Photos of Saudi Arabia

Introduction

Background

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman AL SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. One of his male descendants rules the country today, as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong ongoing campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. US troops returned to the Kingdom in October 2019 after attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure.

From 2005 to 2015, King ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud incrementally modernized the Kingdom. Driven by personal ideology and political pragmatism, he introduced a series of social and economic initiatives, including expanding employment and social opportunities for women, attracting foreign investment, increasing the role of the private sector in the economy, and discouraging businesses from hiring foreign workers. These reforms have accelerated under King SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz, who ascended to the throne in 2015, and has since lifted the Kingdom's ban on women driving, implemented education reforms, funded green initiatives, and allowed cinemas to operate for the first time in decades. Saudi Arabia saw some protests during the 2011 Arab Spring but not the level of bloodshed seen in protests elsewhere in the region. Shia Muslims in the Eastern Province protested primarily against the detention of political prisoners, endemic discrimination, and Bahraini and Saudi Government actions in Bahrain. Riyadh took a cautious but firm approach by arresting some protesters but releasing most of them quickly and by using its state-sponsored clerics to counter political and Islamist activism.

The government held its first-ever elections in 2005 and 2011, when Saudis went to the polls to elect municipal councilors. In December 2015, women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates for the first time in municipal council elections, with 19 women winning seats. After King SALMAN ascended to the throne in 2015, he placed the first next-generation prince, MUHAMMAD BIN NAYIF bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, in the line of succession as Crown Prince. He designated his son, MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, as the Deputy Crown Prince. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of 10 countries in a military campaign to restore the legitimate government of Yemen, which had been ousted by Houthi forces allied with former president ALI ABDULLAH al-Salih. The war in Yemen has drawn international criticism for civilian casualties and its effect on the country’s dire humanitarian situation. In December 2015, then Deputy Crown Prince MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced Saudi Arabia would lead a 34-nation Islamic Coalition to fight terrorism (it has since grown to 41 nations). In May 2017, Saudi Arabia inaugurated the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology (also known as "Etidal") as part of its ongoing efforts to counter violent extremism. In June 2017, King SALMAN elevated MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN to Crown Prince and in September 2022 appointed him prime minister.

The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds about 17% of the world's proven oil reserves as of 2020. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in 2005 and promotes foreign investment in the Kingdom. In April 2016, the Saudi Government announced a broad set of socio-economic reforms, known as Vision 2030. Low global oil prices throughout 2015 and 2016 significantly lowered Saudi Arabia’s governmental revenue. In response, the government cut subsidies on water, electricity, and gasoline; reduced government employee compensation packages; and announced limited new land taxes. In coordination with OPEC and some key non-OPEC countries, Saudi Arabia agreed to cut oil output in early 2017 to regulate supply and help elevate global prices. In early 2020, this agreement by the so-called OPEC+ coalition collapsed. Saudi Arabia launched a price war by flooding the market with low-priced oil before returning to the negotiating table to agree to OPEC+’s largest and longest-lasting output cut. This cut helped to buoy prices that had collapsed as a result of the price war and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen

Geographic coordinates

25 00 N, 45 00 E

Map references

Middle East

Area

total: 2,149,690 sq km

land: 2,149,690 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 14

Area - comparative

slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 4,272 km

border countries (7): Iraq 811 km; Jordan 731 km; Kuwait 221 km; Oman 658 km; Qatar 87 km; UAE 457 km; Yemen 1,307 km

Coastline

2,640 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 18 nm

continental shelf: not specified

Climate

harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes

Terrain

mostly sandy desert

Elevation

highest point: As Sarawat range, 3,000 m

lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m

mean elevation: 665 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper

Land use

agricultural land: 80.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.5% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 79.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 0.5% (2018 est.)

other: 18.8% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

11,910 sq km (2018)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Major aquifers

Arabian Aquifer System

Population distribution

historically a population that was mostly nomadic or semi-nomadic, the Saudi population has become more settled since petroleum was discovered in the 1930s; most of the economic activities - and with it the country's population - is concentrated in a wide area across the middle of the peninsula, from Ad Dammam in the east, through Riyadh in the interior, to Mecca-Medina in the west near the Red Sea

