Saudi Arabia (or officially: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is an Arab country, and it is the largest country in the Middle East by area, and it is located specifically in the southwest of the continent of Asia and constitutes the largest part of the Arabian Peninsula, with an area of about two million square kilometers. It is bordered to the north by the Republic of Iraq and Jordan, to the northeast by the State of Kuwait, to the east by the State of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is linked to Saudi Arabia through the King Fahd Causeway located on the waters of the Arabian Gulf, and to the south it is bordered by Yemen, and the Sultanate of Oman to the south Eastern, as it is bordered by the Red Sea to the west.
The Al Saud historically ruled in Najd and large areas of the Arabian Peninsula more than once, and the current Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is considered a product and heir of those historical entities. The first of these entities is the Emirate of Diriyah, which was founded by Muhammad bin Saud in the year 1157 AH / 1744 and remained until Ibrahim Pasha led the army of the Ottoman governor of Egypt. In a campaign to eliminate it in 1233 AH / 1818 AD, and that stage is referred to as the “First Saudi State”, but it was not long after the fall of the first state that Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad established a new emirate for the House of Saud in Najd, which was taken from Riyadh as the capital and continued until The rulers of the Emirate of Hail wrested the Emirate of Riyadh from the House of Saud in the year 1308 AH / 1891, and that phase is referred to as the “Second Saudi State.” Later, Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the young man, in 1319 AH / 1902 recovered the Emirate of Riyadh from the hands of the Rashid family, and expanded in control of the entire Najd in 1921 and was characterized by the Sultanate of Najd until Abdul Aziz succeeded in wresting the Kingdom of Hijaz from the hands of the Hashemites, so he appointed King of Hijaz in January of 1926, and after that A year later, he changed his title from Sultan Najd to King Najd, and the regions controlled by the Kingdom of Hijaz and Najd and its appurtenances were named, and they remained with that name until Abdul Aziz unified all the regions he controlled into one entity, and that was in 1351 AH / September 23, 1932 and its name was announced «The Kingdom of Arabia Saudi Arabia”.
Saudi Arabia currently consists of 13 administrative regions, each of which is divided into a number of governorates, the number of which varies from region to region, and the province is divided into centers administratively linked to the province or emirate. It contains the Grand Mosque located in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, and the Prophet’s Mosque in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, which are considered the most important holy places for Muslims.
Saudi Arabia is a member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the League of Arab States, the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Muslim World League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of Twenty, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Saudi Arabia enjoys a stable political and economic situation in general, and its economy is oil, as it possesses the second largest oil reserves and the sixth gas reserves, and the largest source of crude oil in the world, which constitutes nearly 90% of exports, and the Kingdom ranks nineteenth among the largest economies in the world, and Saudi Arabia is considered one of the influential powers Politically and economically in the world, due to its Islamic status and economic wealth, its control over oil prices and global supplies, and its large media presence represented by a number of satellite channels and printed newspapers.
Saudi Arabia has a cultural and civilizational heritage dating back thousands of years, and it has also witnessed major changes in the fields of culture, education and the protection of cultural heritage, according to Vision 2030. It is a founding member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and a member of its Executive Board elected in November 2019.
The name of the state is attributed to Saud bin Muhammad Al Muqrin, the great-grandfather of the ruling family, and to him it is attributed, and he was the ruler of Diriyah, and Saud is an Arabic masculine name, and it is the plural of Saad, and it is derived from happiness and means good luck. The name spread and began to be called males in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula in the period after Late Middle Ages.
The first appearance of the name “Saudis” was in correspondence issued by the British, to refer to the men and forces of Ibn Saud. On Jumada al-Awwal 12, 1351 AH, corresponding to August 10, 1932 CE, a meeting of scholars, notables, and representatives of the kingdom’s subjects was held in Taif, and a gathering of citizens saw the need to change the name of the state from the Kingdom of Hejaz and Najd and its annexes to a name that shows the state as a conglomerate unit, and in the light of the results of that meeting, the name was changed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Main article: History of Saudi Arabia
History of the Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is the geographical area that is located in the southwest of the continent of Asia at the confluence of the continent of Asia with the continent of Africa. It has maritime borders from the northwest represented by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, from the south by the Arabian Sea and from the southeast by the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Gulf. The Arabian Peninsula currently includes several countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan.
The total area of the Arabian Peninsula is estimated at three million square kilometers, most of which are unexploited desert areas. Numerous recent geological studies have proven that the Arabian Peninsula was, long ago, a green oasis in which rivers flowed and teemed with various manifestations of life, which made its selection a suitable place for human life since ancient times. The lands of the Arabian Peninsula have many natural resources and bounties that have given the region economic importance and made it an important hub that plays a major and vital role in the international arena. This was clearly demonstrated by the oil discoveries in the past two centuries and the large estimates of oil reserves within its territory.
