-out rate of girls increases around puberty, as they exchange education for marriage. Roughly 25% of college-aged young women do not attend college, and in 2005–2006, women had a 60% dropout rate. Female literacy is estimated to be around 70% compared to male literacy of around 85%.
Leading Saudi feminist and journalist, Wajeha al-Huwaider, has said "Saudi women are weak, no matter how high their status, even the 'pampered' ones among them, because they have no law to protect them from attack by anyone. The oppression of women and the effacement of their selfhood is a flaw affecting most homes in Saudi Arabia."
Although many Saudis would like more freedom in Saudi Arabia, there is evidence that many women do not want radical change. Even many advocates of reform reject foreign critics, for "failing to understand the uniqueness of Saudi society." A number of Saudi women have risen to the top of some professions or otherwise achieved prominence, for example Dr. Ghada Al-Mutairi, heads a medical research center in California and Dr. Salwa Al-Hazzaa, head of the ophthalmology department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh and was the late King Fahad's personal ophthalmologist. On 25 September 2011, King Abdullah announced that Saudi women would gain the right to vote (and to be candidates) in municipal elections, following the next round of these elections. However, a male guardian's permission is required in order to vote.
Education is free at all levels. The school system is composed of elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools. A large part of the curriculum at all levels is devoted to Islam, and, at the secondary level, students are able to follow either a religious or a technical track. Girls are able to attend school. This disproportion is reflected in the rate of literacy, which exceeds 85% among males and is about 70% among females. Classes are segregated by gender. Higher education has expanded rapidly, with large numbers of Universities and colleges being founded particularly since 2000. Institutions of higher education include the country's first University, King Saud University founded in 1957, the Islamic University at Medina founded in 1961, and the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah founded in 1967. Other colleges and universities emphasize curricula in sciences and technology, military studies, religion, and medicine. Institutes devoted to Islamic studies, in particular, abound. Women typically receive college instruction in segregated institutions.
The study of Islam dominates the Saudi educational system. In particular, the memorization by rote of large parts of the Qu'ran, its interpretation and understanding (Tafsir) and the application of Islamic tradition to everyday life is at the core of the curriculum. Religion taught in this manner is also a compulsory subject for all University students. As a consequence, Saudi youth "generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs" according to the CIA. Similarly, The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote in 2010 that "the country needs educated young Saudis with marketable skills and a capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship. That's not generally what Saudi Arabia's educational system delivers, steeped as it is in rote learning and religious instruction."
A further criticism of the religious focus of the Saudi education system is the nature of the Wahhabi-controlled curriculum. The Islamic aspect of the Saudi national curriculum was examined in a 2006 report by Freedom House which concluded that "the Saudi public school religious curriculum continues to propagate an ideology of hate toward the 'unbeliever', that is, Christians, Jews, Shiites, Sufis, Sunni Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine, Hindus, atheists and others". The Saudi religious studies curriculum is taught outside the Kingdom in madrasah throughout the world. Critics have described the education system as "medieval" and that its primary goal "is to maintain the rule of absolute monarchy by casting it as the ordained protector of the faith, and that Islam is at war with other faiths and cultures".
The approach taken in the Saudi education system has been accused of encouraging Islamic terrorism, leading to reform efforts. To tackle the twin problems of encouraging extremism and the inadequacy of the country's university education for a modern economy, the government is aiming to slowly modernise the education system through the "Tatweer" reform program. The Tatweer program is reported to have a budget of approximately US$2 billion and focuses on moving teaching away from the traditional Saudi methods of memorization and rote learning towards encouraging students to analyze and problem-solve. It also aims to create an education system which will provide a more secular and vocationally based training.
See also 
- Outline of Saudi Arabia
- Index of Saudi Arabia-related articles
- List of Arabian Houses
- List of Ambassadors from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia
- Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia
- "About Saudi Arabia: Facts and figures". The royal embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C., USA. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- "God". Islam: Empire of Faith. PBS. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- "Islam and Christianity", Encyclopedia of Christianity (2001): Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as Allāh.
- L. Gardet. "Allah". Encyclopaedia of Islam Online.
- Saudi Arabia entry at The World Factbook
- "Saudi Arabia the country in Brief". www.saudia-online.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "Key Indicators". Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Central Department of Statistics & Information. 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- "Saudi Arabia". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
- "HDRO (Human Development Report Office) United Nations Development Programme". United Nations. 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- "Saudi Arabia". American Bedu. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
- James Wynbrandt (2004). A Brief History of Saudi Arabia. Infobase Publishing. pp. 242. ISBN 978-1-4381-0830-8.
