Saudi Arabia

Introduction Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman AL SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. A male descendent of Ibn Saud, his son ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz, rules the country today as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong on-going campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. King ABDALLAH has continued the cautious reform program begun when he was crown prince. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide from February through April 2005 for half the members of 179 municipal councils. In December 2005, King ABDALLAH completed the process by appointing the remaining members of the advisory municipal councils. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds more than 20% of the world's proven oil reserves. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in December 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the kingdom. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all ongoing governmental concerns.
History

Although the region in which the country stands today has an ancient history, the emergence of the Saudi dynasty began in central Arabia in 1744. That year, Muhammad ibn Saud, the ruler of the town of Ad-Dir'iyyah near Riyadh, joined forces with a cleric, Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, to create a new political entity. This alliance formed in the 18th century remains the basis of Saudi Arabian dynastic rule today. Over the next 150 years, the fortunes of the Saud family rose and fell several times as Saudi rulers contended with Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, and other Arabian families for control on the peninsula (see First Saudi State and Second Saudi State). The third and current Saudi state was founded in the early 20th century by King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (known internationally as Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud).

In 1902 at the age of only 22, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud re-captured Riyadh, the Al-Saud dynasty's ancestral capital, from the rival Al Rashid family. Continuing his conquests, Abdul Aziz subdued Al-Hasa, Al-Qatif, the rest of Nejd, and Hejaz between 1913 and 1926. On January 8, 1926 Abdul Aziz bin Saud became the King of Hejaz. On January 29, 1927 he took the title King of Nejd (his previous Nejdi title was Sultan). By the Treaty of Jeddah, signed on May 20, 1927, the United Kingdom recognized the independence of Abdul Aziz's realm, then known as the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd. In 1932, the principal regions of Al-Hasa, Qatif, Nejd and Hejaz were unified to form the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Abdul Aziz's military and political successes were not mirrored economically until vast reserves of oil were discovered in March 1938. Development programmes, which were delayed due to the onset of the Second World War in 1939, began in earnest in 1946 and by 1949 production was in full swing. Oil has provided Saudi Arabia with economic prosperity and a great deal of leverage in the international community.

Prior to his death in 1953 Abdul Aziz, aware of the difficulties facing other regional absolute rulers reliant on extended family networks, attempted to regulate the succession.

Saud succeeded to the throne on his father's death in 1953. However, by the early 1960s the Kingdom was in jeopardy due to Saud's economic mismanagement and failure to deal effectively with a regional challenge from Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. As a consequence Saud was deposed in favour of Faisal in 1964.

Intra-family rivalry was one of the factors that led to the assassination of Faisal by his nephew, Prince Faisal bin Musa'id, in 1975. He was succeeded by King Khalid until 1982 and then by King Fahd. When Fahd died in 2005, his half-brother Abdullah ascended to the throne.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen
Geographic coordinates: 25 00 N, 45 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 2,149,690 sq km
land: 2,149,690 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US
Land boundaries: total: 4,431 km
border countries: Iraq 814 km, Jordan 744 km, Kuwait 222 km, Oman 676 km, Qatar 60 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1,458 km
Coastline: 2,640 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 18 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes
Terrain: mostly uninhabited, sandy desert
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Sawda' 3,133 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper
Land use: arable land: 1.67%
permanent crops: 0.09%
other: 98.24% (2005)
Irrigated land: 16,200 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 2.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 17.32 cu km/yr (10%/1%/89%)
per capita: 705 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: frequent sand and dust storms
Environment - current issues: desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: extensive coastlines on Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal
Politics

The central institution of the Saudi Arabian government is the Saudi monarchy. The Basic Law of Government adopted in 1992 declared that Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of the first king, Abd Al Aziz Al Saud. It also claims that the Qur'an is the constitution of the country, which is governed on the basis of the Sharia (Islamic Law). According to The Economist's Democracy Index, the Saudi government is the ninth most authoritarian regime in the world.

There are no recognized political parties or national elections, except the local elections which were held in the year 2005 when participation was reserved for male citizens only. The king's powers are theoretically limited within the bounds of Shari'a and other Saudi traditions. He also must retain a consensus of the Saudi royal family, religious leaders (ulema), and other important elements in Saudi society. The Saudi government spreads Islam by funding construction of mosques and Qur'an schools around the world. The leading members of the royal family choose the king from among themselves with the subsequent approval of the ulema.