Natural hazards

frequent sand and dust storms

volcanism: despite many volcanic formations, there has been little activity in the past few centuries; volcanoes include Harrat Rahat, Harrat Khaybar, Harrat Lunayyir, and Jabal Yar

Geography - note

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river; extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea allow for considerable shipping (especially of crude oil) through the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal

People and Society

Population

35,939,806 (2023 est.)

note: immigrants make up 38.3% of the total population, according to UN data (2019)

comparison ranking: 42

Nationality

noun: Saudi(s)

adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian

Ethnic groups

Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Languages

Arabic (official)

major-language sample(s):
كتاب حقائق العالم، المصدر الذي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Arabic audio sample:

Religions

Muslim (official; citizens are 85-90% Sunni and 10-12% Shia), other (includes Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh) (2020 est.)

note: despite having a large expatriate community of various faiths (more than 30% of the population), most forms of public religious expression inconsistent with the government-sanctioned interpretation of Sunni Islam are restricted; non-Muslims are not allowed to have Saudi citizenship and non-Muslim places of worship are not permitted (2013)

MENA religious affiliation

Age structure

0-14 years: 23.45% (male 4,298,399/female 4,130,547)

15-64 years: 72.36% (male 15,251,742/female 10,752,649)

65 years and over: 4.19% (2023 est.) (male 799,270/female 707,199)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 40.4

youth dependency ratio: 36.8

elderly dependency ratio: 3.7

potential support ratio: 27.4 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 32 years (2023 est.)

male: 34.2 years

female: 29 years

comparison ranking: total 115

Population growth rate

1.65% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 58

Birth rate

13.9 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 125

Death rate

3.5 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 219

Net migration rate

6.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 17

Population distribution

historically a population that was mostly nomadic or semi-nomadic, the Saudi population has become more settled since petroleum was discovered in the 1930s; most of the economic activities - and with it the country's population - is concentrated in a wide area across the middle of the peninsula, from Ad Dammam in the east, through Riyadh in the interior, to Mecca-Medina in the west near the Red Sea

Urbanization

urban population: 85% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.69% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

7.682 million RIYADH (capital), 4.863 million Jeddah, 2.150 million Mecca, 1.573 million Medina, 1.329 million Ad Dammam, 872,000 million Hufuf-Mubarraz (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.42 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.13 male(s)/female

total population: 1.31 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

16 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 134

Infant mortality rate

total: 12 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 13.2 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 10.7 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 112

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.9 years (2023 est.)

male: 75.3 years

female: 78.6 years

comparison ranking: total population 96

Total fertility rate

1.89 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 127

Gross reproduction rate

0.92 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

5.5% of GDP (2018)

Physicians density

2.74 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

2.2 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

35.4% (2016)

comparison ranking: 14

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 185

Tobacco use

total: 14.3% (2020 est.)

male: 26.5% (2020 est.)

female: 2% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 110

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

3.5% (2020) NA

comparison ranking: 83

Education expenditures

7.8% of GDP (2020) NA

comparison ranking: 12

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.6%

male: 98.6%

female: 96% (2020)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years

male: 17 years

female: 16 years (2021)

Environment

Environment - current issues

desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills; air pollution; waste management

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Climate

harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes

Land use

agricultural land: 80.7% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.5% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 79.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 0.5% (2018 est.)

other: 18.8% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 85% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.69% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 178

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 84

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 57.16 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 563.45 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 45.47 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 16,125,701 tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 2,418,855 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 15% (2015 est.)

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Major aquifers

Arabian Aquifer System

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 3.39 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 1.4 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 21.2 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

2.4 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

conventional short form: Saudi Arabia

local long form: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah

local short form: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah

etymology: named after the ruling dynasty of the country, the House of Saud; the name "Arabia" can be traced back many centuries B.C., the ancient Egyptians referred to the region as "Ar Rabi"

Government type

absolute monarchy

Capital

name: Riyadh

geographic coordinates: 24 39 N, 46 42 E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name derives from the Arabic word "riyadh," meaning "gardens," and refers to various oasis towns in the area that merged to form the city

Administrative divisions

13 regions (manatiq, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah (Northern Border), Al Jawf, Al Madinah al Munawwarah (Medina), Al Qasim, Ar Riyad (Riyadh), Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jazan, Makkah al Mukarramah (Mecca), Najran, Tabuk