- Soldatkin, Vladimir; Astrasheuskaya, Nastassia (9 November 2011). "Saudi Arabia to overtake Russia as top oil producer-IEA". Reuters. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "The Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia – A Welfare State". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Background Note: Saudi Arabia". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Lewis, Bernard (2003). The Crisis of Islam. pp. xx–xxi (Introduction). ISBN 0-679-64281-1.
- Wilson, Peter W.; Graham, Douglas (1994). Saudi Arabia: the coming storm. p. 46. ISBN 1-56324-394-6. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- Kamrava, Mehran (2011). The Modern Middle East: A Political History Since the First World War. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-520-26774-9. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- Wynbrandt,, James; Gerges, Fawaz A. (2010). A Brief History of Saudi Arabia. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0-8160-7876-9.
- Hariri-Rifai, Wahbi; Hariri-Rifai, Mokhless (1990). The heritage of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-9624483-0-0.
- Gordon, Matthew (2005). The rise of Islam. p. 4. ISBN 0-313-32522-7.
- Lindsay, James E. (2005). Daily life in the medieval Islamic world. p. 33. ISBN 0-313-32270-8.
- "History of Arabia". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
- East, William Gordon (1971). The changing map of Asia. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-0-416-16850-1.
- A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World William J. Bernstein p.191 ff
- Bowen, Wayne H. (2007). The history of Saudi Arabia. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-313-34012-3.
- Chatterji, Nikshoy C. (1973). Muddle of the Middle East, Volume 2. p. 168. ISBN 0-391-00304-6.
- Bowen, Wayne H. (2007). The history of Saudi Arabia. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-0-313-34012-3.
- Harris, Ian; Mews,Stuart; Morris, Paul; Shepherd, John (1992). Contemporary religions: a world guide. p. 369. ISBN 978-0-582-08695-1.
- Faksh, Mahmud A. (1997). The future of Islam in the Middle East. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-0-275-95128-3.
- "Reining in Riyadh" by D. Gold, 6 April 2003, NYpost (JCPA)
- "The Saud Family and Wahhabi Islam". Library of Congress Country Studies.
- Murphy, David (2008). The Arab Revolt 1916–18: Lawrence Sets Arabia Ablaze. pp. 5–8. ISBN 978-1-84603-339-1.
- Al Rasheed, Madawi (1997). Politics in an Arabian oasis: the Rashidis of Saudi Arabia. p. 81. ISBN 1-86064-193-8.
- Anderson, Ewan W.; Fisher, William Bayne (2000). The Middle East: geography and geopolitics. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-415-07667-8.
- Dekmejian, R. Hrair (1994). Islam in revolution: fundamentalism in the Arab world. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-8156-2635-0.
- Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary (205). The Encyclopedia of World War I. p. 565. ISBN 978-1-85109-420-2.
- Hourani, Albert (2005). A History of the Arab Peoples. pp. 315–319. ISBN 978-0-571-22664-1.
- Wynbrandt, James; Gerges, Fawaz A. (2010). A Brief History of Saudi Arabia. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-8160-7876-9.
- Lacey, Robert (2009). Inside the Kingdom. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0-09-953905-6.
- El Ghonemy, Mohamad Riad (1998). Affluence and poverty in the Middle East. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-415-10033-5.
- Al-Rasheed, Madawi (2010). A History of Saudi Arabia. pp. 136–137. ISBN 978-0-521-74754-7.
- Viola, Joy Winkie (1986). Human resources development in Saudi Arabia: Multinationals and Saudization. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-88746-070-8.
- Rabasa, Angel; Benard, Cheryl; Chalk, Peter; and Fair; Christine (2005). The Muslim world after 9/11. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8330-3712-1.
- Jones, Toby Craig (2010). Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. pp. 218–219. ISBN 978-0-674-04985-7.
- Hegghammer, Thomas (2010). Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism Since 1979. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-521-73236-9.
- Cordesman, Anthony H. (2003). Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-275-98091-7.
- Abir, Mordechai (1993). Saudi Arabia: government, society, and the Persian Gulf crisis. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-415-09325-5.
- Robert Fisk, The Great War For Civilisation (2005), p.23.
- Blanchard, Christopher (2009). Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations. United States Congressional Research Service. pp. 5–6.
