World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of The Middel East

Saudi Arabia Travelling Guide
Saudi Arabia Travelling Guide

General background: In 1902 Abd al-Aziz Ibn SAUD captured Riyadh and set out on a 30-year campaign to unify the Arabian Peninsula. In the 1930s, the discovery of oil transformed the country. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all major governmental concerns.

Area comparative: Slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US.

Climate: Harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes.

Terrain: Mostly uninhabited, sandy desert

Population: 23,513,330

Ethnic groups: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Religions: Muslim 100%

Language: Arabic

Government type: Monarchy

Capital: Riyadh

Legal system: Based on Islamic law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: This is an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (26% of the proved reserves), ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 25% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. Riyadh expects to have a budget deficit in 2002, in part because of increased spending for education and other social programs. The government in 1999 announced plans to begin privatising the electricity companies, which follows the ongoing privatisation of the telecommunications company. The government is expected to continue calling for private sector growth to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.

Communication/Telephone system: Modern system.

Places of interest: Home to two of Islam's holiest cities - Mecca and Medina.

Travel tips: Foreigners should be cautious in Saudi Arabia; there have been several bombings since November 2000, some of which were motivated by anti-Western feeling and some by foreign nationals seeking to control the illegal alcohol market. Demonstrations and political gatherings are best avoided.