Time Travel: Saudi Arabia in the 20th Century

100 years in snapshots. How much do you recognize?


1960 Street scene in Jeddah

Saudi Arabia has seen an unprecedented wave of change and modernization sweep the kingdom, especially over the whole last century. Below is a collection of snapshots that were taken from the early 1900s and ending with the 1990s. It’s both fascinating and entertaining to see how far the whole region has come in a few short decades.
 

1900s


Construction of the Hejaz railroad, 1906


Laying the Hejaz railroad tracks near Tabuk, 1906
 

1910s


Camel caravan of pilgrims to Mecca, 1910 


Medina: Central station in front of the west gate, 1914


Ruin city of al-Hijr, 1914
 

1920s


The Ka’aba in the 1920s
 

1930s


King Abdulaziz and the US Petrol Minister, laying the groundwork for the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (ARAMCO) 1934


Dammam: The first commercial oil well in Saudi Arabia, 1938
 

1940s


Entourage of King Abdulaziz, 1945


Royal bodyguards of Saudi Arabia, 1947
 

1950s


A group of people looking at an Aramco airplane after landing in Dhahran, 1950s


A view of the Ras Tanura Government Customs House, 1952


Shoppers strolling down King Saud Street in Al-Khobar, 1954
 

1960s


Car washing in Riyadh, 1960s


King Khalid Street in Khobar, 1960s
 

1970s


A Saudi family walking on the streets of Dammam, 1970s


Jeddah street view, 1970s


Women in Khobar, 1970s
 

1980s


Caravan Shopping Center in Jeddah, 1982


Jeddah rising, 1984
 

1990s


Aerial shot of Riyadh, 1990s

That’s one large sweep, from the beginning of the century where you see camels and a new railway being built, until the skyline starts to change fundamentally in the 1990s. Every country changes in 100 years but Saudi Arabia is a cut above many of them in terms of speed and innovation. At this rate, one can only imagine where the 21st century will take us.

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