- Hegghammer, Thomas (2010). Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism Since 1979. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-521-73236-9.
- Al-Rasheed, Madawi (2010). A History of Saudi Arabia. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-521-74754-7.
- Cordesman, Anthony H. (2009). Saudi Arabia: national security in a troubled region. pp. 50–52. ISBN 978-0-313-38076-1.
- "Flood sparks rare action". Montreal Gazette. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2011.[dead link]
- "Dozens detained in Saudi over flood protests". The Peninsula (Qatar)/Thomson-Reuters. 29 January 2011. Archived from the original on 31 January 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
- Fisk, Robert (5 May 2011). "Saudis mobilise thousands of troops to quell growing revolt". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
- "Saudi king announces new benefits". Al Jazeera English. 23 February 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- al-Suhaimy, Abeed (23 March 2011). "Saudi Arabia announces municipal elections". Asharq al-Awsat. Archived from the original on 2 April 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Abu-Nasr, Donna (28 March 2011). "Saudi Women Inspired by Fall of Mubarak Step Up Equality Demand". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 2 April 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- "Saudis vote in municipal elections, results on Sunday". Oman Observer (Agence France-Presse). 30 September 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-12-14. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- Cavendish, Marshall (2007). World and Its Peoples: the Arabian Peninsula. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7614-7571-2.
- Robbers, Gerhard (2007). Encyclopedia of world constitutions, Volume 1. p. 791. ISBN 0-8160-6078-9.
- The Economist Intelligence Unit. "The Economist Democracy Index 2010". The Economist. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- Noreng, Oystein (2005). Crude power: politics and the oil market. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-84511-023-9.
- "Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: Saudi Arabia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Long, David E. (2005). Culture and Customs of Saudi Arabia. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-313-32021-7.
- Cavendish, Marshall (2007). World and Its Peoples: the Arabian Peninsula. pp. 92–93. ISBN 978-0-7614-7571-2.
- Al Rasheed, Madawi (2010). A History of Saudi Arabia. pp. 180, 242–243, 248, 257–258. ISBN 978-0-521-74754-7.
- Barenek, Ondrej (2009). "Divided We Survive: A Landscape of Fragmentation in Saudi Arabia". Middle East Brief (Brandeis University Crown Center for Middle East Studies) (33). Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- "Saudi Arabia gives women right to vote". The Guardian (London). 25 September 2011.
- Campbell, Christian (2007). Legal Aspects of Doing Business in the Middle East. p. 265. ISBN 978-1-4303-1914-6. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
- Library of Congress, Federal Research Division (2006). "Country Profile: Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- "The House of Saud: rulers of modern Saudi Arabia". Financial Times. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- Bowen, Wayne H. (2007). The history of Saudi Arabia. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-313-34012-3.
- "Saudi King Abdullah to go to US for medical treatment". BBC News. 21 November 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- "Biographies of Ministers". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, DC. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- "Prince Salman resumes duties at governorate". Arab News. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- Owen, Roger (2000). State, power and politics in the making of the modern Middle East. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-415-19674-1.
- "When kings and princes grow old". The Economist. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Kostiner, Joseph (2009). Conflict and cooperation in the Persian Gulf region. p. 236. ISBN 978-3-531-16205-8.
- David, Steven R. (2008). Catastrophic consequences: civil wars and American interests. pp. 33–34. ISBN 978-0-8018-8989-9.
- MacFarquhar, Neil (22 October 2011). "Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz of Saudi Arabia Dies". New York Times.
- Obituary: Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
- Reed, Jennifer Bond; Brenda, Lange (2006). Saudi Royal Family. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7910-9218-7.;Cordesman, Anthony H. (2003). Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century. pp. 47,142. ISBN 978-0-275-98091-7.;Alianak, Sonia (2007). Middle Eastern leaders and Islam: a precarious equilibrium. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-8204-6924-9.; Bowen, Wayne H. (2007). The history of Saudi Arabia. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-313-34012-3.; "The corrupt, feudal world of the House of Saud". The Independent (London). 14 May 2003. Retrieved 21 June 2011.; from the 1990s:Abir, Mordechai (1993). Saudi Arabia: government, society, and the Persian Gulf crisis. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-415-09325-5.; Davis, M. Jane (1996). Security issues in the post-cold war world. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-85898-334-9.; from the 1980s: Holden, William (1982). Saudi Arabia and its royal family. pp. 154–156. ISBN 0-8184-0326-8.; Curtis, Michael (1986). The Middle East reader. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-88738-101-0.
