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A WELCOME FROM H.E. MR. FAHAD ALRUWAILY, THE SAUDI ARABIAN AMBASSADOR IN DENMARK It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all and I hope you will enjoy reading this special edition issued on the occasion of the 88th Saudi National Day, which takes place on September 23. The year 2018 was of special importance to Saudi Arabia and to its citizens. Last April, Saudis celebrated the second year of the new strategy for the future of their country entitled ‘Saudi Vision’, a comprehensive roadmap for the economic and social development of Saudi Arabia that will promote its plans to cope with the new international environment, shift its economy from dependence on oil to a more diversified knowledge-based economy and develop its human resources and services to become the engine for future sustainable growth. Many significant things have happened since the Vision was launched in April 2016 at both the local and international level. On the national level, giant investment projects have been inaugurated in a number of fields: education, woman’s empowerment, industry, transport, infrastructure, tourism, and entertainment. The government has also launched a strict anti-corruption campaign which has paid very positive dividends towards transparency, integrity in the public sector and the economic outlook in general. As well as these steps taken on a national level, Prince Mohammed has paid official visits to many countries all over the world, signing co-operation agreements and declaring a new era of governmental co-operation and peoples’ solidarity and understanding. A MODERN, WELL-DEVELOPED SOCIETY Saudi society today is a modern and well-developed one which according to the last UN Human Development Index in the first rank when it comes to a very high level of human development (No. 38 amongst the world’s nations). In the early 1960s, (only 50 years ago) life expectancy at birth in Saudi Arabia was only 47 years; today it is 75 and the figure is increasing annually by almost 0.21 percent. With regard to education, today there are 39 universities in Saudi Arabia, with a total number of 326,000 students (51.8 percent of them girls). In addition, there are hundreds of professional and technical colleges and schools. Regarding governmental scholarships, per capita Saudi Arabia is number one when it comes to having students abroad. Some 115,000 Saudi boys and girls are studying now abroad, 90 percent of them are with government scholarships. STRONG INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE On an international level, Saudi Arabia has always been a responsible member of international society, taking into consideration its strategic location in the

Middle East between the three old continents and its role in the Islamic world – as well as its economic weight on the international arena as one of the G 20 and a main producer of oil. Saudi Arabia is also a member of all the international organisations that work for promoting world peace, security and prosperity. On the economic side it is also highly rated by international organisations as one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to donating aid and supporting other nations and peoples in need. On the other hand, today Saudi Arabia has a strong international presence and participates actively in the global efforts to fight terrorism and extremism and to promote values of tolerance, respect and co-operation. CORDIAL RELATIONS WITH DENMARK Saudi relations with Denmark are an example of this kind of international co-operation. Despite the geographical distance between the Arabian Peninsula and Scandinavia, the two countries managed decades ago to develop friendly and strong relations at both governmental and non-governmental levels, which are still advancing on various horizons. The Saudi embassy here in Copenhagen and the Danish embassy in Riyadh have been around since the early 1970s. Two years ago we received HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in Riyadh on an official visit. A big delegation of officials and businessmen accompanied them and several significant agreements were signed, including an MoU on the creation of a mechanism for bilateral political consultations and another one on the foundation of the Saudi Danish Business Council, represented by Saudi Council of Chambers and Confederation of Danish Industry. Several visits have taken place recently between Saudi Arabia and Denmark. The co-operation of these two friendly countries is growing apace at all levels, with much promising potential for the future. H.E. Mr. Fahad Alruwaily Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Denmark

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H I S T O R Y & C U LT U R E




Saudi Arabia can trace its roots back thousands of years and is now a sophisticated modern state and major international player

Archaeologists have found evidence of human presence in the Arabian Peninsula dating back 20,000 years to when bands of hunter-gatherers roamed the land. However, then as now, climate change played a decisive role. Some 15,000 years ago the peninsula became dry and plains once covered with grasslands became scrubland and deserts, and wild animals vanished. River systems also disappeared, leaving in their wake the Wadis – dry river beds – found in the peninsula today. The people there were forced to move towards the mountain valleys and oases and develop another means of survival. As a result, agriculture evolved – first in Mesopotamia then in the Nile River Valley, eventually spreading across the Middle East. Located between the two great centres of civilization, the Nile River Valley and Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula was the crossroads of the ancient world. Trade was crucial to the area’s development. Sought-after items included almonds from Taif, dates from the many oases, and aromatics such as frankincense and myrrh from the Red Sea coastal plain of Tihama. Spices were also important trade items. They were shipped across the Arabian Sea from India and then transported by caravan. The caravans travelled from what is now Oman and Yemen, along the great trade routes running through Saudi Arabia’s Asir Province and then through Makkah and Madinah, eventually arriving at the urban centres of the north and west.

