Facts and important Information about Saudi Arabia

saudi-arabia-red-seaNo other country in the world is as misunderstood as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and perhaps no other country – rich with culture,

heritage, and natural beauty – is as worthy of a visit. It is more than a harsh desert (though the sands it does boast include the Empty Quarter, a beautiful expanse of undulating dunes unlike anywhere in the world), it is a country with many areas of beautiful oases and dramatic mountain-tops and beaches.

This page provides a brief introduction to various aspects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Location

southwest Asia, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa; extending from the Red Sea in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east; bordered on the north by Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait, on the south, by Yemen and Oman, and on the east by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.

Land

varied; fairly barren and harsh, with salt flats, gravel plains and sand deserts; a few man-made lakes but no permanent streams; in the south, the Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest sand desert in the world; in the southwest, mountain ranges of over 9,000 feet. 2,240,000 sq km (864,869 sq miles).

Climate

June through August, over 110 degrees Fahrenheit midday in the desert; humidity in coastal regions up to 100 percent; elsewhere, mild; possible winter temperatures in the northern and central regions dropping below freezing; rainfall, from none at all for up to 10 years in the Rub Al-Khali, to 20 inches a year in the mountains of Asir Province.

Religion

Islam, which is the basis of the legal system and of government.

Population

27 million, including nearly 8.5 million expatriates (2010 census).

Language

Arabic;  English widely spoken in urban areas.

National Day

September 23, commemorating the foundation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

Rulers

King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al-Saud, the founder (1932-1963), followed by his sons: King Saud (1953-64), King Faisal (1964-75), King Khalid (1975-82), King Fahd (1982-2005), King Abdullah ( 2005-2015) and the current ruler, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,  King  Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Government

Islamic state based on principles prescribed by the Qur'an (Islam's Holy Book) and the Shari'ah (Islamic law); Provincial Council System, Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura), and Council of Ministers.

The 13 provinces and their capitals:

$1Ø  Riyadh Province

$1Ø  Makkah Province

$1Ø  Madinah Province

$1Ø  Qasim Province

$1Ø  Eastern Province

$1Ø  Asir Province

$1Ø  Tabuk Province

$1Ø  Hail Province

$1Ø  Northern Border Province

$1Ø  Jizan Province

$1Ø  Najran Province

$1Ø  Baha Province

$1Ø  Jouf Province

Phone code

country code 966;

Emergency numbers in Saudi Arabia: Police: 999

area codes Riyadh - 11,

Jeddah, Makkah and Taif - 12,

Eastern Province Dammam and Dhahran - 13,

Madinah, Tabuk and Jawf Northern Borders - 14,

 Qasim and Hail - 16,

Asir, Jizan,  Najran and Bahah - 17

Time

Plus three (GMT+3) = Eastern Standard Time.

Calendar

Islamic (Hijrah), dating from emigration of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah; weekend, Friday and Saturday.

The 12 months of the Islamic lunar year

Muharram, Safar, Rabi' Al-Awal, Rabi' Al-Akher, Jumada  Al-Awal, Jumada  Al-Akher, Rajab, Sha'ban, Ramadan, Shawwal. Dhu Al-Qadah , Dhu Al-Hajjah .

Holidays

closure of all offices and schools on Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast, from the evening of the twenty-fifth day of Ramadan through the fifth day of Shawwal; Eid Al-Adha, the culmination of the Hajj, from the fifth through fifteenth day of Dhu Al-Hajjah; and September 23, National Day.

Business

Government offices Sunday through Thursday from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm; private businesses from 8:00 am to noon and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; general banking from 8:00 am until noon and from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm and markets and shops from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm.

Currency

Saudi Riyal (SR) . Bank notes, in Arabic and English, in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 Riyals; coins in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 halalahs, with 100 halalahs equal to one riyal; metric system in use.

Credit Cards/Travellers Cheques: Credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted

Opening Hours in Saudi Arabia

Bank: 0830-1200 & 1700-1900 Sat-Wed, 0830-1200 Thursday vary.

Office: 0900-1300 & 1630-2000 Sat-Thur (during Ramadan 2000-0100), 0730-1430 Sat-Wed (Government offices)

Shops: 0900-1300 & 1630-2000 Sat-Thur (during Ramadan 2000-0100)

Tipping

Service charge is usually included in bills at hotels. Elsewhere a tip of 10 percent can be offered for services rendered. Taxi drivers can be given 10 percent of the fare.

Airports in Saudi Arabia:

Dammam King Fahd International (DMM)

Dhahran (DHA)

Jeddah King Abdulaziz International (JED)

Riyadh King Khaled International (RUH)

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