- Burbach, Roger; Clarke, Ben (2002). September 11 and the U.S. war: beyond the curtain of smoke. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-87286-404-7.
- Freedom House (2005). Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa: A Freedom in the World Special Edition. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-7425-3775-0.
- Bergman, Lowell (9 October 2001). "A Nation Challenged: The Plots; Saudi Arabia Also a Target Of Attacks, U.S. Officials Say". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- Ottaway, David (2008). The King's Messenger. Prince Bandar Bin Sultan and America's Tangled Relationship with Saudi Arabia. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-8027-1690-3.
- Robertson, David (7 June 2007). "Saudi bribe claims delay £20bn fighter deal". The Times (London). Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- "Interview: Bandar Bin Sultan". PBS. 2001. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- Cordesman, Anthony H.; Corobaid; Nawaf (2005). National Security in Saudi Arabia: Threats, Responses, and Challenges. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-275-98811-1.
- Leigh, David; Evans, Rob (7 June 2007). "BAE accused of secretly paying £1bn to Saudi prince". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 June 2011.; Herman, Michael (20 September 2007). "BAE Systems sued over alleged Saudi bribes". The Times (London). Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- Jordan, Dearbail; Buckley, Christine (11 June 2007). "Prince Bandar denies BAE bribery claims". The Times (London). Retrieved 9 July 2011.
- "Lord Goldsmith defends BAE Systems plea deal". BBC News. 6 February 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- "Corruption Perceptions Index 2010". Transparency International. 15 December 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "Saudi king speeds reforms". The Financial Times. 15 February 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2011.;"Prince Naif appointed deputy Saudi PM". The Financial Times. 27 March 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
- "Reform in Saudi Arabia: At a snail's pace". The Economist. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
- Goldstein, Natalie; Brown-Foster; Walton (2010). Religion and the State. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-8160-8090-8.
- Federal Research Division (2004). Saudi Arabia A Country Study. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-4191-4621-3.
- Nawaf E. Obaid (Sept. 1999). "The Power of Saudi Arabia's Islamic Leaders". Middle East Quarterly VI (3): 51–58. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- Farsy, Fouad (1992). Modernity and tradition: the Saudi equation. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-874132-03-5.
- Hassner, Ron Eduard (2009). War on sacred grounds. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-8014-4806-5.
- Abir, Mordechai (1987). Saudi Arabia in the oil era: regime and elites : conflict and collaboration. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7099-5129-2.
- Abir, Mordechai (1993). Saudi Arabia: government, society, and the Persian Gulf crisis. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-415-09325-5.
- Bakri, Nada (29 November 2010). "Abdullah, King of Saudi Arabia". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- Abir, Mordechai (1987). Saudi Arabia in the oil era: regime and elites : conflict and collaboration. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7099-5129-2.
- Wilson, Peter W.; Graham, Douglas (1994). Saudi Arabia: the coming storm. p. 16. ISBN 1-56324-394-6.
- Long, David E. (2005). Culture and Customs of Saudi Arabia. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-313-32021-7.
- International Business Publications (2011). Saudi Arabia King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Handbook. ISBN 0-7397-2740-0.
- Nyrop, Richard F. (2008). Area Handbook for the Persian Gulf States. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-4344-6210-7.
- Bligh, Alexander (1985). "The Saudi religious elite (Ulama) as participant in the political system of the kingdom". International Journal of Middle East Studies 17: 37–50. doi:10.1017/S0020743800028750.
- Mattar, Philip (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa: Vol.1 A-C. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-02-865770-7.
- Bowen, Wayne H. (2007). The history of Saudi Arabia. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-313-34012-3.
- Hefner, Robert W. (2011). Shari'a Politics: Islamic Law and Society in the Modern World. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-253-22310-4.
- Campo, Juan Eduardo (2006). Encyclopedia of Islam. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-8160-5454-1.
- Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. pp. 161–162. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4.
- Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. p. 157. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4.
- Esposito, John L. (1998). Islam and politics. pp. 110–112. ISBN 978-0-8156-2774-6.
- Campbell, Christian (2007). Legal Aspects of Doing Business in the Middle East. pp. 268–269. ISBN 978-1-4303-1914-6.
