History of Saudi Arabia

Looking back at the early civilizations of Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s culture was formed and evolved from the time of the 1st millennium when Mineans built its kingdom in the southwestern Arabia. Their economy was based on nomadic lifestyles and incense was used as their means of exchange or trade. Then during the first century before the birth of Christ that another kingdom called Nabatean was established this time by the north of Minean while the eastern parts of Arabia was inhabited by Dilmun. Most of these people were traders or merchants.

When the Wahhabis were driven out of Mecca during the 18th century, they were able to attain the allegiance of the Saud, a very powerful family of Nejd in central Arabia. Their power has enabled them to conquer lands which became their way to expand territories. Wahhabi is a reform movement in Islam founded by Muhammad Ibn Abd al- Wahab. They referred to as Muwahhidun/Unitarians. At 1811, the Wahhabi movement trodden by an Egyptian expedition led by the sons of Muhammad Ali. Though the movement regained itself at mid-19th century, the Wahhabis were defeated by the Rahid. The Rahid dynasty in turn, had full domination of central Arabia. At 1889, the Saud family fled into the neighboring state of Kuwait.

In 1902, King Ibn Saud (Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud), a descendant of Wahhabi leaders, seized Riyadh once more and led the Arab nationalist movement. He once again established Wahhabi dominance in Nejd in 1906. Then he conquered the Al-Hasa region from the Ottoman Turks and soon gained full control over other areas. Hejaz, the region ruled by Husayn Ibn Ali of Mecca, fell to Saud in 1924-1925. These two regions merged and formed the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. The region of Asir was incorporated into the kingdom a year after. It is lead by monarchy under the Islamic law up to present. Saudi Arabia was formed by territories made by the assembly of lands conquered by the Sauds.

The early years of Saudi Arabia were quite difficult due to its declining pilgrim trade to Mecca and Medina, which resulted to fall of revenues. Not long after, exports of oil came into place. Oil was discovered by a US company, Arabian Standard Oil. In 1944, the reformation of Arabian Standard Oil to Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) paved the way of making Saudi Arabia known for having the world’s largest reserves of oil. From there, after the death of King Ibn Saud in 1953, there were many efforts made to modernize the administration, unite Islamic traditions with the 20th century developments and control oil prices. King Ibn Saud was succeeded by his eldest son. In 1964, Saud was overthrown, making Faisal king. In 1975, King Faisal was assassinated and Khalid became the king. After he died during the rise of Islam fundamentalism, Prince Fahd took over the government. Then due to his stroke, his half-brother Prince Abdullah succeeded who is currently Saudi Arabia’s leader.

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