Saudi Arabia is an independent nation in Western Asia. With the capital city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 2020 population is estimated at 34,813,882 according to countryaah. The Arabian peninsula has been inhabited for thousands of years by nomadic tribes. At the beginning of the 600s, Islam was born in the city of Mecca and soon spread outside the region. From the 16th century until the First World War, Arabia formally obeyed the Turks in the Ottoman Empire, although local empires were quite self-governing. In the 18th century, a religious revival movement arose, which the clan Al Saud joined while at the same time subjugating large areas. They were lost in rounds during the 19th century, but Al Saud returned at the beginning of the 20th century and laid the foundation for modern Saudi Arabia.
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Archaeological finds indicate that the Arabian Peninsula may have been inhabited as early as 100,000 years ago. The area was probably much more fertile than it is today, but climate change has wiped the surface water and caused the deserts to spread. The millennia closest to the birth of Christ were loosely connected to the peninsula with high culture and well-developed commerce on the peninsula. By the mid-500s, in the West, Hijaz had created hubs for trade routes. Most important were Medina and Mecca. In Mecca, the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, was born around the year 570. For Saudi Arabia political system, please check carswers.
By the time Muhammad died in 632 in Medina, Islam had already reached beyond the borders of the country. A hundred years later, Islam had spread from Spanish Seville in the west to Samarkand in the east, and its center had been moved, first to Damascus and then to Baghdad. Arabia, which was for a time united under the influence of Islam, was divided and rejoined the periphery. However, Mecca and Medina remained the most sacred places and destinations of pilgrimage for the Muslims.
In the 16th century, the Arabian Peninsula came under Turkish rule in the Ottoman Empire. Local tribal leaders nevertheless retained control over their various areas. At the same time, European traders – Portuguese, British, Dutch and French – began to arrive.
In the 18th century, a religious revival arose, striving for a return to original Islam. It was led by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), and his purely interpretive interpretation of Islam in the West has been called Wahhabism. His teachings were supported by the clan Saud, the lineage that reigns in modern Saudi Arabia. Saudi politics is still based on this old alliance (see Political system).
Wahhabism spread rapidly across the Arabian Peninsula, but the kingdom of Saud collapsed towards the end of the 19th century under pressure from, among others, Turks and British. The family sought asylum in the area that is today Kuwait. From there, the young Abd al-Aziz, known in the west as Ibn Saud (“Saud’s son”), in 1901, went out with a small group of followers and had a year later recaptured the family’s old hometown of Riyadh. He proclaimed ruler over Najd and established what has come to be called the third Saudi kingdom.
In retrospect, Ibn Saud also regained control over the provinces of Hasa, Asir and Hijaz. Ibn Saud was a devout Muslim and rooted for Wahhabism but also strived for increased power. He married daughters of various tribal chiefs to make sure of their loyalty.
In 1932, Ibn Saud merged the Kingdom of Hijaz with the Sultanate of Najd and proclaimed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 1933 the search for oil began and five years later the first discovery was made. By then, American companies had already obtained production rights. The old British influence on the Arabian Peninsula waned and the United States became the future guarantor of the royal house of Saud.
Protestant long prison sentence
A Shiite Muslim is sentenced to 30 years in prison for throwing gas bombs at police during a demonstration in 2011. Protesters turned against Saudi Arabia sending troops to Bahrain to help the government there to quell a Shiite uprising.
Police action against illegal migrant workers
The police start looking for illegal guest workers (compare April 2013). At least five people are killed in clashes between police and guest workers. Since April, when immigrants were given a number of months to adapt to new rules, about a million guest workers have left the country.
Criticism of increased abuse
The UN Human Rights Council and Amnesty International claim that the number of human rights violations has increased in the country in recent years as many democracy activists have been arrested and tortured. Particular criticism is directed at the prison sentences against two activists in March.
Protests against ban on female drivers
Women who campaign on social media for women’s right to drive are urging their fellow sisters to demonstrate against the ban by going out and running last weekend in October. Authorities threaten to punish those who try but a handful of women post videos on Youtube showing them in full action behind the wheel. According to organizers, some 60 women join in a demonstration. A handful of them are arrested by police and forced to pay fines.
Saudi Arabia forfeits chance to seat in Security Council
Saudi Arabia is nominated for one of the non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council but declines no, citing the UN’s commitment to double standards and the failure of the World Organization to create peace in Syria and other conflict hearings. This is the first time in UN history that a country has declined a seat on the Security Council. The decision stirs up great resentment and is interpreted as a sign of a new more US-critical foreign policy on the part of Saudi Arabia (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
Blogger Raif Badawi is sentenced to prison
Raif Badawi is sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 whips. He has been accused of apostasy and of insulting Islam. According to the court, he has started an internet forum that “contradicts Islamic values and propagates for liberal thought”. Badawi has been detained since June 2012.
Rebellion for female car drivers
A network uprising starts for women’s right to drive a car. 16,000 people sign the call before it is blocked by the authorities.
Islamists are sentenced to prison
A special court sentenced eleven people, including an unspecified number of foreign nationals, to prison for up to 15 years for activities related to al-Qaeda. In another case, two Shiite men are sentenced to eight and nine years in prison respectively for participating in regime-critical protests in the Eastern Province.
Further sentenced to prison
Seven activists are sentenced to prison for between five and ten years for calling on Facebook for protests against the regime.
New Acpra leader sentenced to prison
The new leader of the human rights organization Acpra (see March 2013), Abdulkarim al-Khader, is sentenced to eight years in prison for incitement for propagating a constitutional monarchy and free elections.
Suspected Iranian spies arrested
Ten people have been arrested and accused of spying on Iran. In March, 18 people were arrested for the same, including 16 Shi’ite Saudi, one Iranian and one Lebanese. The arrests are condemned by a number of the country’s Shiite leaders. The government in Iran denies that the country is spying on Saudi Arabia.
Tighter rules for migrant workers
The authorities announce that, according to new rules, all foreign workers must have an employer responsible for them. In the past, some have worked without contracts. Those who do not meet the requirements are given a number of months to arrange the matter, then threaten expulsion.
Fences are being built against Yemen
It is known that Saudi Arabia has begun to build a fence along the country’s border with Yemen in the south. The purpose is to try to stop the trafficking of smugglers and illegal immigrants as a result of the deteriorating security situation in Yemen. The fence building is preceded by five Saudi soldiers losing their lives in clashes with armed smugglers.
Long sentences for human rights activists in Acpra
Mohammed al-Qahtani is sentenced to ten years and Abdullah al-Hamid receives six years’ imprisonment for a previous sentence of five years in prison. In addition, their organization dissolves the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (Acpra). The organization has worked for increased democracy in Saudi Arabia and documented human rights abuses. For the sake of unusualness, the trial is conducted completely openly.
Death sentences are executed after review
Following appeals from human rights organizations, the executions are postponed by seven Saudi men, some of whom must have been minors when arrested for armed robbery. The men say they were tortured until they recognized and that they did not have access to a lawyer. However, after the judgments have been reviewed, executions are carried out a week later.
US revelation about secret aviation base
US media reveal that two years ago the United States had a secret air base in Saudi Arabia from which driverless aircraft, so-called drones, have been able to attack targets in neighboring countries.
Women get a place in the advisory ward
King Abdullah issues a decree giving women a fifth of the 150 seats in the Majlis al-Shura Advisory Assembly. In order for the female members not to interfere with their male colleagues, the room where the shura holds meetings should be provided with a special entrance for women. They should also sit in a secluded place in the hall.