Independence

23 September 1932 (unification of the kingdom)

National holiday

Saudi National Day (Unification of the Kingdom), 23 September (1932)

Constitution

history: 1 March 1992 - Basic Law of Government, issued by royal decree, serves as the constitutional framework and is based on the Qur'an and the life and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad

amendments: proposed by the king directly or proposed to the king by the Consultative Assembly or by the Council of Ministers; passage by the king through royal decree; Basic Law amended many times, last in 2017

Legal system

Islamic (sharia) legal system with some elements of Egyptian, French, and customary law; note - several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Saudi Arabia; a child born out of wedlock in Saudi Arabia to a Saudi mother and unknown father

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal for municipal elections

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/saudi-women-go-to-the-polls-finally

Executive branch

chief of state: King SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 23 January 2015); Crown Prince MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (born 31 August 1985)

head of government: Crown Prince and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 27 September 2022)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch every 4 years and includes many royal family members

elections/appointments: none; the monarchy is hereditary; an Allegiance Council created by royal decree in October 2006 established a committee of Saudi princes for a voice in selecting future Saudi kings

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 seats plus a speaker; members appointed by the monarch to serve 4-year terms); note - in early 2013, the monarch granted women 30 seats on the Council

note: composition as of 2021 - men 121, women 30, percent of women 19.9%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): High Court (consists of the court chief and organized into circuits with 3-judge panels, except for the criminal circuit, which has a 5-judge panel for cases involving major punishments)

judge selection and term of office: High Court chief and chiefs of the High Court Circuits appointed by royal decree upon the recommendation of the Supreme Judiciary Council, a 10-member body of high-level judges and other judicial heads; new judges and assistant judges serve 1- and 2-year probations, respectively, before permanent assignment

subordinate courts: Court of Appeals; Specialized Criminal Court, first-degree courts composed of general, criminal, personal status, and commercial courts; Labor Court; a hierarchy of administrative courts

International organization participation

ABEDA, AfDB (nonregional member), AFESD, AMF, BIS, BRICS, CAEU, CP, FAO, G-20, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNOOSA, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan AL SAUD (since 8 July 2019)

chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037

telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800

FAX: [1] (202) 295-3625

email address and website:
info@saudiembassy.net; Saudisusemb@mofa.gov.sa

https://www.saudiembassy.net/

consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Michael RATNEY (since 27 April 2023)

embassy: Riyadh 11564

mailing address: 6300 Riyadh Place, Washington DC  20521-6300

telephone: [966] (11) 835-4000

FAX: [966] (11) 488-7360

email address and website:
RiyadhACS@state.gov

https://sa.usembassy.gov/

consulate(s) general: Dhahran, Jeddah

Flag description

green, a traditional color in Islamic flags, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script (translated as "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God") above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); design dates to the early twentieth century and is closely associated with the Al Saud family, which established the kingdom in 1932; the flag is manufactured with differing obverse and reverse sides so that the Shahada reads - and the sword points - correctly from right to left on both sides

note: the only national flag to display an inscription as its principal design; one of only three national flags that differ on their obverse and reverse sides - the others are Moldova and Paraguay

National symbol(s)

palm tree surmounting two crossed swords; national colors: green, white

National anthem

name: "Aash Al Maleek" (Long Live Our Beloved King)

lyrics/music: Ibrahim KHAFAJI/Abdul Rahman al-KHATEEB

note: music adopted 1947, lyrics adopted 1984

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 7 (6 cultural, 1 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Hegra Archaeological Site (al-Hijr / Madā ͐ in Ṣāliḥ) (c); At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah (c); Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah (c); Rock Art in the Hail Region (c); Al-Ahsa Oasis (c); Ḥimā Cultural Area (c); ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid (n)

Economy

Economic overview

high-income, oil-based Middle Eastern economy; OPEC leader; diversifying portfolio; declining per-capita incomes; young labor force; key human capital gaps; heavy bureaucracy and increasing corruption; substantial poverty; low innovation economy

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.827 trillion (2022 est.)
$1.681 trillion (2021 est.)
$1.612 trillion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 17

