(Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, المملكة العربية السعودية, Al-Mamlakah al-‘Arabiyyah as-Su‘ūdiyyah)
Saudi Arabia Flag
- Location: Middle East (Southwestern Asia)
- Capital: Riyadh
- Language(s): Arabic, English
- Population: 28,265,453
- Total Area: 2,149,690 sq km
- Currency: Saudi Riyal
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Alcohol is strictly forbidden in the country.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 0.25 liter
- Most Popular Drink(s): Fruit juices, coffee
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country (by area) in the Arabian Peninsula and by extension, in the Middle East. An absolute monarchy, the kingdom is surrounded by the following countries in the region: Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, United Arab Emirates and Oman. Founded in 1932 by it first king, Abdul Azeez bin Saud, the country is the largest exporter of petroleum in the world and has around a quarter of the world’s oil reserves. The name of the country was derived from the name of the ruling family, the Saud. Almost all parts of the kingdom are dominated by deserts, and in the southern part of the country, there is the largest sand area in the world, and is called the Rub al-Khal which means the Empty Quarter (a very apt description you might say). There are 13 provinces in the country and the capital city is Riyadh.
With a vast land and a relatively small population, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sparsely populated nation. Apart from the ethnic Saudis, there are millions of foreign workers in the country, and they make up around a third of the population. Majority of the foreign nationals are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, the Philippines, Yemen and Sudan. Expatriates from Western Europe and the United States live in special compounds and fortified communities. Almost 98% of the citizens are Muslims and religion is a very sensitive religion in the country. As a tourist, you will do yourself a lot of good by adhering to all the rules and regulations. The country’s laws and government depend greatly on Islamic teachings.
Apart from the strict religious environment of the country, eating in Saudi Arabia is a fantastic experience. Starting from the traditional meals like bread (fatir) to dates, Saudis can be quite simple with what they eat. On the other hand, many Saudis enjoy chicken, wheat, dairy products, rice, beans and spiced dishes, and these are quite common all over the kingdom.
In this absolute Islamic monarchy, alcohol is strictly forbidden although the expatriates consumed it in their communities. In various parts of the country, fruit juices and coffee are quite popular and you will also enjoy the creamy and delicious yogurt served in many restaurants and bars.
It must be known that the sites of pilgrimage like the Ka'aba in Mecca is closed to non-Muslims and that implies that your tourist adventure to the holiest sites in Islam is put on hold if you are not an adherent of the faith. However, that is not to say that there are no places to visit. You can check out the nomads in the deserts and take part in the traditional camel races. You can also visit other cities apart from the capital. These include Dammam, Al Khobar, Jeddah, Tabuk, Buraydah and Abha. Some tourists also visit the sparse beaches along the coast.
Although the country is led by strict Wahabbis, sporting activities are allowed to a certain degree. The Kingdom has a national football team and traditional Arab sports like camel racing, sword fighting and falconry are quite popular.
- Saudi Arabia is the largest producer and exporter of petroleum in the world.
- The Saudi King Abdullah is one of the wealthiest people on the planet.
- The Kingdom is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
- Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies
Story By World By Shotglass
©2013 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).