The Hajj Today

Modern Saudi City

The spiritual centre of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia is the sacred Birthplace of Mohammad, Islam and Arabic, the divine language of the Muslims Its vast deserts include the Rub al Khali, one of the largest in the world A fitting backdrop to the largely nomadic and semi-nomadic tribal culture That dominated the Arabian Peninsula (of which Saudi Arabia comprises 80%). The Saudi state was first established in about 1750 when a local ruler Mohammad Bin Saud merged with an Islamic reformer, Mohammad And Al-Wahhab. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by King Abdul Aziz Al Saud (Ibn Saud) and named after the dynastic family of the Sauds.

In 1902, Ibn Saud captured Riyadh with his Bedouin followers and gradually, Took other major cities and regions including the Hijaz (Mecca and Medina) In 1924.

Eventually in 1932, Ibn Saud united the disparate regions and proclaimed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ibn Saud's belief in a strict Sunni interpretation Of Islam known as Wahhabism led to the strong religious basis of a governing Saudi Arabian authority. Observing Sharia (Islamic) law, the Holy Quran Forms the constitution of the country.

The rugged Saudi landscape In 1938, the discovery of oil transformed the kingdom. One of the wealthiest Nations in the Middle East, Saudi's oil commodities enabled rapid economic Progress and now constitutes 75% of the national income.

Holding the largest oil reserves in the world, Saudi is now the world's Leading oil producer and exporter but for an economy so vulnerable to Fluctuating oil prices, various political and economic dilemmas perhaps lie Ahead.

Oil nonetheless enabled a once uninhabitable desert land to undertake Development programmes, urbanization and industrialization and transform an Arid kingdom into a prosperous, modern country.

Now ruled by King Fahd, in 1986 he accorded himself the official title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' to express his devotion to Islam and Appoint himself the official overseer of the Holy Places on behalf of the Kingdom. Since 1995 King Fahd's half-brother Crown Prince Abdullah has ruled Saudi Arabia, due to the king's ill-health.

King Fahd's will be remembered for his ability to balance the demands of Islamic traditionalists and modernists, Western and Islamic states. It has been his crowning achievement.