Saudi Arabia extends to approximately 2,250,000 square kilometres (868,730 square miles) between the Arabian Gulf on the east and the Red Sea on the west. Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab country in the Middle East. It is bordered by Jordan and Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south. The Arab Gulf lies to the northeast and the Red Sea to its west. The origins of Saudi Arabia go back as far as 1744 years with the establishment of the first Saudi State. Saudi Arabia has played a significant role in international trade for centuries due to its strategic location which has facilitated the trade between India, China and Europe. Today, travellers to Saudi Arabia can experience both new and old civilizations side by side.
The formation of the current Kingdom began in 1902 when Abdul Aziz bin Saud captured the Al Saud’s ancestral home of Riyadh and culminated in 1932 with the proclamation and recognition of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Oil was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1936, and by 1950 the country had become a major oil producer in the world. Saudi Arabia has at least 25% of the world’s oil reserves and is the undisputed leader of the international oil industry.
Its oil revenues have been used to diversify the economy, reclaiming land from the desert and establishing the infrastructure. In 2005, Saudi Arabia became the 149th member of the World Trade Organization, beginning the process of opening up its economy to the outside world. Saudi Arabia holds a prominent place among the nations of the world as a whole, being the birthplace of Islam, and the country that hosts the Two Holy Mosques.