Saudi Arabia extends to approximately 2,250,000 square kilometers (868,730 square miles) between the Arabian
Gulf on the east and the Red Sea on the west. The Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab country of the Middle East.
It is bordered by Jordan and Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates
on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south. The Arab Gulf lies to the northeast and the
Red Sea to its west. The origins of Saudi Arabia go back as far as 1744 years with the establishment of the
first Saudi State. Saudi Arabia has played a significant role in the international trade for centuries due to
its strategic location which has facilitated the trade between India, China and Europe. Today, travelers to
Saudi Arabia can experience both new and old civilizations side by side.Saudi Arabia traces its roots back to the earliest civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula. Over centuries,
the peninsula has played an important role in history as an ancient trade center and as the birthplace of Islam.
Since King Abdulaziz Al Saud established the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, its transformation has been
astonishing. In a few short decades, Saudi Arabia has turned itself from a desert nation to a modern,
sophisticated state and a major player on the international stage.
An Ancient Trade CentreAn Ancient Trade Centre
Located between the two great centers of civilization, the Nile River Valley and Mesopotamia, the Arabian
Peninsula was the crossroads of the ancient world. Trade was crucial to the area’s development; caravan routes
became trade arteries that made life possible in the sparsely populated peninsula. The people of the peninsula
developed a complex network of trade routes to transport agricultural goods highly sought after in Mesopotamia,
the Nile Valley and the Mediterranean Basin. These items included almonds from Taif, dates from the many oases,
and aromatics such as frankincense and myrrh from the Tihama plain. Spices were also important trade items.
They were shipped across the Arabian Sea from India and then transported by caravans. The huge caravans traveled
from what is now Oman and Yemen, along the great trade routes running through Saudi Arabia’s Asir Province and
then through Makkah and Madinah, eventually arriving at the urban centers of the north and west.
The Islamic EmpireThe Islamic Empire
Less than 100 years after the birth of Islam, the Islamic Empire extended from Spain to parts of Indian
subcontinent and China. Also, a large number of pilgrims began regularly visiting the peninsula, with some
settling in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. These pilgrims facilitated the exchange of ideas and
cultures between the people of the peninsula and other civilizations of the Arab and Muslim worlds. The
emergence of Arabic as the language of international learning was another major factor in the cultural
development of the Arabian Peninsula. The Muslim world became a center for learning and scientific advances
during what is known as the “Golden Age.” Muslim scholars made major contributions in many fields, including
Medicine, Biology, Philosophy, Astronomy, Arts and Literature.
Administrative RegionsAdministrative Regions
Al Baha, Al Jouf, Asir, Eastern, Hail, Jizan, Madinah, Makkah, Najran, Northern Border, Qasim, Riyadh, Tabouk.
Saudi Arabia’s climate differs from one region to another due to its different terrain. In general, the climate
is continental hot summer, cold winter, and its rainfall season is in winter. The climate moderates on the
western and south-western highlands. As for the central areas, it has hot and dry summer, and winter is cool
and dry. The temperature and humidity rise in the coast, and it rains in winter and spring. The rainfall is
scarce for most regions except the south-western highlands of the Kingdom where seasonal rainfall occurs in
summer and is heavier than other areas. The relative humidity rises on the coast and the western highlands in
most time of the year and decreases as we head into the interior.
Daily life and Social CustomsDaily life and Social Customs
Saudi Arabia’s population is composed of nomads, villagers and townspeople. Pervading this triad, however, is
the patrilineal kinship principle. The kinship principle is pervasive in Saudi society, and the extended family
is a strong social unit. Villages constitute local service centres and contain members from more than one tribal
affiliation. Cities are not tribally organized, though the importance of kinship affiliation endures. Social
stratification is more clearly developed in the cities than elsewhere. Before the effects of oil were felt on
the economy, status was a matter of lineage and occupation rather than of wealth. With the development of the
oil industry, however, wealth and material position have acquired an additional social value.