25 Amazing Facts About Saudi Arabia
How many do you know?
A woman at the Janadriyah Cultural Festival in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a fascinating place – and for so many reasons. Here are some of the highlights that will leave you in awe.
There’s so much to know about Saudi Arabia and these 25 amazing facts are just scratching the surface. How many more secrets and amazing facts do you know about the country?
1. The Arabian Peninsula is the world’s largest peninsula.
2. The Saudi king’s official title is that of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”
3. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river – but there are many wadis and huge coastlines on the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.
4. Saudi Arabia is the 13th largest country in the world. It is the largest country in the Middle East, about the size of Western Europe and one-quarter the size of the U.S.
5. Fresh water is more expensive than oil.
6. Saudi Arabia has four UNESCO world heritage sites. (image: Al-Ahsa Oasis)
7. With an elevation of around 3km above sea level, Jabal Sawda is the highest peak in Saudi Arabia.
8. Out of this world! In 1985, Prince Sultan bin Salman became the first Saudi, first Arab, and the first Muslim to travel in space when he rode aboard the U.S. space shuttle Discovery.
9. Annually, millions of people make the trip to Mecca for hajj and the most recent records speak of 2.4 million pilgrims.
10. Camel meat is a pretty common dish and speaking of camels, over 100 camels are sold every day at a market in Riyadh!
11. This fact is a bit out there: 350 million years ago, there was actually a six-meter tall mushroom in Saudi Arabia. Scientists claim that it was likely the largest living thing on dry land at that time.
12. Here’s another crazy nature one: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has volcanoes! The last well-documented eruption in Saudi Arabia occurred in the northern end of Harrat Rahat near Medina in 1256 AD / 654 AH and continued for 52 days. The lava flow reached to within 12 km of the city before activity ceased. (Image: Harrat Rahat)
13. Although it’s rare, temperatures can actually drop drastically in Saudi Arabia and it can even snow or hail in areas like Tabuk.
14. The Ghawar oil field is the largest in the world and it has enough reserves to fill, wait for it, 4,770,897 Olympic swimming pools! The kingdom's oil reserves are huge.
15. The South American country Venezuela actually has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia but it produces less than a forth of what Saudi produces per year.
16. Almost half of the country’s GDP comes from oil and about 22% of the entire world’s reserved are in Saudi Arabia.
17. …and the natural resources don’t stop there: Saudi Arabia also has the with largest gas reserve in the entire world.
18. The Jeddah Tower that is currently under construction will be world’s tallest building. It will take the top spot from the current tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Jeddah Tower will be a dizzying 1-kilometer tall!
19. Approximately 95% of the country is classified as desert or semi-desert and only 1.45% of the land is arable. (Image: An Nafud)
20. The national language of Saudi Arabia is of course Arabic, and there are actually many English words that derive from Arabic, for example: Alchemy/chemistry, alcohol, algebra, alkaline, almanac, arsenal, assassin, candy, cipher, coffee, cotton, elixir, garbage, gauze, giraffe, guitar, harem, hazard, humus, jar, jasmine, lemon, lime, magazine, mattress, mohair, mosque, mummy, nadir, orange, ream, rook, safari, saffron, sash, sequin, silk, spinach, sugar, syrup, tamarind, tangerine, tariff, tuna, and zero.
21. Saudi Arabia is very young: About half of the country is under the age of 24 and only 5% of the population over 60.
22. The national sword dance called “al Ardah” is performed for many different occasions and was originally performed by the Shammar tribe before going to war.
23. The world’s first coffee house was recorded in Mecca in 1470 but the drink was later banned in the city in 1511. Coffee was actually hardly consumed outside of the Middle East until the 17th century.
24. Non-Muslims are not allowed to have Saudi citizenship
25. Every year in late winter/early spring outside the city of Riyadh there is a two-week cultural and heritage festival that celebrates of all things Saudi. There is everything from military shows, dancing, falconry, and camel races and each province of the kingdom is represented with its own pavilion.