Photo: UNESCO World Heritage

ALDIRIYAH First capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

THE BIRTH OF ISLAM Around the year 610 an event of monumental significance for the future of Arabian Penunsula and the whole world occurred. Prophet Muhammed (a native of Makkah born 570) declared his prophecy as a messenger of Allah (God) and started preaching the instructions of Islam. In 622 and Prophet Muhammed led his family and followers to the town of Yathrib, later named Madinat Al-Nabi (the Prophet’s City) and now known as Madinah, 400 km northeast of Makkah, where he and his company were warmly received, and started the foundation of the first state of Isalm. This was the Hijrah, or migration, which marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Over the next few years the Prophet was able to subdue the pagans of Makkah, and in 628 lead his followers into Makkah without fighting, having succeeded in unifying the tribes under the flag of Islam. THE ISLAMIC EMPIRE The Islamic Empire grew rapidly and in less than 100 years after the birth of Islam extended from Spain to parts of India and China. Muslim preachers, researchers and explorers travelled around the world, and at the same time growing numbers of pilgrims began regularly visiting the Peninsula for Hajj, with some settling in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. These mass movements facilitated the exchange of ideas and cultures between the people of the Peninsula and other civilizations of the Arab and Muslim worlds. During what is known as the Golden Age, the Muslim world became a centre for learning and scientific advancement. Muslim scholars made major contributions in many fields, including medicine, biology, philosophy, astronomy, arts and literature. Many of their ideas and methods became the foundation of modern sciences. The Islamic Empire thrived well into the 17th century, when it broke up into smaller Muslim kingdoms. The Arabian Peninsula gradually entered a period of relative isolation, although Makkah and Madinah remained the spiritual heart of the Islamic world and continued to attract pilgrims from many countries. THE FIRST SAUDI STATE: BACK TO THE ROOTS In the early 18th century, a Muslim scholar and reformer named Shaikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab began advocating a return to the original form of Islam. Abdul Wahhab was initially persecuted by local religious scholars and leaders who viewed his teachings as a threat to their power bases. He sought protection in the town of Diriyah, which was ruled by Muhammad bin Saud.

The two men dedicated themselves to the task of restoring the pure teachings of Islam to the Muslim community. In that spirit, bin Saud established the First Saudi State, which prospered under the spiritual guidance of bin Abdul Wahhab, known simply as the Shaikh. By 1788, the Saudi State ruled over the entire central plateau known as the Najd and by the early 19th century its rule extended to most of the Arabian Peninsula, including Makkah and Madinah. Growing suspicious of the new state’s success, the Ottoman Empire dispatched a large expeditionary force armed with modern artillery to the western region of Arabia. Diriyah, then one of the largest cities in the peninsula, was besieged and Ottoman forces razed the city and made it permanently uninhabitable. THE SECOND SAUDI STATE: CONTINUING REFORM By 1824, the Al-Saud family had regained political control of central Arabia. The Saudi ruler Turki bin Abdullah Al-Saud moved his capital to Riyadh and founded the Second Saudi State. During his 11-year rule, Turki succeeded in retaking most of the lands lost to the Ottomans. As he expanded his rule he took steps to ensure that his people enjoyed rights and saw to their well-being. Under Turki and his son, Faisal, the Second Saudi State enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity, and trade and agriculture flourished. The Ottomans made another attempt to their empire into the Arabian Peninsula. Parts of the Saudi State were captured and with the support of the Ottomans, the Al-Rashid family of Hail made a concerted effort to overthrow the Saudi State. In 1891, faced with a much larger and better equipped army, Abdulrahman bin Faisal Al-Saud was forced to abandon his struggle. He sought refuge with the Bedouin tribes in the vast sand desert of eastern Arabia. From there, Abdulrahman and his family travelled to Kuwait, where they stayed until 1902. With him was his young son Abdulaziz. THE THIRD SAUDI STATE: THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA Abdulaziz was determined to regain his patrimony from the Al-Rashid family, which had taken over Riyadh and established a governor and garrison there. In 1902, Abdulaziz, – accompanied by only 40 followers – staged a daring and successful night march into Riyadh to retake the Masmak Fortress. After establishing Riyadh as his headquarters, from 19241925 Abdulaziz captured all of the Hijaz, including Makkah and Madinah and in the process, united the warring tribes into one nation. On 23 September 1932, the country was named the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an Islamic state with Arabic as its national language and the Holy Qur’an as its constitution.




H I S T O R Y & C U LT U R E

A MODERNISING VISIONARY Abdulaziz was a remarkable leader of great imagination and vision who set Saudi Arabia on the road to modernisation. It was during his rule that the country’s infrastructure began to be established as he established roads and basic communications systems, introduced modern technology, and improved education, health care and agriculture. King Abdulaziz was a highly sophisticated statesman who made a deep impression on foreign leaders and diplomats, who were impressed by his integrity and honesty. He was famous for dispensing with diplomatic niceties in favour of frank and candid discussion as well as being well known for keeping his promises. All these qualities enhanced his stature as a reliable and responsible leader dedicated to peace and justice. CONTINUING THE LEGACY When Abdulazis died in 1953, he was succeeded by his son Saud, who continued his father’s legacy. King Saud created the Council of Ministers and established the ministries of health, education and commerce. Under his rule many schools were established, including the first institute of higher education, King Saud University, in 1957. King Saud was also the first Saudi monarch to visit the United States. In 1962 he sponsored an international Islamic conference that would become the Muslim World League, headquartered in Makkah. Upon Saud’s death, Faisal bin Abdulaziz took over the reins of power in the Kingdom. Under his jurisdiction, the first of a series of economic and social development plans that would transform Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure, especially industry, were set in motion. He also set the Kingdom on a path of rapid growth and established the first public schools for girls. Throughout the turbulent period of the 1960s and 1970s, which included two Arab-Israeli wars and the oil crisis of 1973, King Faisal was a voice for moderation, peace and stability.

