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.


Construction of the Hejaz railroad, 1906

Laying the Hejaz railroad tracks near Tabuk, 1906


Camel caravan of pilgrims to Mecca, 1910 

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

Ruin city of al-Hijr, 1914


The Ka’aba in the 1920s


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


Entourage of King Abdulaziz, 1945

Royal bodyguards of Saudi Arabia, 1947


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


Car washing in Riyadh, 1960s

King Khalid Street in Khobar, 1960s


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

Jeddah street view, 1970s

Women in Khobar, 1970s


Caravan Shopping Center in Jeddah, 1982

Jeddah rising, 1984


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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