Real GDP growth rate

8.68% (2022 est.)
4.33% (2021 est.)
-4.34% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 26

Real GDP per capita

$50,200 (2022 est.)
$46,800 (2021 est.)
$44,800 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 31

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.109 trillion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.47% (2022 est.)
3.06% (2021 est.)
3.45% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 37

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: A (2019)

Moody's rating: A1 (2016)

Standard & Poors rating: A- (2016)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 2.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 44.2% (2017 est.)

services: 53.2% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 166; industry 20; agriculture 159

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 41.3% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 24.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 4.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 34.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -28.6% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

milk, dates, poultry, fruit, watermelons, barley, wheat, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes

Industries

crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction

Industrial production growth rate

13.12% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 11

Labor force

16.617 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 38

Unemployment rate

5.59% (2022 est.)
6.62% (2021 est.)
7.45% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 112

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 28.8% (2021 est.)

male: 22.4%

female: 47.9%

comparison ranking: total 44

Average household expenditures

on food: 20.6% of household expenditures (2018 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 0.6% of household expenditures (2018 est.)

Remittances

0.03% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.03% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.04% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $247.093 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $282.4 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-8.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 204

Public debt

17.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 193

Taxes and other revenues

8.24% (of GDP) (2020 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 197

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$153.486 billion (2022 est.)
$44.324 billion (2021 est.)
-$22.814 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 5

Exports

$445.882 billion (2022 est.)
$286.502 billion (2021 est.)
$182.848 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 21

Exports - partners

China 19%, India 10%, Japan 9%, South Korea 8%, United Arab Emirates 5% (2021)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, refined petroleum, polymers, industrial alcohols, natural gas (2021)

Imports

$258.213 billion (2022 est.)
$213.016 billion (2021 est.)
$182.184 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 31

Imports - partners

China 19%, United Arab Emirates 15%, United States 8%, India 6%, Germany 4% (2021)

Imports - commodities

cars, refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, gold, packaged medicines (2021)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$478.232 billion (2022 est.)
$473.89 billion (2021 est.)
$472.851 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 6

Debt - external

$205.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$189.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 38

Exchange rates

Saudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
3.75 (2022 est.)
3.75 (2021 est.)
3.75 (2020 est.)
3.75 (2019 est.)
3.75 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 76.785 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 331,381,500,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 31.055 billion kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: imports 193; exports 190; installed generating capacity 18; transmission/distribution losses 201; consumption 11

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 99.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 73,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 73,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 10,815,700 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 3,182,300 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 7,340,800 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 258.6 billion barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

2.476 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 8

Refined petroleum products - exports

1.784 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 5

Refined petroleum products - imports

609,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 13

Natural gas

production: 113,776,648,000 cubic meters (2020 est.)

consumption: 113,776,648,000 cubic meters (2020 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 9,422,812,000,000 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

579.925 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 300,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 358.414 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 221.211 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 10

Energy consumption per capita

296.949 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 12

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 6,773,272 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 19 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 23

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 48,197,996 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 132 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 34

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Saudi Arabia’s telecom and ICT sectors continue to benefit from the range of programs aimed at diversifying the economy away from a dependence on oil, and establishing a wider digital transformation over the next decade; an essential element of this has been the widening reach of 5G networks, which by mid-2021 reached about half of the population and the majority of cities; the MNOs have focused investment on upgrading LTE infrastructure and further developing 5G; this in part is aimed at generating additional revenue from mobile data services, and also to their contribution to the Vision 2030 program; the ongoing pandemic has resulted in more people working and schooling from home during periods of restricted travel; this has stimulated growth in mobile data traffic, while the government has encouraged non-cash transactions and so helped develop the vast e-commerce market; while Saudi Arabia’s fixed broadband penetration remains relatively low, there has been a concentration of fiber infrastructure and the Kingdom has developed one of the fastest services in the region (2022)

domestic: fixed-line are 18 per 100 and mobile-cellular subscribership is 126 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 966; landing points for the SeaMeWe-3, -4, -5, AAE-1, EIG, FALCON, FEA, IMEWE, MENA/Gulf Bridge International, SEACOM, SAS-1, -2, GBICS/MENA, and the Tata TGN-Gulf submarine cables providing connectivity to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia; microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region) (2019)