Saudi kings have gradually developed a central government. Since 1953, the Council of Ministers, appointed by the king, has advised on the formulation of general policy and directed the activities of the growing bureaucracy. This council consists of a prime minister, the first prime minister and twenty ministers.

Legislation is by resolution of the Council of Ministers, ratified by royal decree, and must be compatible with the Shari'a. A 150-member Consultative Assembly, appointed by the King, has limited legislative rights. Justice is administered according to the Shari'a by a system of religious courts whose judges are appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, composed of twelve senior jurists. Independence of the judiciary is protected by law. The king acts as the highest court of appeal and has the power to pardon. Access to high officials (usually at a majlis; a public audience) and the right to petition them directly are well-established traditions.

The combination of relatively high oil prices and exports led to a revenues windfall for Saudi Arabia during 2004 and early 2005. For 2004 as a whole, Saudi Arabia earned about $116 billion in net oil export revenues, up 35 percent from 2003 revenue levels. Saudi net oil export revenues are forecast to increase in 2005 and 2006, to $150 billion and $154 billion, respectively, mainly due to higher oil prices. Increased oil prices and consequent revenues since the price collapse of 1998 have significantly improved Saudi Arabia's economic situation, with real GDP growth of 5.2 percent in 2004, and forecasts of 5.7% and 4.8% growth for 2005 and 2006, respectively.

For fiscal year 2004, Saudi Arabia originally had been expecting a budget deficit. However, this was based on an extremely conservative price assumption of $19 per barrel for Saudi oil and an assumed production of 7.7 Mbbl/d (1,220,000 m³/d). Both of these estimates turned out to be far below actual levels. As a result, as of mid-December 2004, the Saudi Finance Ministry was expecting a huge budget surplus of $26.1 billion, on budget revenues of $104.8 billion (nearly double the country's original estimate) and expenditures of $78.6 billion (28 percent above the approved budget levels). This surplus is being used for several purposes, including: paying down the Kingdom's public debt (to $164 billion from $176 billion at the start of 2004); extra spending on education and development projects; increased security expenditures (possibly an additional $2.5 billion dollars in 2004; see below) due to threats from terrorists; and higher payments to Saudi citizens through subsidies (for housing, education, health care, etc.). For 2005, Saudi Arabia is assuming a balanced budget, with revenues and expenditures of $74.6 billion each.

In spite of the recent surge in its oil income, Saudi Arabia continues to face serious long-term economic challenges, including high rates of unemployment (12 percent of Saudi nationals), one of the world's fastest population growth rates, and the consequent need for increased government spending. All of these place pressures on Saudi oil revenues. The Kingdom also is facing serious security threats, including a number of terrorist attacks (on foreign workers, primarily) in 2003 and 2004. In response, the Saudis reportedly have ramped up spending in the security area (reportedly by 50 percent in 2004, from $5.5 billion in 2003). Saudi Arabia's per capita oil export revenues remain far below high levels reached during the 1970s and early 1980s. In 2007, Saudi Arabia's citizens earned around $20,700 per person, versus $22,589 in 1980, but it is catching up. This 80 percent decline in real per capita oil export revenues since 1980 is in large part because Saudi Arabia's young population has nearly tripled since 1980, while oil export revenues in real terms have fallen by over 40 percent (despite recent increases). Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has faced nearly two decades of heavy budget and trade deficits, the expensive 1990-1991 war with Iraq, and total public debt of around $175 billion. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia does have extensive foreign assets (around $110 billion) which provide a substantial fiscal "cushion."

Saudi municipal elections took place in 2005 and some commentators saw this as a first tentative step towards the introduction of democratic processes in the Kingdom, including the legalization of political parties. Other analysts of the Saudi political scene were more skeptical.

