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Saudi Arabia: the country of desert and oil

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Saudi Arabia (Al-Mamlaka al-‘Arabiya as-Sa’udiya, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is a kingdom in the Middle East, which occupies much of the Arabian peninsula. The country is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman and Yemen to the south. To the west it is washed by the Red Sea and to the east by the Persian Gulf. The most important cities of Saudi Arabia, in addition to the capital Riyadh, are Jiddah (Gidda), Mecca, Medina, Ad-Dammam.


The territory of Saudi Arabia is more than half made up of desert. In the north of the country are the southern reaches of the Syriac desert which extend southward to form the desert region of Nafud.

To the west, two mountain ranges rise along the coast of the Red Sea, those of Hejaz in the north and Asir in the south. They are part of the large escarpment of the Rift Valley, which forms the Red Sea. Among these, the Hejaz mountains rarely exceed 2,000 meters (in the far north is the Jabal al-Lawz, 2,403 meters), while those of the Asir rise in some places above 3,000 meters, reaching the maximum elevation with the Jabal Sawda (3,133 meters).

To the east, the large Nejd plateau (Neged) extends beyond the mountains. this is a rocky region alternating with small stretches of sandy desert and isolated mountain formations. The height of the plateau varies between 1,500 and 750 meters. To the east of Nejd (Neged) the plateau gradually descends towards the Persian Gulf, in an area where there are numerous oases. Along the coast of the Persian Gulf, there is the Al Hasa depression, where the main oil fields of the country are located. To the southeast, the country’s largest desert extends, the Rub ‘al Khali (600,000 sq km), an arid sandy desert, one of the most inhospitable areas on planet Earth.


Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporter in the world, its economy is mainly based on the exploitation of oil fields, whose reserves are the largest in the world. There are also important natural gas deposits. Finally, limestone, plaster, marble, silver, phosphates, uranium, clay, salt and gold are also extracted in the country. Oil fields are mainly located along the Persian Gulf coast.

Thanks to oil revenues, Saudi Arabia has been able to significantly develop its industrial structure mainly linked to the oil sector, but also to those of the construction, textile, plastic, iron and steel and processing of agricultural products. Agriculture has also developed considerably thanks to irrigation, wheat, dates, barley, sorghum, citrus fruits and vegetables are grown. A certain importance is also given by breeding (sheep, goats and camels).

The page of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

  • Area: 2,153,168 sqkm. (Arable 2%, Pastures 56%, Forests and Woodlands 1%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 41%)
  • Population: 24,735,000 (2007 data) Including immigrants (about 5,600,000 people).
  • State Capital: Riyadh.
  • Languages: The official language is Arabic.
  • Religion: Muslim 100% (Sunni 80%, Shi’a 20%). Excluding immigrants (about 5,600,000 people).
  • Currency: Saudi Riyal (SAR)
  • Time: UTC +3 hours.



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