Theme Week Saudi Arabia

Monday, 24 April 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Bon voyage, Theme Weeks
Reading Time:  12 minutes

Medina - Al-Masjid al-Nabawi - The Mosque of the Prophet © flickr.com - Omar Chatriwala/cc-by-2.0

Medina – Al-Masjid al-Nabawi – The Mosque of the Prophet © flickr.com – Omar Chatriwala/cc-by-2.0

Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is an Arab sovereign state in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is geographically the fifth-largest state in Asia and second-largest state in the Arab world after Algeria. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast, and Yemen to the south. It is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert or barren landforms. The state has a total population of 28.7 million, of which 20 million are Saudi nationals and 8 million are foreigners. The state’s official language is Arabic. English is however widely used, even on street signs. The area of modern-day Saudi Arabia formerly consisted of four distinct regions: Hejaz, Najd, and parts of Eastern Arabia (Al-Ahsa) and Southern Arabia (‘Asir). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud. He united the four regions into a single state through a series of conquests beginning in 1902 with the capture of Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud. Saudi Arabia has since been an absolute monarchy, effectively a hereditary dictatorship governed along Islamic lines. The ultraconservative Wahhabi religious movement within Sunni Islam has been called “the predominant feature of Saudi culture”, with its global spread largely financed by the oil and gas trade. Saudi Arabia is sometimes called “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam. Mecca and Medina are however completely blocked for non-Muslims. A violation of this rule will lead to penalties and deportation.

Petroleum was discovered on 3 March 1938 and followed up by several other finds in the Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia has since become the world’s largest oil producer and exporter, controlling the world’s second largest oil reserves, and the sixth largest gas reserves. The kingdom is categorized as a World Bank high-income economy with a high Human Development Index, and is the only Arab country to be part of the G-20 major economies. However, the economy of Saudi Arabia is the least diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, lacking any significant service or production sector (apart from the extraction of resources). Saudi Arabia has the fourth highest military expenditure in the world, and in 2010–14, SIPRI found that Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer. Saudi Arabia is considered a regional and middle power. In addition to the GCC, it is an active member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and OPEC. Saudi Arabia joined the UN in 1945. It plays a prominent role in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and in 2005 joined the World Trade Organization. Saudi Arabia supports the intended formation of the Arab Customs Union in 2015 and an Arab common market by 2020, as announced at the 2009 Arab League summit. Saudi Arabia and the United States are strategic allies, and since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, the U.S. has sold $110 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia. In the Arab and Muslim worlds, Saudi Arabia is considered to be pro-Western and pro-American, and it is certainly a long-term ally of the United States. For the time after the oil, the country is currently working on a very ambitious plan (Saudi Vision 2030 (Arab News: Road to 2030), Saudi Gazette, 22 July 2019: Saudi reforms start to yield results, outlook positive: IMF) for the opening up and internationalization of the economy. It is expected that this will lead to the opening of the society as well. The government has also made an attempt of the “Saudization” the economy, replacing foreign workers with Saudi nationals with limited success. Water supply and sanitation in Saudi Arabia is characterized by significant investments in seawater desalination, water distribution, sewerage and wastewater treatment leading to a substantial increase in access to drinking water and sanitation over the past decades. About 50% of drinking water comes from desalination, 40% from the mining of non-renewable groundwater and 10% from surface water, especially in the mountainous southwest of the country.

Riyadh - Kingdom Tower at night © BroadArrow/cc-by-sa-3.0 Dhahran - Saudi Aramco headquarters © Eagleamn Red sand dunes near Riyadh © Jtamad/cc-by-sa-4.0 Thuwal © Arbitrarily0/cc-by-sa-3.0 Najran Fort © Irshadpp/cc-by-sa-3.0 Medina - Al-Masjid al-Nabawi - The Mosque of the Prophet © flickr.com - Omar Chatriwala/cc-by-2.0 Mecca - Kaaba © Zakaryaamr/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Medina - Al-Masjid al-Nabawi - The Mosque of the Prophet © flickr.com - Omar Chatriwala/cc-by-2.0
Saudi Arabia occupies about 80% of the Arabian Peninsula (the world’s largest peninsula). Because the country’s southern borders with the United Arab Emirates and Oman are not precisely marked, the exact size of the country is undefined. The CIA World Factbook estimates 2,149,690 km2 (830,000 sq mi) and lists Saudi Arabia as the world’s 13th largest state. It is geographically the largest country in the Arabian Plate. Saudi Arabia’s geography is dominated by the Arabian Desert and associated semi-desert and shrubland. It is, in fact, a number of linked deserts and includes the 647,500 km2 (250,001 sq mi) Rub’ al Khali (“Empty Quarter”) in the southern part of the country, the world’s largest contiguous sand desert. There are virtually no rivers or lakes in the country, but wadis are numerous. The few fertile areas are to be found in the alluvial deposits in wadis, basins, and oases. The main topographical feature is the central plateau which rises abruptly from the Red Sea and gradually descends into the Nejd and toward the Persian Gulf. On the Red Sea coast, there is a narrow coastal plain, known as the Tihamah parallel to which runs an imposing escarpment. The southwest province of Asir is mountainous, and contains the 3,133 m (10,279 ft) Mount Sawda, which is the highest point in the country.