OASIS Eastern Saudi Arabia


HOLY MOSQUE OF MAKKAH Saudi Arabia receives more than 9 million visitors annually who come for Hajj and Omrah in the holy city of Makkah

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH In 1975, Khalid bin Abdulaziz succeeded King Faisal. His reign was marked by an almost explosive growth in the country’s physical infrastructure. It was a period of enormous wealth and prosperity for Saudi Arabia. On the international stage King Khalid was a prime mover in forming the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) in 1981, an organization that promotes economic and security co-operation among its six member countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. CUSTODIAN OF THE TWO HOLY MOSQUES King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, who ruled from 1982-2005, adopted the title Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. He was central to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economy and promote private enterprise and investment. He restructured the Saudi government and approved the first nationwide municipal elections, which took place in 2005.

Photo: media.gov.sa

One of King Fahd’s greatest accomplishments was to expand the Kingdom’s facilities to accommodate the millions of pilgrims who come to the country each

year. This involved major expansions of Islam’s two holiest sites, the Holy Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as well as airports and ports. In the international arena, King Fahd worked actively to resolve regional and global crises. In 1981, while still Crown Prince, he proposed an eight-point plan to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and give the Palestinians an independent state. It was unanimously adopted by the Arab League at a summit in Fez, Morocco in 1982. Perhaps the greatest international crisis of King Fahd’s reign occurred when Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. The King played a key role in putting together the international coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. As well as his political activities, King Fahd also concerned himself with humanitarian issues. During his reign, Saudi Arabia provided emergency humanitarian assistance to numerous countries, including Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, as well as countries suffering from natural disasters, such as earthquakes (Turkey in 1999, Iran in 2003) and the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in December 2004.




H I S T O R Y & C U LT U R E

One of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s ambitious ideas was realised under the Saudi Vision 2030 project, which structured a complete plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from dependence on oil ... RESPECTING ARAB HERITAGE With the death of his father, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz became the new king on 1 August 2005. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz developed a profound respect for religion, history and his Arab heritage. Years spent living in the desert with Bedouin tribes taught him their values of honour, simplicity, generosity and bravery, and instilled in him the desire to assist in the development of his people. Peace in the Middle East and the plight of the Palestinians were of particular concern to King Abdullah. His proposal for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, presented at the Beirut Arab Summit in 2002, was adopted by the League of Arab States and is known as the Arab Peace Initiative. King Abdullah was also unwavering in his condemnation of terrorism. At the International Counterterrorism Conference in Riyadh in February 2005 he called for greater international co-operation to fight this global problem. KING SALMAN: REFORM AND HUMANITARIAN WORK HM King Salman bin Abdulaziz acceded the throne on 23 January 2015. Prior to that, he was the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. As well as his ministerial posts, since 1956 he had been a culture lover and chaired various humanitarian and service committees aimed

at providing relief from natural and man-made disasters. In recognition of his humanitarian services he has been awarded many medals and decorations, including awards from Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Morocco, Palestine, the Philippines, Senegal, the United Nations, Yemen, and the King Abdulaziz Medal – First Class. He is also a recipient of several honorary degrees and academic awards, including an honorary doctorate from the Islamic University of Madinah, the Prince Salman academic award, and the Kant Medal from the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in appreciation of his contributions to the field of science. THE NEXT GENERATION The latest and most prominent entrant on the stage of this rich pageant of Saudi history is His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, who became Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence on 21 June 2017. He quickly became well-known and popular, not only in the region but worldwide, for his vigorous social and economic reformist approach. One of his ambitious ideas was realised under the Saudi Vision 2013 project, which structured a complete plan to diversify the Saudi economy away from dependence on oil and to develop human resources and public sector services, as shown in the article on Vision 2013 in this publication.


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A TOURIST VIEW OF SAUDI ARABIA One of the areas covered in Vision 2030 is the development of tourism to make it one of the main sustainable pillars of Saudi economic growth. Size-wise, Saudi Arabia has an area of 2,150,000 square kilometres – that is around 50 times larger than Denmark. The country is rich in diversity and has a number of cultural and archaeological sites in addition to the all-important religious ones.

Mountainous farms at Asir, in the south of Saudi Arabia Photo: media.gov.sa 10

Almasmak Palace, Riyadh (Built 1895) Photo: Saudi Ministry of Information THE FUTURISTIC CITY OF NEOM In October 2017 Crown Prince HRH Mohammad bin Salman and the government announced a decision to launch a giant project – a transnational city and economic zone of 30,000 sq km on the shores of the Red Sea near the city of Tabuk close the Saudi Egyptian borders at a total cost of USD 500 billion. A part of the city has been already built and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, spent his summer holidays this year in one of its new resorts. WORLD HERITAGE SITES As well as the new city, Saudi Arabia has a rich archaeological heritage and one of the leading archaeological locations is Mada’in Saleh, a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector in the northwest of Saudi Arabia. Most of the ruins date from the Nabatean kingdom (1st century BC). Traces of Lihyanite and Roman occupation before and after the Nabatean rule can also be found, while accounts from the Qur’an tell of an earlier settlement of the area by the tribe of Thamud in the 3rd millennium BC. The site encompasses a collection of 111 spectacular tombs carved into rocky outcrops. Diriyah is a town located on the north western outskirts of Riyadh. Diriyah and was the historic capital of the First Saudi State for the period from 1744 to 1818. Tureif district in the town was approved by UNESCO in 2009. Saudi Arabia’s largest tourist magnet is the city of Jeddah, a cosmopolitan port on the Red Sea with a rich history and ancient ruins from Islamic and Pre-Islamic times. It was also listed by

Mada’in Saleh, Alula, North of Saudi Arabia, 1st Century BC, UNESCO World Heritage Photo: Saudi Ministry of Information