- "Tentative steps in Saudi Arabia: The king of Saudi Arabia shows some reformist credentials". The Economist. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
- "Support for shake-up of Saudi justice system". The Financial Times. 4 October 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Saudi Arabian justice: Cruel, or just unusual?". The Economist. 14 June 2001. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
- "Analysis: Saudi rough justice". BBC News. 28 March 2000. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- Shoult, Anthony (2006). Doing business with Saudi Arabia. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-905050-06-2.
- Human Rights Watch (2008). Precarious Justice. pp. 3, 4, 101, 102, 108–115. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- "Saudi Justice?". CBS News. 5 December 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. p. 175. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4.
- Federal Research Division (2004). Saudi Arabia A Country Study. p. 304. ISBN 978-1-4191-4621-3.
- "Saudi executioner tells all". BBC News. 5 June 2003. Retrieved 11 July 2011.; Miethe, Terance D.; Lu, Hong (2004). Punishment: a comparative historical perspective. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-521-60516-8.
- Stanglin, Douglas (19 June 2012). "Saudi man beheaded for witchcraft, sorcery". USA Today (Washington DC). Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Miethe, Terance D.; Lu, Hong (2004). Punishment: a comparative historical perspective. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-521-60516-8.; "2010 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia". U.S. State Department. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011.; "2009 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia". U.S. State Department. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2011.; "2008 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia". U.S. State Department. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2011.; "2007 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia". U.S. State Department. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- "Report: Saudi girl accepts lashing for assaulting headmistress". CNN. 24 January 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- "Saudis Face Soaring Blood-Money Sums". The Washington Post. 27 July 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- Al-Rasheed, Madawi (2010). A History of Saudi Arabia. pp. 250–252. ISBN 978-0-521-74754-7.
- Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. pp. 168, 172. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4.
- "United Nations Member States". United Nations.
- "The foreign policy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saudi Arabia. 5 July 2005. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- "No politics for Ben Ali in Kingdom". Arab News. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- "Arab leaders issue resolutions, emphasize Gaza reconstruction efforts". Kuwait News Agency. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
- David, J Jonsson (2006). Islamic Economics and the Final Jihad. pp. 249–250. ISBN 978-1-59781-980-0.
- David, J Jonsson (2006). Islamic Economics and the Final Jihad. p. 250. ISBN 978-1-59781-980-0.
- "Jihad and the Saudi petrodollar". BBC News. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- Malbouisson, Cofie D. (2007). Focus on Islamic issues. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-60021-204-8.
- "Fueling Terror". Institute for the Analysis of Global Terror. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
- Malbouisson, Cofie D. (2007). Focus on Islamic issues. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-60021-204-8.
- Ménoret, Pascal (2005). The Saudi enigma: a history. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-84277-605-6.
- Walker, Peter (22 November 2007). "Iraq's foreign militants 'come from US allies'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 30 July2011.
- Burnell, Peter J.; Randall, Vicky (2007). Politics in the developing world. p. 449. ISBN 978-0-19-929608-8.
- Wiktorowicz, Quintan (2004). Islamic activism: a social movement theory approach. p. 255. ISBN 978-0-253-34281-2.
- Al-Rasheed, Madawi (2010). A History of Saudi Arabia. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-521-74754-7.
- Kaim, Markus (2008). Great powers and regional orders: the United States and the Persian Gulf. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7546-7197-8.
- Al-Rasheed, Madawi (2010). A History of Saudi Arabia. pp. 178, 222. ISBN 978-0-521-74754-7.
- Declan Walsh (5 December 2010). "WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- Bakri, Nada (29 November 2010). "Abdullah, King of Saudi Arabia". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Black, Ian; Tisdall, Simon (28 November 2010). "Saudi Arabia urges US attack on Iran to stop nuclear programme". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 30 July 2011.
- Watson, Mark (2008). Prophets and princes: Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the present. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-470-18257-4.
- Black, Ian (31 January 2011). "Egypt Protests could spread to other countries". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "Country Profile: Saudi Arabia, Sept. 2006 Library of Congress" (PDF). Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- John Pike (27 April 2005). "Saudi Arabian National Guard". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- SAUDI ARABIA[dead link]
- "Arms for the King and His Family". Jcpa.org. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Gardner, Charles (1981). British Aircraft Corporation. A history by Charles Gardner. B.T. Batsford Ltd. pp. 224–249. ISBN 0-7134-3815-0.
- O'Connell, Dominic (20 August 2006). "BAE cashes in on £40bn Arab jet deal". The Sunday Times (London: News International). Retrieved 22 August 2006.