People Population: 28,146,656
note: includes 5,576,076 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38% (male 5,458,023/female 5,245,911)
15-64 years: 59.5% (male 9,470,353/female 7,284,696)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 356,910/female 330,764) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 21.5 years
male: 22.9 years
female: 19.8 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.954% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 28.85 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.49 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -6.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.3 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.08 male(s)/female
total population: 1.19 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 11.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.09 years
male: 74.04 years
female: 78.25 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 3.89 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.01% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Saudi(s)
adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian
Ethnic groups: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%
Religions: Muslim 100%
Languages: Arabic
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.8%
male: 84.7%
female: 70.8% (2003 est.)
Education expenditures: 6.8% of GDP (2004)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
conventional short form: Saudi Arabia
local long form: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
local short form: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah
Government type: monarchy
Capital: name: Riyadh
geographic coordinates: 24 38 N, 46 43 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah, Al Jawf, Al Madinah, Al Qasim, Ar Riyad, Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jizan, Makkah, Najran, Tabuk
Independence: 23 September 1932 (unification of the kingdom)
National holiday: Unification of the Kingdom, 23 September (1932)
Constitution: governed according to Islamic law; the Basic Law that articulates the government's rights and responsibilities was promulgated by royal decree in 1992
Legal system: based on Sharia law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 21 years of age; male
Executive branch: chief of state: King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005); Heir Apparent Crown Prince SULTAN bin Abd al- Aziz Al Saud (half brother of the monarch, born 5 January 1928); note - the monarch is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers is appointed by the monarch every four years and includes many royal family members
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; note - a new Allegiance Commission created by royal decree in October 2006 established a committee of Saudi princes that will play a role in selecting future Saudi kings, but the new system will not take effect until after Crown Prince Sultan becomes king
Legislative branch: Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 members and a chairman appointed by the monarch for four-year terms); note - though the Council of Ministers announced in October 2003 its intent to introduce elections for half of the members of local and provincial assemblies and a third of the members of the national Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura, incrementally over a period of four to five years, to date no such elections have been held or announced
Judicial branch: Supreme Council of Justice
Political parties and leaders: none
Political pressure groups and leaders: Ansar Al Marah (supports women's rights)
other: gas companies; religious groups
International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB (nonregional members), AFESD, AMF, BIS, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Adil al-Ahmad al-JUBAYR
chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037
telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800
FAX: [1] (202) 944-3113
consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Ford M. FRAKER
embassy: Collector Road M, Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh
mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 61307, APO AE 09803-1307; International Mail: P. O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693
telephone: [966] (1) 488-3800
FAX: [966] (1) 488-7360
consulate(s) general: Dhahran, Jiddah (Jeddah)
Flag description: green, a traditional color in Islamic flags, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script (translated as "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God") above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); design dates to the early twentieth century and is closely associated with the Al Saud family which established the kingdom in 1932
Culture

Saudi Arabian culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam. Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, are located in the country. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. The weekend begins on Thursday due to Friday being the holiest day for Muslims. All Muslim countries have a Thursday-Friday or Friday-Saturday weekend. The public practice of any religion other than Islam, including Christianity and Judaism, the presence of churches, and possession of non-Islamic religious materials is not allowed except in Aramco compounds in which many expatriates attend church services. Saudi Arabia's cultural heritage is celebrated at the annual Jenadriyah cultural festival.

However, secret negotiations are rumored to be taking place between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia regarding authorization to build Catholic Churches in the Kingdom.

