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20 Fascinating Facts About Saudi Arabia

20 Fascinating Facts About Saudi Arabia

 

1. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and the 12th largest in the world.

2. Saudi Arabia was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1517 to the early 20th century when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.

3. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formally declared in September 1932 when Ibn Saud proclaimed himself as King Abdulaziz.

King Abdulaziz Saudi Arabia

4. The Al Saud dynasty has ruled ever since and holds a monopoly of political power. King Abdulaziz has been succeeded by his descendants.

5. Saudi Arabia has long prevented women from taking on a larger role in its society. Under the Saudi guardianship system, women’s rights are severely restricted. They cannot marry, divorce, travel, get a job or have elective surgery without permission from their male guardians.

6. Until 2018, Saudi Arabia was the world’s only country where women could not drive legally. The law was changed in 2018 following years of campaigning.

7. Saudi women were not allowed to take part in the Olympics until 2012. In 2012, two women took part in the London games, and in 2016 four women took part in the Rio de Janeiro games.

8. Saudi motorists have developed an exciting but dangerous craze known as “sidewalk skiing”, which involves balancing a car on its side while driving.

sidewalk skiing

9. Evidence suggests that modern-day Saudia Arabia has been inhabited for around 125,000 years. Ancient tools discovered in the Arabian Peninsula suggest humans migrated through the region from Africa.

10. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of the world’s second-largest religion, Islam.

11. Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s two holiest shrines Mecca and Medina. Mecca is the holiest of Muslim cities where Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was born in around 570 AD.

Mecca

12. Medina, the second holiest city in Islam, is where Muhammad’s body is entombed. Medina is celebrated as the place where Muhammad established the Muslim community (ummah) after he fled Mecca in 622 AD.

Madina Munawara

13. As such, the Saudi king’s official title is the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”.

14. Mecca is home to one of the world’s largest annual gatherings. Every year, over 2 million Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca to perform the hajj, which is considered the fifth and final Pillar of Islam. Every capable adult Muslim is expected to complete at least one hajj in their lifetime.

15. The Abraj Al Bait Towers in Mecca holds the records for the world’s tallest clock tower, the world’s tallest hotel, and the world’s largest clock face at 43m in diameter.

Abraj Al Bait Towers

16. Saudi Arabia is also building the world’s tallest skyscraper. When complete, Jeddah Tower will be 1,000m (3,280ft) high. Construction was paused in 2018 but is expected to recommence in 2020.

17. In 1975, King Faisal was assassinated by his nephew and succeeded by his brother Khalid.

18. Saudi Arabia is home to the King’s Cup camel race. The epic camel race has up to 2,000 participants and races across a 19km track during the Janadriyah National Festival.

19. Saudia Arabia is an oil-rich nation, possessing around 16% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves. As of 2019, the petroleum sector accounts for around 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.

20. Around 95% of Saudi Arabia is desert.

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