- "Saudi Arabia". Reuters. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- "Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublands". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Stokes, Jamie (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East, Volume 1. p. 605. ISBN 978-0-8160-7158-6.
- "CIA World Factbook – Rank Order: Area". The World Factbook. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
- Peter Vincent (2008). Saudi Arabia: an environmental overview. Taylor & Francis. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-415-41387-9. Retrieved 22 August 2010.
- "Saudi Arabia". Weather Online. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
- "Saudi Arabia: Administrative divisions". arab.net. Retrieved 21 September 2008
- "World Proved Reserves of Oil and Natural Gas, Most Recent Estimates". Eia.doe.gov. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Country Profile Study on Poverty: Saudi Arabia (archived from the original[dead link] on 26 February 2008)
- "CPI Inflation Calculator". Data.bls.gov. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "The impact of oil price volatility on welfare in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: implications for public investment decision-making". KAPSARC. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "Crude Oil Reserves". Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Simmons, Matthew (2005) [10 June 2005]. Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-73876-3.
- Six New Economic cities in Saudi Arabia[dead link]
- Construction boom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE[dead link]
- "Riyadh's Urban area will contribute $ 167 B and Jeddah's will contribute $ 111 Billion". Citymayors.com. 11 March 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Roy Gutman (4 December 2011). "Saudi dissidents turn to YouTube to air their frustrations". The Kansas City Star.
- Roy Gutman, McClatchy Newspapers. "Saudi dissidents turn to YouTube to air their frustrations | McClatchy". Mcclatchydc.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "Poverty Hides Amid Saudi Arabia's Oil Wealth". NPR. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "Poverty exists in Saudi Arabia too | The Observers". Observers.france24.com. 28 October 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "Mal3ob 3alena : Poverty in Saudi Arabia English Version". YouTube. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- Hill, Amelia (23 October 2011). "Saudi film-makers enter second week of detention". The Guardian (London).
- by Zak. "A foreign Saudi plot to expose foreign poverty in foreign Saudi " Lebanon Spring". Lebanonspring.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
- "Saudi Arabia". (PDF) The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.
- "Case studies on human rights and fundamental freedoms: a world survey". Willem Adriaan Veenhoven, Winifred Crum Ewing, Stichting Plurale Samenlevingen (1976). p.452. ISBN 90-247-1779-5
- "Religion & Ethics – Islam and slavery: Abolition". BBC. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Black History". Britannica.com. 31 January 1910. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- جريدة الرياض. "جريدة الرياض : سكان المملكة 27 مليوناً بينهم 8 ملايين مقيم". Alriyadh.com. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "Arab versus Asian migrant workers in the GCC countries" (PDF). p. 10. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Yemen's point of no return". Guardian.co.uk. 1 April 2009.
- "Expatriates Can Apply for Saudi Citizenship in Two-to-Three Months". Arabnews.com. 14 February 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "1954 Saudi Arabian Citizenship System". Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "3 million expats to be sent out gradually". Arab News. 21 October 2011.
- Ethnologue: Saudi Arabia Retrieved 24 January 2011
- Mapping the World Muslim Population (October 2009), Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. p. 16 (p. 17 of the PDF).
- Pew Forum. p. 10.
- The Daily Star Lamine Chikhi. 27 11 2010.
- 'The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya', US Congressional Research Service Report, 2008, by Christopher M. Blanchard available from the Federation of American Scientists website.
- "Saudi Arabia: International Religious Freedom Report 2010". U.S. State Department. 17 November 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- Owen, Richard (17 March 2008). "Saudi Arabia extends hand of friendship to Pope". The Times (London). Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- Human Rights Watch (2009). Denied dignity: systematic discrimination and hostility toward Saudi Shia citizens. p. 1. ISBN 1-56432-535-0.
- Human Rights Watch (2009). Denied dignity: systematic discrimination and hostility toward Saudi Shia citizens. pp. 2, 8–10. ISBN 1-56432-535-0.
- Poll shows atheism on the rise in the U.S. retrieved 28 August 2012
- Gay Saudi prince pictured happily with the manservant he beat to death | Mail Online. Dailymail.co.uk (20 October 2010). Retrieved on 9 May 2012.
- WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex | World news. The Guardian (7 December 2010). Retrieved on 9 May 2012.
