The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with an area of about 865,000 square miles, occupies the bulk of the
Arabian Peninsula, located in the southwest of Asia.
Saudi Arabia lies at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. It extends from the Red
Sea in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east. To the north, it borders on Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait, and to
the south, on Yemen and Oman. To the east lie the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia’s terrain is varied but on the whole fairly barren and harsh, with salt flats, gravel plains and
sand dunes and only a few lakes or permanent streams. In the south is the Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter),
the largest sand desert in the world. In the southwest, the mountain ranges of Asir Province rise to over
;From June through August, midday temperature in the desert can soar to over 100 deg. F. Humidity in the
coastal regions may approach 100 percent at times. In contrast, weather in other areas of the country may
be mild throughout the year. Winter temperatures in the northern and central regions may drop to below
freezing. Rainfall ranges from none at all for up to 10 years in the Rub Al-Khali, to 20 inches a year in the
mountains of Asir Province.
Saudi Arabia is on Greenwich Mean Time plus three hours (GMT+3). This is equivalent to Eastern
Standard Time plus eight hours; seven hours during Daylight Savings Time.
TRANSPORTATION ; COMMUNICATIONS
By the early 1990s, the Kingdom possessed a network of nearly 80,000 miles of roads including an
extensive expressway system.
Saudi Arabia has the only rail system on the Arabian Peninsula. It carries about half a million passengers
and one and a half million tons of goods annually.
Saudia, the national airline, is the largest airline in the Middle East, with international flights serving
destinations all over the world and a domestic network covering the country. Through three international
and 22 domestic airports in Saudi Arabia, a total of more than 20 million passengers travel on Saudia
annually. There are modern seaports and oil terminals on the Red Sea and on the Arabian Gulf.
Saudi Arabia’s communication system is one of the world’s most modern. By 1992, there were more than
1.64 million telephone lines, and by the year 2000 this number will increase to nearly 3 million.
International direct dial phone service is available throughout the country. The country code for Saudi
Arabia is 966, and the major area codes are: Riyadh – 1; Jeddah, Makkah, and Taif -2; Dammam and
Dhahran – 3; and Madinah, Tabuk, Yanbu – 4.
Newspapers, magazines and radio and television programs are available in Arabic and English.
ENERGY AND MINERALS
More than a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves lie beneath the sands and offshore waters of Saudi
Arabia. The discovery of these reserves and the building of the necessary facilities to make possible their
use over the past half century have made Saudi Arabia the largest exporter of oil and natural gas liquids in
the world. This has enabled the Kingdom to bring about one of the greatest physical transformations
achieved by any nation in such a short time. With the introduction of the first five-year development plan in
1970, Saudi Arabia has spent approximately 900 billion U.S. dollars, generated largely through the sale of
oil and its products, to establish a sophisticated infrastructure and modern educational, health and other
facilities. The existence of such vast hydrocarbon deposits within its territory has bestowed on Saudi
Arabia a unique role. In response, the Kingdom has adopted an energy policy based on a commitment to
maintain stability in world markets.
The country has also focused on developing its other energy and mineral resources. Natural gas that was
once flared off is now collected and utilized. The Kingdom has become a producer of refined oil products
and petrochemicals, such as fuel, diesel oil, kerosene and gasoline. With recent discoveries of precious
metals and other deposits, Saudi Arabia expects to become a major exporter of minerals in coming decades.
These newly-identified resources, along with programs to diversify the country’s energy sources, are being
developed to build a