Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by.
— Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963
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Saudi Arabia

Background

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman Al SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. A male descendent of Ibn Saud, his son ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz, rules the country today as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law. 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. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong on-going campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. King ABDALLAH has continued the cautious reform program begun when he was crown prince. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide from February through April 2005 for half the members of 179 municipal councils. In December 2005, King ABDALLAH completed the process by appointing the remaining members of the advisory municipal councils. The king instituted an Inter-Faith Dialogue initiative in 2008 to encourage religious tolerance on a global level; in February 2009, he reshuffled the cabinet, which led to more moderates holding ministerial and judicial positions, and appointed the first female to the cabinet. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds more than 20% of the world's proven oil reserves. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in December 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the kingdom. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all ongoing governmental concerns.

About

Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country that occupies most of the Arabian peninsula and has both Persian Gulf and Red Sea coast lines. Its surrounding countries are Jordan to the northwest, Iraq to the northeast, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar to the east, United Arab Emirates to the south east, Oman and Yemen to the south.

Saudi Arabia contains the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina, to which all physically and financially able Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage at least once if possible (see Hajj).

Read more about Saudi Arabia in our Saudi Arabia travel guide »

A travel warning has been issued for Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia

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Featured hotels in

Saudi Arabia

Saudi ArabiaMakkah Clock Royal Tower - A Fairmont Hotel 

King Abdul Aziz Endownment
of the Two Holy Mosques
Mecca 21955
Saudi Arabia

Price (US$): $466 - $986 / night

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Location. Makkah Clock Royal Tower A Fairmont Hotel is a business friendly hotel located in central Mecca, close to Abraj Al Bait Towers, King Fahad Gate, and Masjid al Haram. Additional points of interest include Kaaba and Jannat Al Moaalah Graveyard. Hotel Features. Dining options at Makkah Clock Royal Tower A Fairmont Hotel include a coffee shop/café and a snack bar/deli. Room service is available 24 hours a day. This 5 star property offers technology support staff and limo/town car… more »

Saudi ArabiaJeddah Marriott Hotel 

Palestine Rd. Corner PR Fahad Street
PO Box 6448
Jeddah 21442
Saudi Arabia

Price (US$): $225 - $292 / night

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Location. Jeddah Marriott Hotel is a business friendly hotel located in central Jeddah, close to Qishla of Jeddah. Other area points of interest include Makkah Gate and Nasseef House. Hotel Features. Jeddah Marriott Hotel features a coffee shop/café. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves buffet breakfasts each morning in the restaurant (surcharges apply). Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a health club, a spa tub, a sauna, and a steam room. Spa amenities… more »

Saudi ArabiaCourtyard Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter 

Al Hada District
Al Sahmi Street
Riyadh 11546
Saudi Arabia

Price (US$): $226 - $453 / night

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Location. Courtyard Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter is a business friendly hotel located in Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter neighborhood, close to King Abdulaziz Conference Center. Other area points of interest include King Saud University and Al Faisaliyah Tower. Hotel Features. Courtyard Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves full breakfasts each morning in the restaurant (surcharges apply). Recreational… more »

Saudi ArabiaRamada Al Qassim Hotel And Suites 

King Abdulaziz Road
Bukayriah 51941
Saudi Arabia

Price (US$): $100 - $101 / night

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Location. Ramada Al Qassim Hotel And Suites is located in the midtown area of Bukayriah. Hotel Features. Ramada Al Qassim Hotel And Suites features a coffee shop/café. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an indoor pool, a spa tub, a sauna, a fitness facility, and a steam room. This 5 star property has a business center and offers audiovisual equipment. This Bukayriah property has event space consisting of banquet facilities and conference/meeting rooms.… more »

Saudi ArabiaMoevenpick Beach Resort Al Khobar 

Aziziya, Half Moon Bay Road
Al Khobar 31952
Saudi Arabia

Price (US$): $480 - $1066 / night

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Location. Moevenpick Beach Resort Al Khobar is located in Al Khobar, close to Scitech Museum and Al Rashed Mall. Additional area points of interest include King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Resort Features. Dining options at Moevenpick Beach Resort Al Khobar include a restaurant and a coffee shop/café. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a health club, a spa tub, and a sauna. This 4.5 star… more »

Browse more hotels in Saudi Arabia »

Saudi Arabia

Full name
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Capital
Riyadh
Location

Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen

Geographic coordinates

25 00 N, 45 00 E

Area comparative

slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US

Border countries

Iraq 814 km, Jordan 744 km, Kuwait 222 km, Oman 676 km, Qatar 60 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,458 km

Coastline

2,640 km

Climate

harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes

Terrain

mostly uninhabited, sandy desert

Lowest point

Persian Gulf 0 m

Highest point

Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper

Population

25,731,776

Ethnic groups

Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Religions

Muslim 100%

Languages

Arabic (official)

Government type

monarchy

Independence

23 September 1932 (unification of the kingdom)

National holiday

Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)

Chief of state

King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SULTAN bin Abd al- Aziz Al Saud (half brother of the monarch); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government

King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005); Deputy Prime Minister SULTAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud; Second Deputy Prime Minister NAYIF bin Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud

Internet country code

.sa

Internet users

9.774 million (2009)

Airports

217 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Jiddah, Yanbu' al Sinaiyah

Other countries in the region