- Sulaiman, Tosin. Bahrain changes the weekend in efficiency drive, The Times, 2 August 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2008. Turkey has a weekend on Saturday and Sunday
- Arabia: the Cradle of Islam, 1900, S.M.Zwemmer
- Saudi Embassy (US) website – Islam Retrieved 20 January 2011
- Saudi Embassy (US) website – Guardian of the Holy Places Retrieved 20 January 2011
- 'The destruction of Mecca: Saudi hardliners are wiping out their own heritage', The Independent, 6 August 2005. Retrieved 17 January 2011
- Destruction of Islamic Architectural Heritage in Saudi Arabia: A Wake-up Call, The American Muslim. Retrieved 17 January 2011
- ‘Shame of the House of Saud: Shadows over Mecca’, The Independent, 19 April 2006
- ‘Islamic heritage lost as Makkah modernises’ Center for Islamic Pluralism
- World Focus 5 January 2009
- "Babylon & Beyond". Los Angeles Times. 23 December 2008.
- Mostyn, Trevor (24 August 2010). "Ghazi al-Gosaibi obituary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 October 2010.
- "Triumphant Trilogy", by Malu Halasa, Time Magazine, 17 January 2005
- "Sex and the Saudi Girl" feature in The Times 8 July 2007
- "Saudi Arabian Slam Dunk, Fall 1997,Winter 1998, Volume 14, Number 4, Saudi Arabia". Saudiembassy.net. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- Al, Joud. "Saudi women show greater interest in sports and games". Arab News. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- Todor Krastev (21 September 2011). "Men Basketball Asia Championship 1999 Fukuoka (JPN)- 28.08–05.09 Winner China". Todor66.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- ‘Saudi unemployment at 10%’[dead link] Bloomberg, 26 January 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2011
- ‘Saudi Public Opinion: A rare look’ 27 January 2010, Pechter Polls. Retrieved 6 February 2011
- ‘Saudi Arabia by numbers’ 12 February 2010, Pechter Polls. Retrieved 6 February 2011
- 'Jihad in Saudi Arabia: Violence and Pan-Islamism since 1979' by Thomas Hegghammer, 2010, Cambridge Middle East Studies ISBN 978-0-521-73236-9
- ‘Saudi Arabia, a kingdom divided’ The Nation, 22 May 2006. Retrieved 6 February 2011,
- “Saudis confront gap between expectation and reality”, Financial Times, 21 February 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2011
- Spillius, Alex (5 December 2010). "Wikileaks: Saudis 'chief funders of al-Qaeda'". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Khalaf al-Harbi (9 July 2010). "Child abuse: We and the Americans". Arab News. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- Abdul Rahman Shaheen (24 December 2008). "Report alleges rise in child abuse in Saudi Arabia". Gulf News. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Zawawi, Suzan (24 January 2006). "Abuse of Female Domestic Workers Biggest Problem". The Saudi Gazette. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- Evidence of Inbreeding Depression: Saudi Arabia Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, 16 January 2000; Page A01
- Saudi Arabia Awakes to the Perils of Inbreeding New York Times, 1 May 2003
- "2010 Human Rights Report: Saudi Arabia". U.S. State Department. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- World Economic Forum (2010). The Global Gender Gap Report 2010. p. 9. ISBN 978-92-95044-89-0. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- Human Rights Watch (2008). Perpetual Minors: human rights abuses from male guardianship and sex segregation in Saudi Arabia. p. 2. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- Human Rights Watch (2008). Perpetual Minors: human rights abuses from male guardianship and sex segregation in Saudi Arabia. p. 3. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
- Long, David E. (2005). Culture and Customs of Saudi Arabia. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-313-32021-7.
- Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. p. 164. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4.
- Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. p. 163. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4.
- Otto, Jan Michiel (2010). Sharia Incorporated: A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present. p. 165. ISBN 978-90-8728-057-4.
- Dammer,, Harry R.; Albanese, Jay S. (2010). Comparative Criminal Justice Systems. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-495-80989-0.
- Alsharif, Asma (24 May 2011). "Saudi should free woman driver-rights group". Reuters. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
- 'Top Saudi cleric: OK for young girls to wed' CNN, 17 January 2009; Retrieved 18 January 2011
- 'Saudi Human Rights Commission Tackles Child Marriages' Asharq Alawsat, 13 January 2009 (archived from the original on 1 May 2011)
- Mesbah, Rana. "Women's education in Saudi Arabia: the way forward" Retrieved 16 January 2011.
- "Saudi Writer and Journalist Wajeha Al-Huwaider Fights for Women's Rights". MEMRI.
