The cradle of Islam

Saudi Arabia 

One of the most devout and insular countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has emerged from being an underdeveloped desert kingdom to become one of the wealthiest nations in the region thanks to vast oil resources. But its rulers face the delicate task of responding to pressure for reform while combating a growing problem of extremist violence. Named after the ruling Al Saud family, which came to power in the 18th century, the country includes the Hijaz region - the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the cradle of Islam. This fact, combined with the Al Saud’s' espousal of a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, has led it to develop a strongly religious self-identity.


The Al Saud dynasty holds a monopoly of power; political parties are banned and the opposition is organised from abroad; militant Islamists have launched several deadly attacks. It has always been in the ruling family's interests to preserve stability in the region and to clamp down on extremist elements. To this end, it welcomed the stationing of US troops in the country after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

After the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington of 11 September 2001 - carried out mainly by Saudi nationals - the Saudi authorities were further torn between their natural instincts to step up internal security and pressure to allow a greater degree of democracy.

In 2003 suicide bombers suspected of having links with al-Qaeda killed 35 people - including a number of foreigners - in the capital Riyadh. Some Saudis referred to the attacks as their own 9/11. Since then, demands for political reform have increased, as has the frequency of militant attacks, some of them targeted at foreign workers. The security forces have made thousands of arrests.

January in 2015, crown prince Salman had succeeded as a new king after the King Abdullah. In in the month of May, he dismissed the crown prince Muqrin and appointed new crown prince M. bin Naif and new defence minister Prince his son M. bin Salman. The main power position has been restructured by the new generation since the first king Abdul-Aziz.


Saudi Arabia is the world's dominant oil producer and owner of the largest hydrocarbon reserves. Saudi Arabia sits on more than 25% of the world's known oil reserves. It is capable of producing more than 10 million barrels per day; that figure is set to rise. Rapidly growing unemployment is a major challenge. Though the international oil and gas price had dropped dramatically in the year of 2015, the country had launched several mega projects such as subway, rail way and financial district in the capital. Each province constructed universities and colleges for the higher education over the past decades.


Saudi Arabia is one of the main players in the Arab and Muslim worlds; its stature is built on its geographic size, its prestige as the custodian of the birthplace of Islam and status as major oil producer. In this year 2015, the regional power struggle with Iran the Persian Gulf country has been in deeper gap by the political crises in Yemen. The Arab league had formed against the Iranian influence on Yemen so that it caused air strike in Yemen mainly targeted the Houties who took the power in the country.  

Video: Arabian Peninsula - Work as Worship

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Population: About 21 million nationals and about 8-9 million expats.
Capital: Riyadh the population is about 6 million in the year 2015.
Area: 2.24 million sq km (864,869 sq miles)
Major language: Arabic
Major Religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 70 years (men), 74 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: Riyal (1 USD = 3.75 Riyals)
Main exports: Oil, gas, cereals
GNI per capita: US $11,770 (World Bank, 2006)


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