Saudi Arabia was one of the world’s poorest countries before finding oil, and now the country is undergoing a pervasive social transformation process. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of SAU and acronym for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a pretty closed society; the modernization and social mobility of recent decades has not seriously disturbed the traditional tribal and clan community, which, alongside Islam, characterizes the social system, where the norms and values of group affiliation are strong. Commitments to family and relatives take precedence over everything else and favoring one’s own group is seen as natural and expected behavior. At the same time as Saudi Arabia embraces much of modern attributes – technology, consumer goods, etc. – the traditional and Islamic way of life is idealized. You guard against “foreign thoughts” and norm resolution, e.g. equality between the sexes. Check to see Saudi Arabia population.
Oil revenues have allowed a strong expansion of education, health care and social welfare programs. In 2009, there were just over two hospital beds per 1,000 residents. Health care is free for all citizens and foreigners residing in the country. However, there is a big difference between the city and the countryside, in terms of both medical density and health status. In the cities, “civilization diseases” such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and traffic injuries dominate. Lifestyle diseases related to obesity have become a major problem in the country. In 2008, approximately 20 percent of the adult population was estimated to suffer from type 2 diabetes.
In January 2000, Saudi Arabia signed an economic cooperation agreement with Iran. The agreement ended 20 years of chilled relations between the two countries.
The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, was carried out by a large number of Saudi Arabians, which led to an increasingly strained United States relationship with its traditional fundamentalist allies in the Middle East. During 2002, neoconservative circles close to the United States government made proposals to sever relations with Saudi Arabia and even possible invasion of the country. However, this was officially rejected by the United States government, but was a powerful signal to Saudi Arabia.
In December 2001, for the first time, Saudi Arabian women were given a photo ID. Until then, they had only been registered on the family’s identity papers as dependent on husband or father. In Saudi Arabia, women have to have the permission of a male family member if they are to be operated on, for example. is entitled to own money and inheritance – in accordance with Islamic norms. It was the business women of the country – around 1500 nationwide – who had pushed for the issue of identity papers.
The Pentagon denied in March 2002 that the United States had initiated the transfer of troops from its air base in Saudi Arabia to Qatar. However, the transfer was confirmed in a report in the British newspaper The Guardian on March 27. The reason was that Saudi Arabia had refused to allow the bases to participate in the US planned invasion of Iraq.
Following Israel’s extensive military invasion and massacre in Palestine in March 2002, Iraq halted its oil exports, calling on other OPEC members to do the same. That prompted Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi to say that his country would not reduce its oil exports and would guarantee international oil supply. That caused oil prices to fall.
In September 2002, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal stated that his country would only allow the use of its territory for a possible attack against Iraq if such a decision had been approved by the UN Security Council. In October, the Saudi-Iraqi border opened for the first time in 12 years. For 12 years, the border in the Iraqi city of Arar had only been opened to Iraqi pilgrims to visit the shrines of Islam in Saudi Arabia.
Human settlement presents a varied cultural picture. Unitary elements are the Islamic religion (mostly Sunni rite) and the Arabic language, while the kinds of life differ profoundly among the oasis farmers, those of the western mountainous areas, the nomadic shepherds and the residents of the cities. The latter have grown for opposite reasons: on the side of the Red Sea (Gidda, Mecca, Medina), first as commercial centers and then for the presence of the holy places, the destination of increasing flows of pilgrims from all Muslim countries; on the side of the Persian Gulf, on the other hand, under the pressure of political factors (the capital) and economic factors (the ‘pioneer cities’ of the oil areas: ad-Dammam, Dhahran). Western-style construction has been added to the various types of temporary housing in the nomad camps and the solid ‘fortress-houses’ of the permanent centers and traditional urban centers, so that the major cities (especially Riyadh and Giddah) are dominated by modern skyscrapers and surrounded by new residential areas.
The water supply, on which a lot has been invested, is the main problem of the settlements. This is done using scarce rainfall, groundwater and fossil waters and, in the coastal regions of the Persian Gulf, with enormous seawater desalination plants. The population, strongly concentrated in oases and cities (88% the urban population), has experienced a strong natural and migratory increase for years (overall, 2.9% per year, in the period 1999-2004); resident foreigners, although decreasing, make up about 25% of the population; the level of education is still relatively low with around 20% illiterate.