- "New Rights, and Challenges, for Saudi Women". Time. 19 October 2009.
- Zoepf, Katherine (31 May 2010). "Talk of Women's Rights Divides Saudi Arabia". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- Saleh Ambah, Faiza. "Saudi Women Rise in Defense of the Veil". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 June 2010
- "Saudi women rise up after years of absence". Alarabiya.net. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "Saudi Doctor Named Visiting Professor at Johns Hopkins University". Archive.arabnews.com. 11 January 2004. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Women in Saudi Arabia to vote and run in elections BBC News
- "CAMERA Snapshots: Media in the Service of King Abdullah". Blog.camera.org. 9 October 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- Education in Saudi Arabia World Education News and Reviews Retrieved 16 January 2011
- ‘Saudi Arabia's Education Reforms Emphasize Training for Jobs’ The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 October 2010; Retrieved 16 January 2011
- Shea, Nona, et al. (2006). Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerence. Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House. Retrieved 21 September 2008
- Press Release: Revised Saudi Government Textbooks Still Demonize Christians, Jews, Non-Wahhabi Muslims and. Freedom House. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2008
- ‘This medieval Saudi education system must be reformed’, The Guardian, 26 November 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2011
- Reforming Saudi Education Slate 7 September. 2009; Retrieved 16 January 2011
- The Saudi Gazette Retrieved 16 January 2011
Further reading 
- Al Farsy, Fouad (2004) Modernity and Tradition: The Saudi Equation: Panarc International Ltd: ISBN 0-9548740-1-3
- Gardner, Andrew (2004) The Political Ecology of Bedouin Pastoralism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Political Ecology Across Spaces, Scales, and Social Groups, Lisa Gezon and Susan Paulson, eds. Rutgers: Rutgers University Press.
- Jones, John Paul. If Olaya Street Could Talk: Saudi Arabia- The Heartland of Oil and Islam. The Taza Press (2007). ISBN 0-9790436-0-3
- Lippman, Thomas W. "Inside the Mirage: America's Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia" (Westview 2004) ISBN 0-8133-4052-7
- Mackey, Sandra, The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom (Houghton Mifflin, 1987) ISBN 0-395-41165-3
- Matthew R. Simmons, Twilight in the Desert The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, John Wiley & Sons, 2005, ISBN 0-471-73876-X
- Ménoret, Pascal, The Saudi Enigma: A History (Zed Books, 2005) ISBN 1-84277-605-3
- al-Rasheed, Madawi, A History of Saudi Arabia (Cambridge University Press, 2002) ISBN 0-521-64335-X
- Robert Lacey, THE KINGDOM: Arabia & The House of Sa'ud, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc, 1981 (Hard Cover) and Avon Books, 1981 (Soft Cover). Library of Congress: 81-83741 ISBN 0-380-61762-5
- Roger Owen, State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, 3rd Edition (Routledge, 2006) ISBN 0-415-29713-3
- T R McHale, A Prospect of Saudi Arabia, International Affairs Vol. 56 No 4 Autumn 1980 pp622–647
- Turchin, P. 2007. Scientific Prediction in Historical Sociology: Ibn Khaldun meets Al Saud. History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies. Moscow: KomKniga, 2007. ISBN 5-484-01002-0
- Carmen Bin Laden, Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia, Grand Central Publishing, 2005, SBN 0446694886
- Robert Lacey, Inside the Kingdom, Hutchinson, 2009.
- Weston, Mark, "Prophets and Princes," Wiley, 2008.
- Haghshenas, Seyyed Ali, Saudi Arabia social and political structure and religious minorities.Iran, Tehran, Ettelaat newspaper, June 2010.
|Find more about Saudi Arabia at Wikipedia's sister projects|
|Definitions and translations from Wiktionary|
|Media from Commons|
|Learning resources from Wikiversity|
|News stories from Wikinews|
|Quotations from Wikiquote|
|Source texts from Wikisource|
|Textbooks from Wikibooks|
|Travel information from Wikivoyage|
- Saudi Arabia official government website
- Saudi Arabia entry at The World Factbook
- Saudi Arabia at the Open Directory Project
- Saudi Arabia profile from the BBC News
- Wikimedia Atlas of Saudi Arabia
- Saudi Arabia travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Saudi Arabia web resources provided by GovPubs at the University of Colorado–Boulder Libraries
- Key Development Forecasts for Saudi Arabia from International Futures