The country also has its share of natural beauty, with mountains raising to 3,000 m affording spectacular highland scenery. UNESCO as World Heritage Site, followed shortly afterwards in 2015 by rock art near the northern city of Hail. In the Eastern Provence, another site was approved by UNESCO this year as a World Heritage Site – Alhasa Oasis. This is a large historic oasis that is considered to be the largest in the world, with more than 3 million palm trees. FURTHER TOURIST POTENTIAL Archaeological surveys have also identified other areas with future tourist potential. Al-Ula old town is a mysterious beautifully preserved ancient town with a lot of history and charm. CEO of the Royal Commission for

Al-Ula (RCU), which was established last July to drive the development of the touristic site, hopes the region will welcome its first visitors in four years and that once the project is complete, up to 1.5 million tourists will visit it annually. The country also has its share of natural beauty, with mountains rising to 3,000 m affording spectacular highland scenery. The Saudi Arabian climate is also extremely beneficial to tourism, with nice weather all the year round.

SOURCE : cnn.it/2MaWlMa





SAUDI POLITICAL SYSTEM: A According to the Basic System of Government, the King ensures the application of Shari’ah and the laws, and the state’s general policy. He also supervises the protection and defence of the nation. The Crown Prince is appointed by the King. The King is assisted in performing his duties by the Members of the Council of Ministers. Saudi Arabia as defined by the Basic System of Law and is an Arab and Islamic sovereign state; its religion is Islam and its constitution is the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah. The System emphasises the equality of all Saudi citizens, and tasks the state of ensuring the security and rights of all citizens and residents. The system further explains that the purpose of the state is to ensure the security and rights of all citizens and residents. It emphasises the importance of the family as the nucleus of Saudi society. The family plays a vital role by teaching its members to adhere to Islamic values. In defining the relationship between the ruler and the people, the system emphasises the equality of all Saudi citizens. All are equal before God and before the law, and in their concern for the well-being, security, dignity and progress of their nation. THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS The Council of Ministers, also known as the Cabinet, is the Executive branch of Saudi government. It was established the first time by King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud in 1953. The Council of Ministers was restructured by King Fahd in September 1993. The new Law of the Council of Ministers defines the Council as a “regulatory authority presided over by the King”. The Council advises the King and facilitates the country’s development. Every minister is responsible for the ministry and its good functioning. The first Council was composed in 1953 by King Saud, and was reorganised several times. The last time was by King Salman in 2015. The Cabinet is responsible for drafting and overseeing the implementation of the internal, external, financial, economic, educational and defence policies, and general affairs of the state. It meets weekly and is presided over each week by the King or his deputy. It consists of the Prime Minister (the King), the Deputy Prime Minister (the Crown Prince, who currently is also a Minister with portfolio), 21 other ministers with portfolio and seven ministers of state. The Cabinet has the final say on financial, executive and administrative matters. Its resolutions are non-binding unless agreed upon by a majority vote. In case of a tie, the prime minister casts the tie-breaking vote. It functions in accordance with the Basic System of Governance and is advised by the Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council).


MAJLIS AL-SHURA The Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, is a legislative body that advises the King on issues important to Saudi Arabia. It is a modern version of a traditional Islamic concept – an accessible leader consulting with learned and experienced citizens – which has always been practised by Saudi rulers. The Majlish plays a significant role in several political, economic and social issues. Its foreign affairs and friendship committees together with other countries have contributed on the foreign policy level to promote relations and co-operation between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world at public and parliamentary levels. The Consultative Council currently consists of 150 members appointed by the King for a four-year renewable term. 20 percent of them should be women. Based on their experience, members are assigned to committees. There are 12 committees, one for each of the following areas: human rights, education, culture, information, health and social affairs, services and public utilities, foreign affairs, security, administration, Islamic affairs, economy and industry, and finance. The King makes a speech before the Majlis on the inauguration of its annual session. He outlines the government’s policies and plans on both domestic and international levels. Originally restricted to discussion of regulations and issues of national and public interest, the mandate of Majlis Al-Shura was broadened in 2004 to include proposing new legislation and amending existing laws without prior submission to the King. It has always been able to request that government officials participate in key meetings and apply for access to government documents. On 7 April 2003 the Majlis Al-Shura was given full membership of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.


M: AN OVERVIEW PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 provinces, each with a governor, deputy governor, and provincial council. The provincial council system is the result of by-laws established by King Fahd in 1992. These by-laws divided the country into 13 provinces and defined their administrative structure, how they would be administered, and the responsibilities of the governors and other regional officers. In 1993, King Fahd 210 members to the provincial councils. The councils deliberate on the needs of their province, work on the development budget, consider future development plans, and monitor ongoing projects. The governor and deputy governor of each province serve as chairman and vice-chairman of their respective provincial council.

KING SALMAN BIN ABDULAZIZ Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King of Saudi Arabia since 23-January, 2015 Photo: fortune.com

Each council consists of at least ten private citizens. As with the Majlis Al-Shura, members of the council participate in committees that focus on various issues of interest to the province. The councils issue reports that are submitted to the Minister of the Interior, and then passed on to the appropriate government ministries and agencies for consideration. In 2005, municipal elections were held for half of the members of each of the 178 municipal councils in the Kingdom. The remaining half of the council members and the mayor are appointed. From 2012 woman were able to participate in the elections – both to vote and to stand for election. In the last municipal elections held in December 2015, 18 women won seats in different Saudi provinces.





Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, Female Traditional Interior Wall Decoration in Asir, Saudi Arabia Inscribed by UNESCO in 2017 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a traditionally female interior wall decoration, is an ancient art form considered a key element of the identity of the region of Asir. It is a spontaneous art technique carried out largely by women today in the community that involves decorating the interior walls of their houses, specifically rooms for visiting guests. Women invite female relatives of various age groups to help them in their homes, thereby transmitting this knowledge from generation to generation. The base is usually white gypsum and the patterns consist of icons of geometric shapes and symbols. In the past, only women practised this art form. The art enhances social bonding and solidarity among the community and has a therapeutic effect on its practitioners.

(source: www.unesco.org)




A RECORD-BREAKING SAUDI OLIVE FARM On May 1 this year, an olive farm in Saudi Arabia received recognition from no less an authority than Guinness World Records.

Sometimes, size really does count

A HIGH QUALITY PRODUCT The farm comprises 7,730 hectares planted with 5 million trees. Al-Hussein pointed out that the company is working hard to develop plans that comply with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Not only is the farm very large, but it produces olives of a very high quality. The company has received eight quality certificates so far, not to mention the quality checks done by the Guinness records’ delegation before awarding them with the certificate.

The Al-Jouf Olive Farm, situated near the Jordanian border, was recognised as being the world’s largest modern olive farm.

Saudi Arabia consumes more than 30,000 tons of olive oil per year and around 15,000 tons comes from the Al-Jouf Company.

At a ceremony in Riyadh, the managing director Abdulaziz Al-Hussein was presented with the certificate of merit.

Al-Hussein also pointed out that the company has the largest plant producing olive oil in the Middle East and over the next two years intends to establish a plant to produce pickled olives and olive-oil derived bodycare products.





SAUDI ARABIA - AN ECO It may be a surprise to learn that the Saudi economy is driven by much more than just oil AUTHOR: ROBERT EYFJORD According to projections from the World Bank, in 2018 the Saudi Arabian economy is expected to expand by 1.8 percent in GDP. This is largely due to an upsurge in oil production levels and a slight growth in public spending. In 2016, the GDP was 645 billion dollars. It rose to 684 billion dollars last year. It would not be an understatement to say that most of the Kingdom’s revenues derive from oil, gas and petrochemicals. The Saudi Arabian Oil Company – better known as Aramco – is one of the largest, most valuable companies in the world. It operates on both the world’s largest onshore and offshore oil fields. Bloomberg News have called Aramco the most profitable company in the world. DOMINANCE IN CONSTRUCTION Saudi Arabia dominates the construction market in the Middle East. It is also considered one of the fastest growing construction markets in the world. Major cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah are ever-changing, consistently building skyscrapers and improving their infrastructure. Not only are these skyscrapers illuminated by city lights, but they also house some of the country’s most advanced technology and security firms.


It was determined that the IT market was valued at just under 5 billion dollars in 2014. The government plans for this particular industry to increase its contribution to the GDP by 20 percent in 2020. Through MODON, the governmental organisation overseeing the development of industrial land in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia has been urging the private sector to become more involved, predominantly through investments. Industrial products make up more than 90 percent of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports. These exports – which range from electrical appliances to construction materials – are sent to more than 90 different countries. Saudi Arabia operates the largest stock exchange in the entire Gulf region. The Saudi Stock Exchange – known locally as Tadawul – lists more than 170 publicly traded companies. The stock exchange has also garnered significant foreign interest since its founding in 2007. MAJOR CITY PROJECTS There are currently four major economic and entertainment cities under construction in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government expects these cities will stimulate economic diversification and form appealing investment platforms for foreign companies. One of them is the giant economic and science city of NEOM in the northern side of Saudi Arabia which has been nicknamed by some the ‘Silicon Valley of the Middle East”, with an estimated cost of USD 500 billion. Another one is the massive Qiddiya Entertainment City near Riyadh, which is expected to create 57,000 new jobs and bring SAR 17 billion per year to the Saudi economy when opened – an initiative of the Vision 2030 plan.

ECONOMY ON THE MOVE Billions of dollars have been invested into the initiative, which – per estimates – will create over a million new job opportunities, homes for 4-5 million people and boost GDP by 150 billion dollars. So the future looks bright for the Saudi economy – and with the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 plan, things can only get even better.

TOP IMAGE King Salman and the Crown Prince inaugurating Qiddiya Entertainment Project near Riyadh Photo: Saudi Ministry of Information BOTTOM IMAGE MISK Foundation Forum, Jeddah





MODERN AND FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL PREPARES SAUDIS FOR THE FUTURE When the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932, only the children of the urban rich were educated. Education was mostly traditional in Islamic classes and mosques What a difference 80 or so years makes. One of the areas in Saudi society that has undergone the greatest change is the area of education. Back in 1932 when the Kingdom was founded, education was very basic and available to a small part of the population who lived in big cities.

After elementary and intermediate school, students can choose whether to attend a high school with programs in commerce, the arts and sciences, or a vocational school. In high school, students take comprehensive exams twice a year under the supervision of the Ministry of Education.

Nowadays, the Saudi Arabian educational system includes over 50 public and private universities, some 30,000 schools, colleges and other institutions.

The educational curricula at Saudi schools are diverse and include a variety of subjects such as mathematics science, literature, history, Arabic and Islam. The Ministry of Education sets overall standards and oversees special education for the handicapped.

