more Saudi Arabia

Brief Introduction of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the largest Arab state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab world (after Algeria). It is bordered by Jordanand Iraq on the north and northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, and Yemen on the south. The Red Sea lies to its west, and the Persian Gulf lies to the east. Saudi Arabia has an area of approximately 2,250,000 km2(870,000 sq mi), and it has an estimated population of 27 million, of which 9 million are registered foreign expatriates and an estimated 2 million are illegal immigrants. Saudi nationals comprise an estimated 16 million people.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded by Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (known for most of his career as Ibn Saud) in 1932, although the conquests which eventually led to the creation of the Kingdom began in 1902 when he captured Riyadh, the ancestral home of his family, the House of Saud, referred to in Arabic as Al Saud. The Saudi Arabian government, which has been an absolute monarchy since its inception, refers to its system of government as being Islamic, though this is contested by many due to its strong basis in Wahhabism and Salafism, which are minority schools of thought in Islam. The kingdom is sometimes called "The Land of the Two Holy Mosques" in reference to Al-Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca), and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (in Medina), the two holiest places in Islam.
Saudi Arabia has the world's second largest oil reserves which are concentrated largely in the Eastern Province and oil accounts for more than 95% of exports and 70% of government revenue. This facilitates the creation of a welfare state although the share of the non-oil economy is growing recently. It has also the world's sixth largest natural gas reserves.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, although, according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by royal decree in 1992, the king must comply with Sharia (that is, Islamic law) and the Quran. The Quran and the Sunnah (the traditions of Muhammad) are declared to be the country's constitution, but no written modern constitution has ever been written for Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia remains the only Arab Nation where no national elections have ever taken place, since its creation. No political parties or national elections are permitted and according to The Economist's 2010 Democracy Index, the Saudi government is the seventh most authoritarian regime from among the 167 countries rated.
On 25 September 2011, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has announced that women will have the right to stand and vote in future local elections and join the advisory Shura council as full members.

Administrative divisions
Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces. The provinces are further divided into 118 governorates. This number includes the 13 provincial capitals, which have a different status as municipalities headed by mayors. The governorates are further subdivided into sub-governorates.

Saudi Arabia's command economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry. The oil industry comprises about 45% of Saudi Arabia's nominal gross domestic product, compared with 40% from the private sector. Saudi Arabia officially has about 260 billion barrels (4.1×1010 m3) of oil reserves, comprising about one-fifth of the world's proven total petroleum reserves.
The government is attempting to promote growth in the private sector by privatizing industries such as power and telecommunications. Saudi Arabia announced plans to begin privatizing the electricity companies in 1999, which followed the ongoing privatization of the telecommunications company. Shortages of water and rapid population growth may constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.
In the 1990s, Saudi Arabia experienced a significant contraction of oil revenues combined with a high rate of population growth. Per capita income fell from a high of $11,700 at the height of the oil boom in 1981 to $6,300 in 1998. Increases in oil prices since 2000 have helped boost per capita GDP to $17,000 in 2007 dollars, or about $7,400 adjusted for inflation. Taking into account the impact of the real oil price changes on the Kingdom's real gross domestic income, the real command-basis GDP was computed to be 330.381 billion 1999 USD in 2010.
Oil price increases of 2008–2009 have triggered a second oil boom, pushing Saudi Arabia's budget surplus to $28 billion (110SR billion) in 2005.Tadawul (the Saudi stock market index) finished 2004 with a massive 76.23% to close at 4437.58 points. Market capitalization was up 110.14% from a year earlier to stand at $157.3 billion (589.93SR billion), which makes it the biggest stock market in the Middle East.‏
OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) limits its members' oil production based on their "proven reserves." The higher their reserves, the more OPEC allows them to produce.[citation needed] Saudi Arabia's published reserves have shown little change since 1980, with the main exception being an increase of about 100 billion barrels (1.6×1010 m3) between 1987 and 1988. Matthew Simmons has suggested that Saudi Arabia is greatly exaggerating its reserves and may soon show production declines.
Saudi Arabia is one of only a few fast-growing countries in the world with a relatively high per capita income of $24,200 (2010). Saudi Arabia will be launching six "economic cities" (e.g. King Abdullah Economic City) which are planned to be completed by 2020. These six new industrialized cities are intended to diversify the economy of Saudi Arabia, and are expected to increase the per capita income. The King of Saudi Arabia has announced that the per capita income is forecast to rise from $15,000 in 2006 to $33,500 in 2020. The cities will be spread around Saudi Arabia to promote diversification for each region and their economy, and the cities are projected to contribute $150 billion to the GDP.
However the urban areas of Riyadh and Jeddah are expected to contribute $287 billion dollars by the year 2020.

Education is free at all levels. The school system is composed of elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools. A large part of the curriculum at all levels is devoted to Islam, and, at the secondary level, students are able to follow either a religious or a technical track. Girls are able to attend school, but fewer girls attend than boys. This disproportion is reflected in the rate of literacy, which exceeds 85 percent among males and is about 70 percent among females. Classes are segregated by gender. Higher education has expanded rapidly, with large numbers of Universities and colleges being founded particularly since 2000. Institutions of higher education include the country's first University, King Saud University founded in 1957, the Islamic University at Medina founded in 1961, and the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah founded in 1967. Other colleges and universities emphasize curricula in sciences and technology, military studies, religion, and medicine. Institutes devoted to Islamic studies, in particular, abound. Women typically receive college instruction in segregated institutions.
The study of Islam dominates the Saudi educational system. In particular, the memorization by rote of large parts of the Qu'ran, its interpretation and understanding (Tafsir) and the application of Islamic tradition to everyday life is at the core of the curriculum. Religion taught in this manner is also a compulsory subject for all University students. As a consequence, Saudi youth "generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs" according to the CIA. Similarly, The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote in 2010 that "the country needs educated young Saudis with marketable skills and a capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship. That's not generally what Saudi Arabia's educational system delivers, steeped as it is in rote learning and religious instruction."