Saudi Arabia

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Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Total population (millions): 23.2
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 88%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 3.0%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km˛) : 2,149,690

Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Saudi Arabians 82.2
other Arab origins 3.5
Yemenites 9.8
Other 4.5

Main Cities Population
Riyadh City 4 087 152
Jeddah 2 801 481
Mecca 1 294 168
Medina 918 889
Dammam 744 321
?a'if 521 273

Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Riyadh (GMT+3 ).

Official language: Arabic
Business language: Arabic and English.

Free translation tools

Free English-Arabic-English translation of texts and web pages

Free Arabic-English-Arabic dictionary

Religious practises : Sunni Muslims : 99%
Christians : 0,7%
Others : 0,3%.

Political context

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy where King has the supreme powers. Saudi Arabia (official name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad which gives it strategic importance in the Islamic world.
King is both the chief of the state and head of the government. The monarch is hereditary. Council of Ministers (cabinet) is appointed by the monarch and includes many royal family members. The Council of Ministers has both legislative and executive powers, subject to King’s approval.
There is no elected legislature in Saudi Arabia. A Consultative Council was appointed in August 1993 which has 120 members and a chairman appointed by the King for four-year terms. This Council has limited powers and does not affect decision making or power structures in a meaningful way. The people of Saudi Arabia enjoy very limited political rights, almost equal to nothing.
The judiciary is not independent in Saudi Arabia – it is entirely dependent on monarchy. The king appoints all judges and the monarchy serves as the highest court of appeal in the country. The main source of the law is Shari'a (the Islamic law) and the ‘Quran’ is the constitution of the country. However the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was introduced in 1993. Saudi Arabia has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The judicial language in the country is Arabic, having an interpreter is possible.
The rule of law is regularly flouted by the Saudi regime, with frequent trials falling short of international standards - secret trials are common. Foreign nationals cannot expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system. A considerable degree of corruption exits in the country, with foreign companies reporting that they often pay bribes to middlemen and government officials to secure business deals.

Major political parties

No political parties are allowed in Saudi Arabia. However, a party called Green Party of Saudi Arabia, which promotes the values of the worldwide Green movement, exists as an illegal organization. The first Saudi Arabian municipal elections were held in the year 2005.

Major political leaders

King and Prime Minister: ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since August 2005) - hereditary
Heir Apparent: Crown Prince SULTAN bin Abd al- Aziz Al Saud - half brother of the King

Next political election dates

Not Applicable






Number of visitors in Saudi Arabia 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 8,580 8,037 8,620 24
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005


Tourist sites
Saudi Arabia represents 4/5 of the Arabic peninsula. It is mainly deserts, which begin to have a certain tourist interest. The main places of interest are:
-Riyadh, royal capital, is a modern city built on the city site of origin. There are still some vestiges from the past such as the fort and the traditional palaces near Deera's place.
-The Western Coast is considered as the business centre, with the port and the ancient city of Jeddah.
-The Mecca is the highly spiritual reference place for the Islamic world. The Abdullah Bin Abdul Muttalib's house, house where the prophet Muhammad was born can be visited.

For more information about tourism in Saudi Arabia , check out the following web site(s) :
Information portal on tourism in Saudi Arabia


Traditional dishes
The Saudi cooking is typical from the Middle East. The food is the same as in Lebanon, Turkey, Syria etc. The local recipes are very often spiced up. All dishes are accompanied with a very light bread, called Pita. The rice, lentils, chickpeas and wheat seeds (burghul) are the main garnitures.
The most popular dishes are:
Kebabs: grills of spiced beef accompanied with soup or vegetables.
Hummus: Mushed chickpeas served with olive oil.
Mezzes: large variety of hors d'oeuvre (about 40) often spicy.
Muhalabia: rice pudding.

Food-related taboos
Pork is forbidden by the Muslim religion. Alcohol is prohibited and subject to fines. However, cocktails and beers without alcohol are served in big hotels.

Last modified on December 2006

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