Today’s educational system is open to all citizens and residents, and provides students with free education, books and health care services. RAPID PROGRESS Formal primary education began in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. By 1945, King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al-Saud, the country’s founder, had begun an extensive program to establish schools in the Kingdom. By 1951, the country had 226 schools with 29,887 students. The first university, now known as King Saud University, was founded in Riyadh in 1957. In 1954, the Ministry of Education was established, followed by the Ministry of Higher Education in 1975. The first government school for girls was built in 1964, and by the end of the 1990s girls’ schools had been established in every part of the Kingdom. Today, female students make up over half of the more than 6 million students currently enrolled in Saudi schools and universities. THE STRUCTURE OF THE SYSTEM The Saudi educational system aims to ensure that students are prepared for life and work in the modern world, while meeting the country’s religious, social and economic needs. Eliminating adult illiteracy is another major goal. General education consists of kindergarten, six years of primary school and three years each of intermediate and high school.


A DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT The government continues to improve educational standards by offering quality training programs for teachers, improving standards for student evaluation, and increasing the use of educational technology. For example, in 2000 computer science was introduced at the secondary level. The administration of the educational system has also been improved by giving provincial school boards greater decision-making authority. These efforts are paying off. Not only has the number of Saudi schools increased dramatically, but so has the quality of education. The Kingdom’s student-to-teacher ratio of 12.5 to 1 is one of the lowest in the world. HIGHER EDUCATIONAL FOCUS The focus on higher education really took off as a response to the country entering a new era of rapid development in the early 1970s. In 1975, a separate Ministry of Higher Education was established. The Ministry launched a long-term plan to make sure that the Saudi educational system provided the highly skilled manpower the Kingdom needed to run its increasingly sophisticated economy.

One of the plan’s first objectives was to establish new institutions of higher education throughout the country and expand existing ones. By 2014, there were 25 major public universities, a large number of vocational institutes, and a growing number of private colleges. Another objective was to establish undergraduate and postgraduate programs in most disciplines at these universities and colleges. As a result, Saudi students can now get degrees in almost any field in the Kingdom, and only pursue specialised study abroad if necessary. Currently, about 1 million students are enrolled at Saudi universities and colleges, compared to 7,000 in 1970 – and over half are female. Women attend all major universities, as well as numerous all-female colleges and private women’s universities. Saudi students also have the opportunity to pursue specialised graduate and postgraduate degrees abroad supported by government scholarships. Thousands of Saudi students enrol in universities outside the Kingdom. A PROUD UNIVERSITY TRADITION The largest and oldest university in the country is King Saud University in Riyadh. When it first opened in 1957, nine instructors taught 21 students. Today about 70,000 students pursue degrees at the faculties of art, science, commerce, engineering, agriculture, medicine, dentistry, nursing, education, computer science and information science. The university offers also doctorate programs in many fields and is particularly well thought of for its engineering and medical schools.


The second largest university in the Kingdom is King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. It was founded as private university in 1967 by a group of Saudi businessmen who believed strongly in the importance of education for national development. The university grew so rapidly that in 1971, its founders petitioned the government to take over its operation. The Islamic University at Madinah, founded in 1961, is renowned as a centre for Islamic studies, with students from over 100 countries.

Imam Muhammad bin Saud University in Riyadh (founded in 1974) and Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah (1981) have highly regarded Islamic law, history and Arabic literature departments, in addition to several other majors in arts, sciences and medicine. Imam Muhammad bin Saud University offers programs in Islamic and Arabic studies at its branches in Japan, Indonesia, Mauritania, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates. The Eastern Province’s King Faisal University, founded in 1975, offers a range of programs, including medicine and

architecture, at its campus in Dammam. The Hofuf campus is especially respected for its outstanding agricultural and veterinary sciences programs, its experimental farms, and advanced research in agriculture and animal husbandry. Other universities in Saudi Arabia include the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, one of the oldest (1964) and considered on par with the best in the world in that field; and Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University (founded in 2007) the world’s largest university for women with an enrolment of over 52,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Graduation, KAUST University of Science 19 Jeddah and Technology, Photo: KAUST University 19




The Special Education Department of the ministry of Education operates schools for the blind, deaf and the physically and mentally disabled to encourage every individual to reach his or her full potential. SAUDI SCHOOLS AND SCHOLARSHIPS ABROAD The Kingdom has established a number of educational institutions throughout the world for Saudi students living abroad. The largest of these are located in the United States, Britain and Germany. These schools accommodate students from kindergarten through the 12th grade, and provide instruction in Islam, and the Arabic language as well as the arts and sciences.

ADULT EDUCATION Saudi Arabia does not see education as just the province of children and young people. A large number of adult education centres have been established in order to make education available to everyone and to eliminate illiteracy. The government conducts intensive three-month adult education courses during the summer for people living in isolated rural areas.

In an effort to maintain a consistent standard, directors of these overseas schools meet regularly to discuss curriculums and other shared issues.

And these efforts are clearly paying off: the literacy rate is now over 90 percent for men, and just over 70 percent for women. The figures for children under 15 are 89.2 percent for boys and 93.2 percent for girls.

The Special Education Department of the Ministry of Education operates schools for the blind, deaf and the physically and mentally disabled. These special schools are part of the Kingdom’s effort to encourage every individual to reach his or her full potential.

TECHNICAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE SCHOOLS There are numerous public and private training institutions that produce thousands of graduates in the technical and mechanical sciences, health care, agriculture, teaching and other areas every year.

The Saudi government launched a generous program of scholarships for Saudi boys and girls who wish to study abroad in the best university in Europe, America, Asia and Elswhere. More than 120,000 students study abroad in fields like medicine, engineering, computer science, law and other branches of knowledge.