Broadcast media

broadcast media are state-controlled; state-run TV operates 4 networks; Saudi Arabia is a major market for pan-Arab satellite TV broadcasters; state-run radio operates several networks; multiple international broadcasters are available

Internet users

total: 36 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 100% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 27

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 7,890,261 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 23 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 26

Communications - note

the innovative King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (informally known as Ithra, meaning "enrichment") opened on 1 December 2017 in Dhahran, Eastern Region; its facilities include a grand library, several museums, an archive, an Idea Lab, a theater, a cinema, and an Energy Exhibit, all which are meant to provide visitors an immersive and transformative experience

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 12 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 230

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 39,141,660 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,085,470,000 (2018) mt-km

Airports

86 (2024)

comparison ranking: 59

Heliports

67 (2024)

Pipelines

209 km condensate, 2,940 km gas, 1,183 km liquid petroleum gas, 5,117 km oil, 1,151 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 5,410 km (2016)

standard gauge: 5,410 km (2016) 1.435-m gauge (with branch lines and sidings)

comparison ranking: total 35

Roadways

total: 221,372 km

paved: 47,529 km (includes 3,891 km of expressways)

unpaved: 173,843 km (2006)

comparison ranking: total 22

Merchant marine

total: 433 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 9, container ship 1, general cargo 20, oil tanker 55, other 348

comparison ranking: total 46

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Jeddah, King Abdulla, Yanbu'

container port(s) (TEUs): Ad Dammam (1,770,000), Jeddah (4,882,342), King Abdulla (2,813,920) (2021)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces (SAAF) include forces from two ministries:

Ministry of Defense: Royal Saudi Land Forces, Royal Saudi Naval Forces (includes marines, special forces, naval aviation), Royal Saudi Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces, Royal Saudi Strategic Missiles Force; Ministry of the National Guard: Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG)

Ministry of Interior: police, Border Guard, Facilities Security Force

State Security Presidency (SSP): General Directorate of Investigation (Mabahith), Special Security Forces, Special Emergency Forces (2024)

note 1: the SANG (also known as the White Army) is a land force comprised off tribal elements loyal to the House of Saud; it is responsible for internal security, protecting the royal family, and external defense

note 2: the SAAF includes the Saudi Royal Guard Command, a unit which provides security and protection to the ruling family and other dignitaries

Military expenditures

6% of GDP (2022 est.)
6% of GDP (2021 est.)
8% of GDP (2020 est.)
8.8% of GDP (2019 est.)
10% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 4

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Saudi Armed Forces have about 250,000 total active troops; approximately 125,000 under the Ministry of Defense (75,000 Land Forces; 15,000 Naval Forces, including about 3,000 marines; 35,000 Air Force/Air Defense/Strategic Missile Forces) and up to 125,000 in the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) (2023)

note: SANG also has an irregular force (Fowj), primarily Bedouin tribal volunteers, with a total strength of approximately 25,000

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the inventory of the Saudi military forces, including the SANG, includes a mix of mostly modern weapons systems from the US and Europe; in recent years, the US has been the leading supplier of armaments; other major suppliers include France and the UK; Saudi Arabia is one of the world's largest importers of arms (2023)

note: the Saudi Navy is in the midst of a multi-year and multi-billion-dollar expansion and modernization program to purchase new frigates, corvettes, and other naval craft from such suppliers as Spain and the US

Military service age and obligation

men (17-40) and women (21-40) may volunteer for military service; no conscription (2023)

note 1: in 2021, women were allowed to serve in the Army, Air Defense, Navy, Strategic Missile Force, medical services, and internal security forces up to the rank of non-commissioned officer

note 2: the National Guard is restricted to citizens, but the regular Saudi military has hired foreigners on contract for operations associated with its intervention in Yemen

Military deployments

continues to maintain a military presence in Yemen; has also established and supports several local militias, including the National Shield Forces in Aden and the Amajid Brigade in Abyan (2023)

