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The Ottomans conquered the empire in the 16th century and ruled it for the next few centuries, till the Al Saud family emerged in the mid-18th century. Muhammad bin Saud, of the House of Saud, together with Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab formed an alliance and soon the dynasty of Saudi Arabia. The dynasty began in Riyadh, under the strict Sunni Islam sect, Wahhabi. The dynasty expanded in the 19th century until being overpowered by another ruling family, the Al Rashid, expelling the Al Saud. The Al Saud came back to rule again in 1902, wresting control of the region from the Ottomans with the help of the British in 1916. The Arab Revolt lasted until 1918, and the Saud family continued its domination and expansion of the Arabian peninsula. The kingdoms of Hejaz and Njed joined together in 1932, becoming the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
When oil was discovered along the Persian Gulf in 1938, Saudi Arabia became a rich country, becoming the largest oil producer in the world by 1976. Though the US had become involved in the oil trade in Saudi Arabia, the Saudis eventually regained control of the industry. During the Iran-Iraq War, Saudi Arabia sought US intervention, helping to repair relations. In 2011, Arab Spring protests broke out in a push for political reformation, achieving new funding for housing and the right for women to vote in the upcoming elections in 2015.
Neighboring Countries :
Saudi Arabia shares borders with Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen, with water boundaries along the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
Major Cities :
- Riyadh (capital)
Saudi Arabia is located on the Arabian Peninsula, making up the majority of its central territory. The Arabian Peninsula's geography is characterized by the Arabian Desert, which includes the world's largest sand desert, called Rub' al Khali. The terrain features red sand dunes and quicksand, a variety of desert species, like lizards and some varieties of large cats, and shrub varieties of plants.
There are coastal plains along the Red Sea, a central plateau, and mountains in the southwest. The highest point in the country is 3,133 meters (10,279 feet) at Mount Sawda. The mountainous region is also the wetter region, receiving much of the country's rainfall. The country is very dry, with no major rivers or lakes, but has wadis or dry creek beds, among which the Wadi Rabigh and Wadi Al-Rummah are the most prominent.
Points of Interest :
Saudi Arabia has many beloved attractions, the most popularly visited of which is the holy city of Islam, Mecca, though only Muslims are allowed to enter the city. The city is visited as part of a religious pilgrimage called Hajj. There are many sacred sites to visit at Mecca, including the Sacred Mosque, Kaaba, and historic religious sites. The other holy city of Islam is Medina, which is often visited as part of Hajj, during which Muslims visit the Prophet's Mosque, Masjid Nabawi.
Important historical sites in Saudi Arabia include the ruins of an ancient city, Madain Saleh, which may soon be a UNESCO site, and the fortress of Najran. Other destinations popular for tourism include resort cities Abha and Taif.
The Empty Quarter, or Rub' al Khali is worth a visit for its towering sand dunes (the tallest of which is Tal Mireb), and its nomadic tribes. In the 2004 film Hidalgo it features as the the "Ocean of Fire" which is the venue of a grueling endurance horse race.
Saudi Arabia has four major international airports, including at the capital, Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina, and Dammam. It's also possible to fly into Bahrain and drive into the country. Air travel is also a good idea for transportation across the country, as it is a largely undeveloped nation in some parts. Saudi Arabia's train system exists but is not well developed, offering limited service to Riyadh, Al-Hofuf, and Dammam. Buses and cars can be used to get into and around Saudi Arabia, and gas prices are very inexpensive, but the country has a high accident rate. Taxis are the best way to get around the towns.
Last Updated on : December 10, 2013
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