These institutions include the Royal Technical Institute in Riyadh, the Hofuf Technical Training School, and centres in Jeddah, Madinah, Abha, Taif, Unayzah, Dammam and other cities. They train thousands of young Saudis in a variety of fields, including machine tooling, metalworking, electromechanics, auto mechanics, electronics and maintenance of industrial machinery.

Graduation, KAUST University of Science and Technology, Jeddah Photo: KAUST University 20



Saudi Aramco offshore platform Photo: Saudi Aramco

The new Vision 2030 plan calls for more energy diversity and a reduced dependency on oil Saudi Arabia possesses a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves, and is the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil. The Kingdom also uses desalination plants to generate electricity using the steam that is a by-product of the desalination process. The Kingdom generates more than 26,300 MW of electricity, 2,800 MW of which is produced by the desalination plants. The aim is to increase the electricity produced by these desalination plants so that it equals half of the total output. The Saudi Electric Company (SEC) manages existing power generation, distribution and delivery facilities, as well as investment in new general plants. Wholly owned by shareholders, the SEC also sets the price of electricity sold to consumers and industry under rules set by a governing body based on the cost of production, distribution and services.

GAS Saudi Arabia possesses vast reserves of natural gas – dissolved, associated and non-associated – which it uses as an environmentally friendly energy source for urban and industrial use. Major industrial facilities also use gas as feedstock to produce petrochemicals, fertilizers, steel and other products that in turn feed a thriving industrial sector. Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Company SABIC is one of the world’s biggest petrochemical producers and knowhow developers. REFINING Saudi Arabia has nine refining complexes that produce gasoline, fuel and diesel oil, liquefied petroleum gas, jet fuel, kerosene and other petroleum products for the domestic market and for export.





Solar Field in Al-Oyeynah Research Station, Saudi Arabia

Considered among the most technologically advanced in the world, these refineries have an output of eight million barrels per day of petroleum products, most for export. Saudi Arabia has entered downstream operations in other countries, including South Korea, the Philippines, Greece, India, and China. Motiva – a joint venture between Shell Oil Company and Saudi Refining Inc. – refines, distributes, and markets oil products in the United States. SOLAR AND ALTERNATIVE ENERGY Saudi Arabia is also looking at alternative renewable energy sources, including solar energy. The Kingdom receives some of the most intense sunlight in the world – 105 trillion kilowatt hours a day, which is roughly the equivalent of 10 billion barrels of crude oil in energy terms. Solar energy is also an appropriate energy source for use in remote locations. As an example, it is used to power emergency telephones and signs along vast stretches of desert roads. Other programs focus on utilising solar energy for water desalination, agriculture, and the generation of hydrogen. There is also great interest in other forms of alternative energy in Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah City for Renewable and Atomic Energy and Aramco are working together in this regard, with a lot of potential ahead. For example, wind energy has its own program and although it is


relatively new, it is making great progress. The first wind turbine was erected January 2017 by Saudi Aramco and GE in the northern city of Turaif with a generating capacity of 2.75 MW, enough to supply the electricity needs of 250 houses. The target set for the national renewable energy plan in Vision 2030 is 9.5 gigawatt (GW), to cover a part of the massive electricity distribution network that consists of 8,750 miles of transmission lines, 52,000

miles of distribution lines and over 53,000 miles of service connections. The Kingdom has also its own program to start building nuclear power plants to prepare for the post-oil era and help cover the fast growing demand for electricity that has been 9 percent annually since 2010, (compared to 1 percent in the EU and other developed countries).

Saudi Aramco erected the first wind turbine in Turaif, North of Saudi Arabia last year 2017


VISION 2030 - AN AMBITIOUS BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is moving forward rapidly and a visionary new plan has been launched that will completely transform the country

Saudi Vision 2030 is a full strategic plan formed by HRH the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the future of Saudi Arabia. Amongst its main goals are to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify the economy, and develop and reform public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism. The extensive roadmap, which was approved by cabinet in 2016, centres around specific objectives that are all to be achieved by the year of 2030.

The Crown Prince maintains that the Vision is “an ambitious yet achievable blueprint, which expresses our long-term goals and expectations, and reflects our country’s strengths and capabilities” THREE PILLARS The Vision is assembled on three pillars of Saudi Arabia being as “the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the investment powerhouse, and the hub connecting three continents.” The Vision aspires to transform major cities across the country into vibrant societies, with focus on urbanism, culture and entertainment. It aims also to increase foreign trade and exchange

with international society and attract more foreign investment from abroad. Retaining a thriving economy is also one of the most salient aspects of the plan. Intense deliberation is being made on the private sector, non-oil exports and revenues, employing more women in the workforce, and how to challenge international competitiveness. NOT ONLY NATURAL RESOURCES Although Saudi Arabia is rich in natural resources such as oil, gold, phosphate and uranium, the Crown Prince firmly asserts that Saudi Arabia is not solely dependent on minerals, and that their real wealth is in the spirit of their people and in the potential of their younger generation.





One of the focal points of the Vision is to shift the Saudi economy from dependence on oil to other sustainable and renewable energy options. The Crown Prince has also stated that the real wealth of the country is in the spirit of its people and especially in the potential of the younger generation. “They are our nation’s pride and the architects of our future,” he has stated.