Economy Economy - overview: Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses more than 20% of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 5.5 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors. High oil prices have boosted growth, government revenues, and Saudi ownership of foreign assets, while enabling Riyadh to pay down domestic debt. The government is encouraging private sector growth - especially in power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemicals - to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil exports and to increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population, nearly 40% of which are youths under 15 years old. Unemployment is high, and the large youth population generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training and education, infrastructure development, and government salaries. As part of its effort to attract foreign investment and diversify the economy, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005 after many years of negotiations. The government has announced plans to establish six "economic cities" in different regions of the country to promote development and diversification.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $546 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $376 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $19,800 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3%
industry: 63.7%
services: 33.3% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 6.563 million
note: about one-third of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 12%
industry: 25%
services: 63% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 13% among Saudi males only (local bank estimate; some estimates range as high as 25%) (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed): 20% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $163 billion
expenditures: $118.3 billion (2007 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 24.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.1% (2007 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Commercial bank prime lending rate: NA
Stock of money: $102.4 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $109.5 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $66.94 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk
Industries: crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction
Industrial production growth rate: 2.9% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 165.6 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - consumption: 146.9 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil - production: 11 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption: 2 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil - exports: 8.9 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 264.3 billion bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production: 68.32 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 68.32 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 6.568 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $86.62 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $226.7 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90%
Exports - partners: US 16.9%, Japan 16.1%, South Korea 10.3%, China 8%, Taiwan 4.8% (2007)
Imports: $82.64 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles
Imports - partners: US 12.6%, China 9.4%, Germany 8.8%, Japan 8.1%, Italy 5%, UK 4.5%, South Korea 4.1% (2007)
Economic aid - donor: since 2002, Saudi Arabia has provided more than $480 million in budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority, supported Palestinian refugees through contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), provided more than $250 million to Arab League funds for the Palestinians, and pledged $500 million in assistance over the next three years at the Donors Conference in Dec 2007; pledged $230 million to development in Afghanistan; pledged $1 billion in export guarantees and soft loans to Iraq; pledged $133 million in direct grant aid, $187 million in concessional loans, and $153 million in export credits for Pakistan earthquake relief; pledged a total of $1.59 billion to Lebanon in assistance and deposits to the Central Bank of Lebanon in 2006 and pledged an additional $1.1 billion in early 2007
Economic aid - recipient: $26.29 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $34.01 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $58.6 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $NA
Market value of publicly traded shares: $326.9 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Saudi riyal (SAR)
Currency code: SAR
Exchange rates: Saudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar - 3.745 (2007), 3.745 (2006), 3.747 (2005), 3.75 (2004), 3.75 (2003)
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 3.996 million (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 28.381 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable systems; mobile-cellular subscribership has been increasing rapidly
international: country code - 966; landing point for the international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks providing connectivity to Asia, Middle East, Europe, and US; microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 6.25 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 117 (1997)
Televisions: 5.1 million (1997)
Internet country code: .sa
Internet hosts: 141,232 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 22 (2003)
Internet users: 6.2 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 213 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 77
over 3,047 m: 32
2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 136
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 73
914 to 1,523 m: 39
under 914 m: 15 (2007)
Heliports: 8 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 212 km; gas 1,880 km; liquid petroleum gas 1,183 km; oil 4,521 km; refined products 1,148 km (2007)
Railways: total: 1,392 km
standard gauge: 1,392 km 1.435-m gauge (with branch lines and sidings) (2006)
Roadways: total: 221,372 km
paved: 47,529 km (includes 3,891 km of expressways)
unpaved: 173,843 km (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 62
by type: cargo 5, chemical tanker 13, container 5, passenger/cargo 8, petroleum tanker 20, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 8
foreign-owned: 12 (Egypt 1, Greece 3, Kuwait 7, UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 71 (Bahamas 16, Comoros 1, Dominica 2, France 1, Liberia 27, Marshall Islands 5, Norway 3, Panama 16) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Jiddah, Yanbu' al Sinaiyah
Military Military branches: Land Forces (Army), Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, National Guard, Ministry of Interior Forces (paramilitary)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 8,547,441
females age 16-49: 6,381,098 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 7,398,417
females age 16-49: 5,525,357 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 271,905
female: 261,795 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 10% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: Saudi Arabia has reinforced its concrete-filled security barrier along sections of the now fully demarcated border with Yemen to stem illegal cross-border activities; Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue discussions on a maritime boundary with Iran
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 240,015 (Palestinian Territories) (2007)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Saudi Arabia is a destination country for workers from South and Southeast Asia who are subjected to conditions that constitute involuntary servitude including being subjected to physical and sexual abuse, non-payment of wages, confinement, and withholding of passports as a restriction on their movement; domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because some are confined to the house in which they work unable to seek help; Saudi Arabia is also a destination country for Nigerian, Yemeni, Pakistani, Afghan, Somali, Malian, and Sudanese children trafficked for forced begging and involuntary servitude as street vendors; some Nigerian women were reportedly trafficked into Saudi Arabia for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government continues to lack adequate anti-trafficking laws and, despite evidence of widespread trafficking abuses, did not report any criminal prosecutions, convictions, or prison sentences for trafficking crimes committed against foreign domestic workers (2008)
Illicit drugs: death penalty for traffickers; improving anti-money-laundering legislation and enforcement