The Arabian Peninsula was distinguished by its location in the middle of the countries of the ancient Near East, and its influential human role in the formation of the most numerous dynasties among its ancient inhabitants. It also had a share in the role of mediation and influence in some of its lines of communication and economics. The remaining traces indicate that the peninsula passed through successive periods, starting with what was left by the ancient primitive man in the stone ages of stone tools and scattered primitive drawings, and it also mainly includes what was left by the civilized Arab groups in their ancient historical ages of existing architectural monuments such as the remains of temples, walls, dams, forts, towers, dwellings and tombs , and the various effects it contains of daily use tools, adornments, and the arts of sculpture and engraving were found in several regions throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Archaeological discoveries indicated the presence of the oldest historical civilizations on the level of the Arabian Peninsula in the Najran region, and among the oldest civilizations discovered in the peninsula were the civilizations of Al-Ubaid and Dilmun, which flourished in the Al-Ahsa region and the Arabian Gulf, where the oldest traces of human civilization were discovered. Dilmun was mentioned in ancient cuneiform writings Dating back to the third millennium BC and found in Mesopotamia and northern Syria.
A mural found in Qaryat al-Faw, dating back to around the first / second century AD.
Of the civilizations that flourished in the peninsula, the civilization of the people of Ad who inhabited the Arabian Peninsula, and researchers say that the dwellings of Ad were in Al-Ahqaf, located in the south of the Empty Quarter. Among the civilizations that appeared in the peninsula was also the civilization of the people of Thamud, which is among the defunct civilizations that consisted of multiple tribes and clans. It reached a great level of civilization and prosperity in the north of the Arabian Peninsula, and Muslim historians agreed that the most important of their homes was in the Valley of Villages between the Hijaz and the Levant, and traces of them were found in the city of Al-Ula between Medina and Tabuk, and they were after the people of Ad, and they were distinguished by the fact that they carve their homes in the mountains .
The civilization of Midian flourished as well, and they are the ones to whom God sent His Prophet Shuaib, peace be upon him, to order them to worship God Almighty. Their civilization dates back to before the thirteenth century BC. It spread in a region that extends to the east and southeast of the Gulf of Aqaba, and it is expected that it would reach the borders of what is now known as Al-Ula, north of the Hijaz, at the time of its prosperity. They had a great role in controlling trade routes.
There are also many civilizations that followed in the Arabian Peninsula, where the Kingdom of Ma’in flourished, which was established on the banks of Wadi Jouf, which is the plain region located between Najran and Hadramout, whose people were distinguished in the arts of architecture and decoration, which placed the arts of the Ma’in civilization in a high position comparable to the arts of the civilizations of the centers The ancient East in Egypt and Mesopotamia, as they excelled in agriculture and industry and were also famous for trade, and their influence extended to some regions in the north of the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, and ancient inscriptions found in the city of Al-Ula near Wadi Al-Qura belong to them. The fame of the Ma’inite civilization increased until it reached the centers of the civilizations of the ancient world, and the classics from Greece and Romans wrote about it, as well as the Italian and French archaeological missions that carried out excavations in sites from the land of Al-Jawf. Others work independently of it.
After the Arabian Peninsula remained a period of turmoil, economic and political instability, and many Arab tribes perished, fell into captivity, or were forced to abandon their original habitats, the golden age of Arab civilization came with the advent of Islam, when the Messenger of Islam, Muhammad, was sent to the Arabian Peninsula, to spread Islam. In it, the call continued until it reached outside it, east and west, which distinguished Islamic civilization in that it was not based on racial discrimination for a particular group or group, which created a suitable environment for the diversity of creativity among the various Islamic peoples.
The Islamic state took Medina as its capital and its borders expanded during the era of the Prophet Muhammad and during the era of his rightly guided successors to include all parts of the Arabian Peninsula and then turned outside of it, but the peninsula was not devoid of exciting events, especially those that took place after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, most notably the wars of apostasy that took place. It took place during the era of Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq, in which he worked to eliminate the apostates from Islam. Then the center of the caliphate moved after the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs to Damascus during the period of the rule of the Umayyad state, and the peninsula in that period belonged to the Umayyad state, which relied on the support of the Arab tribes and worked to consolidate the principles of Islam in the countries they conquered, and science flourished in the Umayyad era, and after that came the state The Abbasid caliphate, in which the center of the caliphate moved from Damascus to Baghdad, to enhance the position of the Arabian Gulf as a sea route for trade with China and the countries of East Africa, at the expense of the trade route across the Red Sea, but the control of the Abbasid state did not continue completely over the Arabian Peninsula except for a hundred years. The early Abbasid caliphs encouraged the pilgrimage to Mecca by improving transportation and ensuring safety.
After that, the situation in the Arabian Peninsula witnessed deterioration and turmoil with the disintegration of the Abbasid Caliphate and its inability to control the parts of the state, then the Fatimids took control of the Hijaz, and when Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi ended the Fatimid state in Egypt, he was able to impose his control on the Hijaz. Then the power of the Mamluks extended over this country from the year 650 AH until the year 923 AH, when the Ottomans took over the caliphate after that. The Ottomans tightened their control over the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, especially the holy cities, which were under direct protection, unlike the desert regions and remote areas, as they were not completely under their control. In addition, the Portuguese were attacking the borders of the peninsula, especially from the side of the Arabian Gulf, in time when the Ottoman Empire was fighting the European front against Austria and Russia, and the eastern front against the Safavid dynasty in Persia. At that time, weakness had set in in the Ottoman Empire, so the governors began to rebel against its authority, to turn away from it, and to seek independence. In the middle of the fifteenth century AD, the great-grandfather of the Al Saud family, Mana bin Rabia Al-Muraidi, immigrated from the vicinity of Qatif to Najd, where he settled and established the city of Diriyah.
