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Facts in brief

Official Name: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Area: 2,250,000 square kilometers (868,730 square miles)

Population: 30 million, including nearly 10 million expatriates (2014)

Official Language: Arabic

Religion: Islam

Capital: Riyadh

Administrative Regions: Al Baha, Al Jouf, Asir, Eastern, Hail, Jizan, Madinah, Makkah, Najran, Northern Border, Qasim, Riyadh, Tabouk

Location

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located in the far south-west of Asia. It is bordered by Jordan, and Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south. It is also connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway. The Red Sea lies to its west, and the Persian Gulf lies to the northeast.

Climate

Saudi Arabia’s climate differs from one region to another due to its different terrain. In general, the climate is continental hot summer, cold winter, and its rainfall season is in winter. The climate moderates on the western and south-western highlands. As for the central areas, it has hot and dry summer, and winter is cool and dry. The temperature and humidity rise in the coast, and it rains in winter and spring. The rainfall is scarce for most regions except the south-western highlands of the Kingdom where seasonal rainfall occurs in summer and is heavier than other areas. The relative humidity rises on the coast and the western highlands in most time of the year and decreases as we head into the interior.

Daily life and social customs

Saudi Arabia’s population is composed of nomads, villagers and townspeople. Pervading this triad, however, is the patrilineal kinship principle. The kinship principle is pervasive in Saudi society, and the extended family is a strong social unit. Villages constitute local service centres and contain members from more than one tribal affiliation. Cities are not tribally organized, though the importance of kinship affiliation endures. Social stratification is more clearly developed in the cities than elsewhere. Before the effects of oil were felt on the economy, status was a matter of lineage and occupation rather than of wealth. With the development of the oil industry, however, wealth and material position have acquired an additional social value.

Currency

The Kingdom’s currency is the Saudi Riyal, which equals 100 Halalah. The Saudi Riyal comes in different categories of bank notes (1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500). The metal coins, however, come in five categories (1Riyal, 50 Halalah, 25 Halalah, 10 Halalah and 5 Halalah). The Kingdom’s financial laws permit foreign currency exchange.
Telecommunications
Country code: 966. Area codes: Riyadh – 11, Jeddah/Makkah/Taif – 12, Eastern Province (Dammam/Dhahran) – 13, Madinah/Tabuk/Jawf/Northern Borders – 14, Qasim/Hail – 16, Asir/Jizan/ Najran/Bahah – 17.

Time

Greenwich Mean Time plus three (GMT+3) = Eastern Standard Time plus eight (seven during Daylight Savings Time).

Calendar

Islamic (Hijri), 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.

Working Days

Government departments works from Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday is the weekend holiday. Many of private companies and establishments as well as banks operate over day and evening shifts during the week days. Markets and shopping malls are open for business throughout the week.

Holidays

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

Emergency Services:

-Traffic Accidents 993
– Police 999
– Ambulance 997
– Civil Defense (fire) 998
– Directory Assistance 905
– Telephone Repair Help 904
– International Calls 900
– Hospital & Clinics: a list of hospitals and clinics can be viewed on: (http://www.the-saudi.net/directory/hospitals.htm)

The Tourism Contact Center:

• From Saudi Arabia: 19988
• From outside: +966118808080
• E-mail: info@sauditourism.sa

Affiliations

Saudi Arabia is a founding member of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), United Nations, League of Arab States, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); member of many international organizations, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization (WTO); and signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Saudi Arabia’s National Day

The Saudi National Day is 23rd September. For all Saudi nationals, in and outside the country, the Saudi National Day celebrates one of the most important events, the founding of Saudi Arabia. This is the most significant day in the country’s history, on which Saudi Arabia was officially declared an independent state. It is celebrated by locals with a national public holiday and is one of the few events in the country’s calendar that is not religiously affiliated.

Visa Requirements

Everyone who enters the Saudi Arabia should have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity and the appropriate visa. Except GCC nationals and those in transit, all nationalities require a pre-issued visa to enter Saudi Arabia. Visas can be for business, tourist, transit, residency, family, Hajj (Pilgrimage), or conference attendance. Visas can be obtained from the visa department at the Saudi Embassy of the visitor’s home country or from Saudi Consulates in main cities around the world. Australian visitors should check with the Saudi Embassy in Canberra (http://embassies.mofa.gov.sa/sites/australia/EN/Pages/default.aspx) for further details.

*Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia: (http://www.saudiarabia.embassy.gov.au/ryad/home.html).