Saudi_Vision2030_EN

Saudi Arabia has centuries-old attitudes and traditions, often derived from Arab civilization. This culture has been heavily influenced by the austerely puritanical Wahhabi form of Islam, which arose in the eighteenth century and now predominates in the country. Wahhabi Islam has been called “the predominant feature of Saudi culture.” Although most tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages, there is growth in the leisure tourism sector. According to the World Bank, approximately 14.3 million people visited Saudi Arabia in 2012, making it the world’s 19th-most-visited country. Potential tourist areas include the Hijaz and Sarawat Mountains, Red Sea diving and a number of ancient ruins. In December 2013, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to begin issuing tourist visas for the first time in its history. Council of Ministers entrusted the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage with visa issuing on the basis of certain regulations approved by the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. Saudi Arabian cuisine is similar to that of the surrounding countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and has been influenced by Turkish, Indian, Persian, and African food. Islamic dietary laws are enforced: pork is not allowed and other animals are slaughtered in accordance with halal. A dish consisting of a stuffed lamb, known as khūzī, is the traditional national dish. Kebabs are popular, as is shāwarmā (shawarma), a marinated grilled meat dish of lamb, mutton, or chicken. As in other Arab countries of the Arabian Peninsula, machbūs (kabsa), a rice dish with fish or shrimp, is popular. Flat, unleavened bread is a staple of virtually every meal, as are dates and fresh fruit. Coffee, served in the Turkish style, is the traditional beverage.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Saudi Arabia Tourism, LonelyPlanet.com – Saudi Arabia, Saudi Vision 2030, U.S. Department of State: Saudi Arabia Travel Warning, The National, 27 September 2019: Saudi Arabia announces tourism mega projects with local and global investors, Arab News, 27 September 2019: Saudi Arabia to offer tourist visas for the first time, BBC, 27 September 2019: Saudi Arabia to open up to foreign tourists with new visas, The National, 27 September 2019: Saudi Arabia relaxes dress code for women tourists, The National, 27 September 2019: From NEOM to Ad Diriyah: Saudi Arabia’s ‘giga projects’ and when they are expected to be completed, Saudi Gazette, 28 September 2019: Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 is taking Saudi Arabia in the right direction, Gulf News, 30 September 2019: Saudi Arabia: Your guide to new dress code and public decency code, Arab News, 3 October 2019: Ambassador sees Germans coming soon to Saudi Arabia ‘in large numbers’ as Kingdom opens doors to world tourists, The Guardian, 6 October 2019: Saudi Arabia to allow unmarried foreign couples in hotel rooms, France24, 9 December 2019: Saudi eliminates gender-segregated entrances for eateries, BBC, 9 December 2019: Saudi Arabia ends gender segregation in restaurants, The New York Times, 25 December 2019: Saudi Arabia Wants Your Next Vacation, Arab News, 5 January 2020: National Center for Privatization: Unlocking great value, Arab News, 25 January 2020: Saudi Arabia’s envoy to UK: We need to do a better job of showing who we are, The National, 25 February 2020: Saudi Arabia to expand entertainment complexes to boost leisure tourism, Tourism in Saudi Arabia, Culture of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabian cuisine, Architecture of Saudi Arabia, Economy of Saudi Arabia, Politics of Saudi Arabia, Foreign relations of Saudi Arabia, Wikivoyage Saudi Arabia and Wikipedia Saudi Arabia. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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