Saudi Arabia Highlights




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General Information
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of the Islam and has the regions holiest cities (Mecca and Medina) Due to the enormous revenue from oil exports, this country boomed in the 70 and 80’s. In terms of oil reserves, Saudi Arabia ranks first internationally, with about one-fifth of the world’s known reserves. Resulting in lots of capital and developments converting a third world country into a modern country. Large numbers of foreign workers were imported to do the highly technical work but also the simplest work. Women were not permitted to drive for much of Saudi Arabia’s history—until June 2018, when the ban was lifted. However still today woman require a guardian who have authority to make several decisions on behalf of woman the same as a legal guardian has over a minor in the western world. The guardian is normally either the father until her marriage or her husband during their marriage. If no husband or Father, it is usually her brother or son. Even though woman no longer need permission to work or study by her guardian most employers or universities continue to ask permission as a condition of employment or enrolment into the university. Water is a major problem in Saudi Arabia; hence they have built the largest single desalination program in the world, which meets most domestic and industrial needs. Underwater aquifers provide a limited amount of potable water, and a great deal of energy has been committed to constructing dams for water storage and to developing water-recycling plants. Under Islam banks are not allowed to charge interest hence this is bypassed by charging fees for lending and pay commissions for deposits. Nearly 25% of the population are foreign workers.

During our visit in 2010, women were not allowed to drive, with our right-hand drive motorhome this resulted in many times being stopped by police assuming that Clary was driving. Unfortunately, we only had 4 days to drive from Jeddah to the Jordan border hence we had no time to visit any sites except the city of Jeddah. However Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to fling open its doors to foreign tourists, means things will change? And changes are happening to a largely closed country for foreigners. This includes woman  since June 2018 are allowed to drive a motor vehicle and Saudi Hotels are now open to unmarried foreign couples (Foreign couples only) during our visit we had to prove we were married. However, it remains a country with no political freedom, no free speech, no alcohol allowed, very little mingling of the sexes and – like several other countries in the Middle East – it has a much-criticised human rights record. Our visit only consisted of one major area Jeddah. We tried to enter Mecca but were told to turn around as Mecca is only for Muslims.