Saudi Arabia Facts
Saudi Arabia is especially known for its vast deserts, but the country also has numerous lush mountains and pristine beaches. The country is also known for its oil resources. Saudi – Arabia is one the founder of OPEC countries.
Official language: Arabic
Currency : Saudi Arabian rial
Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen needs a passport and visa as a travel document. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the end of the trip and the passport must have at least one blank opening.
Time zone: UTC + 3
Jeddah summers are long, hot, sweaty and at times cloudy. The hot season lasts about four months. It starts in late May and continues into late September. At that time, the average air temperature is above 37 ° C. In winter, the humidity is low, the air is warm and windy. The cool season begins at the turn of November – December and continues through the turn of February – March. At that time, temperatures range from 18 to 39 ° C and sometimes rarely fall below 5 ° C.
Agriculture and fishing
The lack of water is a natural limitation for agriculture in Saudi Arabia, and only a few percent of the area is cultivated. More than a third of the country is used to some extent as pasture. Chicken, milk, dates and wheat are some of the most important products. Before the oil became the dominant industry, agriculture and fishing were Saudi Arabia’s most important industries. Gradually they have lost their position and now employ only a small proportion of the labor force.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Saudi Arabia. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Previously, there were mainly privately owned small farms in oases or on the coast of the Red Sea in the southwest, where rain falls. Dams have later been built to collect rainwater that is led to new crops on state-subsidized large-scale farms in the desert. Land owned by the state has been distributed to farmers and agricultural companies. State subsidies and generous credits have made Saudi Arabia an exporter of grain, mainly wheat, since the late 1980s. However, wheat cultivation is being phased out as it is entirely dependent on irrigation.
The agricultural investment has resulted in extensive water consumption, which has drastically lowered the groundwater level. Almost half of the cultivated land is irrigated (see also Natural Resources and Energy). For Saudi Arabia defense and foreign policy, please check recipesinthebox.
In addition to wheat and dates, grapes, watermelons, potatoes and tomatoes are grown. The large agricultural companies are mostly managed by cheap foreign labor.
Saudi Arabia is one of the countries forced to fight a pest insect originating in Asia, the red palm worm that attacks date crops (but also coconut and oil palm). According to the United Nations Agricultural Organization, FAO, 60 percent of the world’s agricultural crops are located in the Arab world, where dates are important both as export goods and as part of the feasts during the fixed month of Ramadan. The control of the beetles involves, among other things, the use of pheromone traps, which attract the swirls with fragrances.
The production of milk and other dairy products has developed rapidly with the help of modern technology from, among others, Sweden. Saudi Arabia is a major milk exporter. In Saudi Arabia too, consumer power can be exercised via social media. In 2018, the large dairy company Almarai became the object of protests against rising prices. Almarai explained the increased prices with the reduction of government energy subsidies and the fact that it has become more expensive to employ foreign labor. The country’s political conflict with neighboring Qatar also led to reduced sales.
Chicken breeding and egg production have been successful. Sheep and camel meat are also exported, although the nomadizing Bedouins have become fewer and the previously important camel breeding is now mostly a hobby for the well-off.
Traditional small-scale fishing has increased substantially since the 1990s. Fish farming is also growing, especially along the Red Sea coast.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
2.2 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
80.8 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of SAU stands for the state of Saudi Arabia in geography.
Authors are sentenced to prison
Zuhair Kutbi is reported to have been sentenced to four years in prison, travel ban for five years and ban on writing for 15 years. Exactly what he was convicted of is unclear, but he was arrested since he called for reforms to combat religious and political repression.
New military alliance is born
Saudi Arabia announces that a new military alliance has been formed to fight terrorism, comprising 34 Muslim-dominated countries in Asia and Africa. A cooperation center will be established in Riyadh. Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman says the new alliance will coordinate its efforts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. The arch rival – Shia Muslim Iran – is not part of the alliance, nor are its two allies Iraq and Syria. The alliance raises many issues, not least as legislation in Saudi Arabia identifies peaceful opponents as suspected “terrorists”.
Women participate in municipal elections
In the elections that apply to the 284 Council meetings, women are allowed to both be candidates and vote for the first time. Both registration and voting are performed in centers that are run by women and kept separate from the men’s centers. The result is that women are selected for 20 out of a total of about 2,100 places.
Strong austerity awaits
The record-breaking budget deficit means that the government decides on subsidies: gasoline prices are increased by up to 80 percent and subsidies on electricity, water and other services are also reduced.
Terrorist group threatens with revenge for capital punishment
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) warns authorities to execute doomed jihadists and threatens to “spill our blood to save theirs”. The warning comes a week after Amnesty International raised alarms that a mass execution of up to 55 “terrorists” will be expected in one day in Saudi Arabia.
New judgment against civil rights activist
Adbulkarim al-Khader is sentenced to ten years in prison with the support of the new anti-terrorism legislation. An earlier verdict against him (see June 2013) has been revoked but he has remained in jail and has now been sentenced again, Amnesty International says.
Congestion disaster in Mina
The deadliest incident ever associated with hajj occurs when hundreds of people are trampled to death at Mina outside Mecca. It happens when walking trains with pilgrims end up on collision course with each other and catastrophic congestion occurs. Shortly after the accident, Saudi Arabia reports that 769 lives were required and adheres to that task. Compilations from other countries show that it is rather up to 2,400 dead. Only Iran reports 464 dead citizens.