The Saudi lands are home to many ancient civilizations from the pre-Islamic period, as the site of Al-Shuwaitiyyah in the Al-Jawf region includes a settlement dating back to the Paleolithic Age. The site of Well Hama in the Najran region includes multiple rock inscriptions dating from 7,000 BC to 1,000 BC, indicating that the inhabitants of this region used domesticated dogs and hunted animals of the region, including camels, goats and cows, using spears and bows. In the area between the Tathleeth Governorate and Wadi Al-Dawasir Governorate, a civilization known as the “Al-Maqar Civilization” arose, which dates back to 9,000 BC. Its discovery proved that the Arab man was the first to domesticate horses, and that this civilization arose on the banks of an ancient river.
In the north of Al-Ula Governorate, Mada’in Saleh (Al-Hijr) became famous, which was inhabited by the Thamudis in the third millennium BC, then inhabited by the Lihyanites in the ninth century BC, and then by the Nabataeans in the second century BC. Among its most famous monuments are the “Diwan of Jabal Athleb”, “Al-Sane’ Palace”, and “The Unique Palace” and “The Girl’s Palace”. In the Tabuk region, Al-Bida governorate became famous for Mada’in Shuaib, which was inhabited by a people of Medina in the second millennium BC. In Taima, a hieroglyphic inscription known as the “Taima hieroglyphic inscription” was found, inscribed with the name of Ramses III, one of the pharaohs of the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt (1183-1152 BC). An Aramaic obelisk known as the “Taima Stone” was also found in it, dating back to the period of King Nebu Nid of Babylon (555-539 BC), and the inscriptions on it show that a priest named “Sun Ibn Batt or Zir” introduced the worship of an idol called “the idol of attack” to the city.
In the northwest of the desert of the Empty Quarter lies the village of Al-Faw, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Kinda, and found in it a palace, market, wells, writings, inscriptions and wall paintings. Many tombs were discovered near Safwa in the eastern region, known as the “Gawan burials” and it includes four tombs and some antiquities dating back to the second century AD. Najran also includes its old city, which is surrounded by a wall of 235 meters in length and 220 meters in width. Settlement began there in the year 600 BC and continued until the end of the third century AD.
During the Saudi era, many places became famous, such as the Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab Mosque in Diriyah, the House of Nassif and the Khuzam Palace in Jeddah, the Murabba Palace and the Masmak Palace in Riyadh, and the Shubra Palace in Taif. There are also five sites that have been included in the list of World Heritage Sites after being approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 1431 AH, and the historical Jeddah region was registered in 1435/2014 AH. In the year 2015 / 1436 AH, rock art was recorded in the Hail region, in addition to the Al-Ahsa Oasis, which was registered in the year 2018 / 1439 AH to be on the World Heritage List.
Islamic holy sites and places
Main articles: The Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque
Muslims from all parts of the Islamic world visit the Grand Mosque in Makkah Al-Mukarramah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, which are considered among the most important Muslim sanctities, and the number of visitors to them is about 12 million Muslims annually. The rulers of the caliphs, sultans, kings and princes throughout Islamic history have taken care of the Two Holy Mosques, and in the Saudi era they received more attention, expansion, construction and care.
There are many other Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia, including mosques, the most prominent of which is the Quba Mosque, which is known as the site of the first mosque in Islam, the Two Qibla Mosque, which gained its name from the incident of changing the direction of the qiblah, and the Ijabah Mosque. Al-Baqi was known as the cemetery of the people of Medina since the inception of Islam, and near Mount Uhud is the cemetery of the Uhud martyrs, which includes the bodies of 70 of the martyrs of Uhud. There are also sites that witnessed important and pivotal historical events at the beginning of Islamic history, including the Saqifah of Bani Sa’idah, and the sites of the battles of Badr Uhud and Al-Ahzab. There are also a number of historical wells, including Aris or Al-Khatem well, Ghars well, Al-Busah or Al-Bassa, Al-Suqya, Othman or Ruma well. Near Wadi Al-Aqiq, many palaces belonging to the Companions, the family of the Prophet, and the followers of the Umayyad era were found, including Anbasa Palace, Urwa bin Al-Zubair Palace, and others. As for the most famous monuments of the Abbasid era remaining to date, it is Ain Zubaydah, which was built by the nation of Aziz Zubaydah to water the pilgrims. It also built basins for watering the pilgrims on the road known as the Zubaydah Trail, which begins in Baghdad and ends in Mecca. As for the most famous Ottoman monuments, it is the Hejaz Railway, with its stations in Medina and Madain Saleh.