Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: Facts & Figures

Flag: Green background, with in white letters the Muslim creed in Arabic: “There is no god but God: Muhammad is the Messenger of God.


Emblem: A palm tree, representing vitality and growth, and two crossed swords, symbolizing justice and strength rooted in faith.

Location: Southwest Asia, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa; extending from the Red Sea in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east; bordered on the north by Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait, on the south, by Yemen and Oman, and on the east by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.

Terrain: Varied; fairly barren and harsh, with salt flats, gravel plains and sand deserts; a few man-made lakes but no permanent streams; in the south, the Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest sand desert in the world; in the southwest, mountain ranges of over 9,000 feet.

Climate: June through August, over 110 degrees Fahrenheit midday in the desert; humidity in coastal regions up to 100 percent; elsewhere, mild; possible winter temperatures in the northern and central regions dropping below freezing; rainfall, from none at all for up to 10 years in the Rub Al-Khali, to 20 inches a year in the mountains of Asir Province.

Religion: Islam, which is the basis of the legal system and of government.

Language: Arabic; English widely spoken in urban areas.

Population: As of 2001, 22.1 million, including about 6 million expatriates.

National Day: September 23, commemorating the foundation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

Rulers: King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al-Saud, the founder (1932-1963), followed by his sons: King Saud (1953-1964), King Faisal (1964-1975), King Khalid (1975-1982), King Fahd bin Abdulaziz (1923-2005) and the current ruler, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (1924-present).

Government: Islamic state based on principles prescribed by the Qur’an (Islam’s Holy Book) and the Shari’ah (Islamic law); Provincial Council System, Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura), and Council of Ministers.

The 13 Provinces and their Capitals
Riyadh Province Riyadh
Makkah Province Makkah
Madinah Province Madinah
Qasim Province Buraidah
Eastern Province Dammam
Asir Province Abha
Tabuk Province Tabuk
Hail Province Hail
Northern Border Province Ar’ar
Jizan Province Jizan
Najran Province Najran
Baha Province Baha
Jouf Province Sakakah
The 21 Government Ministries
Civil Service
Commerce and Industry
Communications and Information Technology
Culture and Information
Defense and Aviation
Economy and Planning
Foreign Affairs
Health – Higher Education
Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance
Labor and Social Affairs
Municipal and Rural Affairs
Petroleum and Mineral Resources
Water and Electricity

Affiliations: Founding member of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), United Nations, League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); member of many international organizations, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and applicant for membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Telecom: Country code 966; area codes Riyadh – 1, Jeddah/Makkah/Taif – 2, Dammam/Dhahran – 3, Madinah/Tabuk/Yanbu – 4.

Time: Greenwich Mean Time plus three (GMT+3) = Eastern Standard Time plus eight (seven during Daylight Savings Time).

Calendar: Islamic (Hijrah), dating from emigration of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah; weekend, Thursday and Friday.

The 12 Months of the Islamic Lunar Year: Muharram, Safar, Rabi’ Al-Awal, Rabi’ Al-Akher, Jumada Al-Awal, Jumada Al-Akher, Rajab, Sha’ban, Ramadan, Shawwal. Dhu Al-Qadah , Dhu Al-Hajjah .

Holidays: closure of all offices and schools on Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast, from the evening of the last day of Ramadan through the third day of Shawwal; and Eid Al-Adha, the culmination of the Hajj, from the tenth through twelfth of Dhu Al-Hajjah.

Business: Government offices Saturday through Wednesday from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm; private businesses from 8:00 am to noon and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; general banking from 8:00 am until noon and from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm and markets and shops from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm.

Currency: Saudi Riyal (SR) pegged to U.S. dollar ($1=SR3.745); bank notes, in Arabic and English, in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 riyals; coins in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 halalahs, with 100 halalahs equal to one riyal; metric system in use.

Airline: Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA)

Resource: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London


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