Military - note

the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces (SAAF) are divided into the regular forces under the Ministry of Defense and the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG); the regular forces are responsible for territorial defense, although they can be called for domestic security duties if needed; they include land, naval, air, air defense, and strategic missile forces; the Land Forces have approximately 15 combat brigades which include a mix of armored, aviation, light infantry, mechanized or motorized infantry, royal guards, and airborne/special forces, plus separate battalions of artillery; the Naval Forces are undergoing a major acquisitions and modernization program; its principal warships are approximately 16 frigates and corvettes, with an additional four frigates on order; the Air Force is the largest and one of the most modern in the region, with over 350 combat aircraft from Europe and the US with more on order; the Strategic Missile Force manages Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile inventory, largely acquired from China

the SANG is responsible for both internal security and external defense; its duties include protecting the royal family, guarding against military coups, defending strategic facilities and resources, and providing security for the cities of Mecca and Medina; the SANG is primarily comprised of tribal elements loyal to the Saud family and is comprised of brigades of light infantry, mechanized or motorized infantry, and security forces; it is supplemented by combat helicopter units and tribal levies/militias known as Fowj

the US is Saudi Arabia’s closest security partner; the SAAF conducts bilateral exercises with the US military and hosts US forces; the US has participated in a cooperative program to equip and train the SANG since 1973; much of the equipment for both the regular forces and the SANG has been acquired from the US; Saudi Arabia also has defense relationships with China, France, India, the UK, and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members

in 2015, Saudi Arabia led a military intervention into Yemen by a coalition of Arab states in support of the Republic of Yemen Government against the separatist Houthis; Saudi forces from both the Ministry of Defense and the SANG participated in combat operations in Yemen; Saudi Arabia also raised and equipped paramilitary/militia security forces in Yemen--based largely on tribal or regional affiliation--to deploy along the Saudi-Yemen border (2023)

Space

Space agency/agencies

Saudi Space Commission (SSC; established 2018); King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST; established 1977); KACST includes the Space and Aeronautics Research Institute (SARI; established 2000) (2023)

Space program overview

has one of the more advanced space programs in the region; manufactures and operates communications, remote sensing (RS), and scientific satellites; develops a range of satellite subsystems and payload technologies; SSC’s missions also include accelerating economic diversification, enhancing research and development, and raising private sector participation in the global space industry; is the main founder and financier of the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat; launched in 1976; headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the primary satellite communications service provider for over 170 million persons in the Arab world); cooperates with the space agencies and industries of a wide range of countries, including those of Belarus, China, the European Space Agency and its member states (particularly France, Germany, Greece, and Hungary), India, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, and the US; member of the Arab Space Cooperation Group (established by the UAE in 2019 and includes Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, and Sudan) (2023)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Terrorist group(s): Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS); al-Qa’ida; al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Saudi Arabia-Bahrain: none identified

Saudi Arabia-Iraq:  Saudi Arabia has been building a fence along its border with Iraq to keep out militants and smugglers

Saudi Arabia-Jordan: Jordan and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to demarcate their maritime borders in 2007

Saudi Arabia-Kuwait: Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue discussions on a maritime boundary with Iran; in December 2019, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signed an agreement to demarcate land in a neutral zone and to restart oil production in shared fields, which had been suspended since 2014 because of disagreements

Saudi Arabia-Oman: none identified

Saudi Arabia-Qatar: none identified

Saudi Arabia-UAE: Saudi Arabia and UAE have disputed the Shaybah oilfield, which Saudi Arabia controls

Saudi Arabia-Yemen: the two countries signed the Treaty of Jeddah in 2000, which specified the coordinates of their land and maritime border and made provisions for grazing, the placement of armed forces, and future resource exploitation; in 2010, Saudi Arabia reinforced its concrete-filled security barrier along sections of the now fully demarcated border with Yemen to stem illegal crossborder activities

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 70,000 (2022); note - thousands of biduns (stateless Arabs) are descendants of nomadic tribes who were not officially registered when national borders were established, while others migrated to Saudi Arabia in search of jobs; some have temporary identification cards that must be renewed every five years, but their rights remain restricted; most Palestinians have only legal resident status; some naturalized Yemenis were made stateless after being stripped of their passports when Yemen backed Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait in 1990; Saudi women cannot pass their citizenship on to their children, so if they marry a non-national, their children risk statelessness

Illicit drugs

regularly sentences drug traffickers to the death penalty, although a moratorium on executions for drug offences has been in place since at least 2020; improving anti-money-laundering legislation and enforcement