Criticism against Saudi post in human rights council
The Press Freedom Organization Reporters Without Borders (RUG) calls it “grotesque” that Saudi Arabia has been given the chairmanship of a panel to be the advisor to the UN Human Rights Council. Saudi Arabia is ranked 164 out of 180 in the RUG’s list of press freedom in the countries of the world.
Over 100 dead when the construction crane collapses
The Great Mosque in Mecca, the largest mosque in the world, is packed with people gathered for Friday prayers when the construction crane crashes straight into the building. The death toll was eventually set at 111, of which a large number were Bangladeshi or Egyptian. Up to 400 are injured in the accident that occurs two weeks before the holy pilgrimage, hajj, begins (see Religion). According to the authorities, it was severe weather that caused the crane to tip over.
IS organization is revealed
Authorities say an IS-affiliated organization has been blown up and over 400 people have been arrested. The group must have planned attacks on mosques and embassies. In May, the Interior Ministry stated that 93 people – both Saudi and foreigners – with links to IS were arrested in six months. The security forces must have averted a number of planned attacks against, for example, residential areas where foreign nationals live, shopping centers, security facilities and the US embassy in Riyadh.
The government criticizes Iran’s involvement
The government expresses its hope that Iran will cease to interfere in other “internal affairs” in the region – in a comment after Iran entered into a historic agreement with the major powers over its nuclear program (see Iran: Calendar and Iran: Foreign Policy and Defense).
IS takes on suicide bombings against Shia mosque
The suicide attack against a Shiite mosque in Qatif, Eastern Province, requires 21 people’s lives, and IS is for the first time taking on a deed on Saudi soil. The Ministry of the Interior confirms that the assailant had links to IS. Tens of thousands of mourners participate in a mass burial of the victims. Just a week later, on May 29, four people are killed in a new suicide attack, now against a Shiite Muslim mosque in Dammam. IS also takes on this deed.
Yemen’s rebel attack
The military claims to have killed dozens of Yemeni gunmen who carried out the first major attack on Saudi territory since the air strikes against Yemen began just over a month ago.
Remodeling in the powerhouse
King Salman tightens his and the Sudanese hold on power when throne follower Muqrin is sidelined and Salma’s nephew Mohammed bin Nayef becomes new crown prince (see January 2015). New Vice Crown Prince becomes King’s own son, Mohammed bin Salman. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister, Prince Saud bin Faisal, who has held the post since 1975 and was the Foreign Minister who has been the longest in the world, is dismissed. He is succeeded by Adel al-Jubeir, who was an ambassador to Washington and does not belong to the royal family.
A sharp fall in oil revenues
Saudi oil giant Sabic (see Industry) reports a 39 percent drop in profits in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period the year before. The reason is the sharp fall in the world market price of oil. The government already announced in December that the budget for 2015 is expected to go with a deficit of $ 38 billion. The oil price had then halved in six months. According to the government, the deficit, which is the largest in the country’s history, should be covered with money from the country’s large reserve fund.
Concern at the border with Yemen
The conflict with the rebels in Yemen raises concerns at the border between the countries where Saudi Arabia has strengthened its readiness for southward intrusion. A total of seven soldiers and border guards are reported to have been killed in various incidents since the Alliance launched its air strikes. After nearly a month, the Saudi-led coalition is said to have conducted 2,000 air strikes against the huhirebells.
Air strikes against rental companies in Yemen
A country alliance led by Saudi Arabia launches air strikes against the Yemeni hut rebels to “defend the legitimate government”, that is, President Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi, driven from the neighboring capital at the beginning of the year and entrenched himself in the port city of Aden. The only country on the Arabian Peninsula that does not participate is Oman. Saudi Arabia has also sent 150,000 troops to its border in the south.
Acpra activist sentenced to prison
One of Acpras (see March 2013) founder, Mohammed al-Bajadi, is sentenced to ten years in prison, of which five are conditional. He is convicted of, among other things, procuring books illegally, organized protests among prisoners’ relatives and published material that threatens public order.
Saudi Arabia prevents Margot Wallström in the Arab League
The government in Riyadh stops Sweden’s foreign minister who would speak before the Arab League’s foreign ministers in Cairo. Wallström is invited by the organization to speak on issues of democracy, among other things, but her appearance is halted, probably due to her criticism of Saudi violations of human rights. The Arab League then jointly condemns Wallström’s “irresponsible and unacceptable” statements about Saudi Arabia. In connection with this war of words, Sweden decides to terminate a military cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, after which the Saudi ambassador to Stockholm is called home. At the end of the month, the government says it has received an apology from Sweden and decides to send back its ambassador.
Female car drivers released
Two Saudi women arrested in December 2014 after trying to drive a car into Saudi Arabia from the United Arab Emirates are released after 70 days in custody. The women have been committed to women’s right to drive a car and have had a major impact on the world through their action. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to ban women from driving.
Abdullah dies, Salman becomes new king
Former Crown Prince Salman becomes new king when half-brother King Abdullah dies. Vice Crown Prince Muqrin becomes new Crown Prince. New Vice Crown Prince becomes Mohammed bin Nayef who is the first in the next generation to take a seat in the throne (see Current Politics).
A penalty against Raif Badawi is executed
The blogger Raif Badawi receives the first 50 of the 1,000 whips he was sentenced to (see May 2014). Human rights organizations condemn the public punishment carried out after Friday prayers at a public place in the port city of Jeddah. The US and the UN also criticize the punishment and call on Saudi Arabia to pardon Badawi. According to the plan, Badawi will receive 50 whips every Friday until the entire sentence is distributed, but the punishment is suspended for “medical reasons”.