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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Summary

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest sites. Prior to the discovery of large oil reserves in the 1950s, the land was traditionally tribal in nature. Modernization has happened quickly because of vast oil wealth and their importance in international affairs.1 The nation is a monarchy ruled by Sharia Law, and there are many human rights abuses committed against minority groups. Despite the oil industry, there is a large discrepancy in wealth, and one-fourth of the population still lives in poverty.2 1 https://www.britannica.com/place/Saudi-Arabia/Climate#toc45201
2 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sa.html

Demographics

Nationality
Saudi or Saudi Arabian
Population
26,939,583 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

Explore Saudi Arabia Subcases

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Environment
Family
Human Rights
Education
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Animals

Environment

Alongside rapid and unregulated economic growth, there has been an increase in average temperatures and signs of further desertification.1 Protecting Saudi Arabia’s rare and unique ecosystems could help to prevent extinction and the deterioration of the environment. Due to the arid landscape, the country experiences few natural disasters.2

Family

Saudi society and families are patriarchal. Women have been given more freedom to participate outside of the home, but they are still encouraged to focus on the household. The majority of marriages are arranged and formalized with an Islamic Civil Ceremony, and it is still common for men to pay a dowry for their wives.1 Men are permitted to have as many as four wives and are legally required to provide for their wives equally. Divorce is much more attainable for men than women, and the divorce rate is high.2 Rates of domestic abuse in Saudi Arabia are extremely high, and even though it is illegal, there are many unreported cases and social stigmas which make the legality of abuse unclear.3

Human Rights

Activists and anyone who speaks out for reform are typically threatened or arrested and serve long prison sentences that can involve torture and flogging. There is no tolerance for public worship of other religions rather than Islam, and minority religious groups are subject to discrimination both in the justice system and privately.1 According to the Saudi guardianship laws, women are prohibited from traveling alone, conducting business, undergoing medical procedures, or doing other regular activities without consent from male guardians. Protection of the rights of women and foreign workers is practically non-existent, and over 9 million foreign workers and 9 million women do not receive legal protection from government.1 Because of these legal and societal hardships, only 22% of women participate in the workforce.2 Freedom of Read More the media does not exist, and most publications are government run and tightly monitored. Many websites are blocked, and one must obtain a license to post their opinion online.3 Show Less

Education

Education is free and compulsory for all children. The study of Islam is at the core of the education system and the Quran requires education for both men and women.1 The primary school enrollment rate in Saudi Arabia is at 96%, but girls and boys are separated in schools with less funding going towards girls schools.2 This leads to gender inequities when it comes to literacy, with the adult male literacy rate at 98% compared to the adult female literacy rate of 91%.2

Poverty

About 25% of the population lives below the poverty line in Saudi Arabia.1 Although Saudi Arabia has immense national wealth, there is vast wealth inequality. Millions of citizens struggle to provide for their families or are homeless. Welfare programs are inadequate, and there are not enough jobs to accommodate the growing population. The Kingdom hides poverty rates from the outside world, and the government discloses little data about the poor. Around 40% of people under 30 years old are unemployed.2

Religion

The state religion of Saudi Arabia is Islam, and about 90% of citizens adhere to the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam.1 There is a small percentage of Shia Muslims, but these people and other religious minorities are not allowed to publicly worship and are subject to discrimination.2 Saudi Arabia does not permit religious freedom of expression and it is punishable by death to convert to any other religion.2

Clean Water

Saudi Arabia is a desert landscape with scarce water supply and low rainfall. Clean water access and sanitation in Saudi Arabia has been made possible largely because of investments in desalination plants, efficient water distribution, and wastewater treatment.1 Approximately 97% of the population has access to clean drinking water and 100% of the population has access to improved sanitation infrastructure.1

Economy

Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with the government exerting lots of oversight and control. It is home to 16% of the world’s petroleum reserves, and petroleum accounts for 42% of the GDP.1 A dip in worldwide oil prices has caused the oil-dependent economy to slow, and the Saudi government is looking for ways to diversify their economy. Telecommunications, natural gas, and tourism have been the focus of their diversification efforts, but these have not so far been able to shift the economy from being almost entirely dependent on oil production.1 Unemployment throughout the country is at 5.5%.2

Government

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy based off of the teachings and tenets of Islam. The king is head of the military and the legal system, and there are no existing political parties in Saudi Arabia.1 The Saudi government has made recent reforms in an attempt to foster public transparency and integrity, but corruption in the forms of favoritism and bribes are still common.2 There are known connections between government branches and terrorist organizations, and their foreign policy reflects regional interests that often align with the United States against Iran and other extreme Shia groups.3

Health

The leading causes of death in Saudi Arabia are heart disease and stroke. Other common health ailments are depression, anxiety, domestic violence, and neck pain.1 The infant mortality rate in Saudi Arabia is 7 deaths per 1,000 live births, and the average life expectancy is 75 years of age.2

Children

Child abuse is prevalent, and in 2016, it was estimated that nearly 60% of children experienced some form of abuse or neglect.1 Girls and boys are often raised differently, and it is not uncommon to find girls married before the legal marrying age of 18. Saudi Arabia often tries adolescents as adults, and there are many cases of teenagers being sentenced to death and being tortured in Saudi prisons.2 They are also known to stone or flog children, and girls are particularly vulnerable because of their status as second class citizens under male guardianship.3

Animals

Hyenas, foxes, and honey badgers are commonly found in Saudi Arabia. Many larger mammals have been driven from the nation because of industrialization and increased human activity. Camels and snakes are found in abundance.1

Saudi Arabia

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