There will be many new developments in the country and a series of major projects have already been revealed, such as the National Transformation Program, the Red Sea luxury resort and the construction of the transnational city NEOM, which will cost around 500 billion dollars. EMPOWERMENT OF WOMAN Great attention has been placed on the area of improving women’s rights. This year has been epoch-making already. Saudi women – for the first time ever – were

“They are our nation’s pride and the architects of our future” - Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on the potential of Saudi’s younger generation

given wider opportunities to work and were allowed into public sports and musical events, within the public respected rules of Islamic traditions. Saudi Arabia also lifted its ban on women driving in June, with the adoption of a full system of licences of driving and permits for driving schools for women. ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORT As part of one of the main projects of the plan, a new governmental authority for entertainment was established in May 2016 and a comprehensive plan for entertainment projects was approved. A total of 2 billion dollars has been invested into the entertainment sector. Cinema was authorised again and movie theatres as well as music concerts were opened earlier this year and proved very popular, especially with the young generation. A deal was struck with Six Flags to open a theme park in Riyadh by 2022. Vision 2030 has already realised several objectives and is going well driven by much optimism. It is well on track to achieving all its goals, and its main success and strong point is the tremendous support shown by Saudi youth, which represent about two thirds of the Saudi population.


Biggest flower carpet in the world, Saudi Arabia (Guinness Book of Records 2017) Photo: media.gov.sa 24


Relations between the two countries continue to grow rapidly and steadily Political and diplomatic relations between the two Kingdoms Saudi Arabia and Denmark are historic and deep-rooted.




SAUDI ARABIA AND DENMARK - a deep-rooted relationship

The Saudi embassy in Denmark and the Danish embassy in Saudi Arabia have existed for more than 50 years, with solid co-operation in all important fields for peace, security and prosperity of their two respective peoples and the whole world. STRONG ECONOMIC TIES Economic and commercial relations between the two countries are also old, strong and continue to grow rapidly and steadily. More than 100 of the largest Danish companies have investments or continuous business with Saudi Arabia. The country is one of the biggest commercial partners in the Middle East.

A ROYAL VISIT One of the most recent important official visits from the Danish side to Saudi Arabia was the visit of the Royal Couple – HRH Frederik, the Crown Prince of Denmark and HRH Princess Mary. They were accompanied by a large delegation of ministers, businessmen and investment figures. During the visit, a number of significant agreements and memorandums were approved towards more co-operation and mutual understanding. Last year 2017 a senior parliamentary delegation from the Saudi Shura Council came to Denmark and held meetings with the relevant committees from the Danish Parliament (Folketing), and other governmental officials.

Denmark’s main exports to Saudi Arabia are food and dairy products, pharmaceuticals, machinery and technical goods. In March 2016 a new Saudi-Danish Business Council was created through the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Council of Chamber of Trade and the Danish Confederation of Industry. On the technical and educational level a MoU is being drafted for technical and academic co-operation between the two countries. A number of Saudi students continue their high education at Danish universities, some of them at PhD and postdoctoral level. Several groups visit Denmark throughout the year for shorter training and educational courses and workshops.

DENMARK & SAUDI ARABIA MINISTERS Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubair meets the (then) Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kristian Jensen Photo: Saudi Ministry of Information





GREAT POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH On the economic front, in May 2017 Denmark received a top-level business team from the Council of Saudi Chambers, who held in Copenhagen the first meeting of Saudi- Danish Business Council with their Danish counterparts in the DI and Danish Agriculture and Food Council. The visiting delegation also made several business visits in Copenhagen and in Kolding. The commercial and economic co-operation between Saudi Arabia and Denmark has a lot of potential to grow more in the future, taking into consideration the fast growing Saudi economy and the new strategic reform plan of Saudi society and economy under the Vision 2030 plan. Other additional important factors include a young and well educated people, open and automated economic infrastructure, and political and economic stability.







Cordial good wishes from Denmark to Saudi Arabia on your National Day

Improving public health is also among the ambitious goals set out in Vision 2030 by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Denmark is one of the world leaders in preventing lifestyle diseases and addressing public health problems before they arise. In Denmark, healthy living is promoted through bicycles as a means of daily transport, school programs with a focus on exercise and food and by engaging businesses in the important agenda. Danish companies are also world leaders in treating lifestyle diseases with advanced solutions and drugs that support a high level of quality of life for patients. Denmark and Saudi Arabia can learn and support each other in the goal of achieving a healthy population. The diet is crucial for a healthy population. While walking down the aisle of a shop in Saudi Arabia, one cannot help but notice the large amount Danish high quality food products. Similarly, Arabic cuisine influences the daily meals of many Danes. The promotion of healthy food is enriching both countries – economically as well as culturally.

The Kingdoms of Denmark and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed formal relations since 1975. We have embassies in Riyadh and Copenhagen respectively and we co-operate bilaterally as well as through international organisations, such as the United Nations. Denmark also interacts with Saudi Arabia through the European Union on several political and commercial issues. There are strong relations between our two nations carried out through regular dialogue and discussions on a wide range of political areas and within the framework of the bilateral relations and international co-operation. MANY COMMON INTERESTS Indeed, we have a lot of common interests, and areas in which we can further promote that co-operation. In these years of climate change, where the Vision 2030 sees a sustainable future for Saudi Arabia, there are many opportunities for co-operation. Denmark and Danish companies have decades of experience and are today among the very best in the world at harnessing energy from the wind. We have a mutual interest in working closely together in the joint effort to create more sustainable societies.

EVER CLOSER More than 40 years of relations between Denmark and Saudi Arabia have brought our two countries closer together. I hope that this trend will only continue, as there are many possibilities for future dialogue and co-operation. High-level political visits and commercial delegations will increase this co-operation but People-to-people contacts are just as important. For a Saudi student looking abroad, Denmark might just offer the right profile for learning how to address the future challenges in green technology, architecture, design, sustainable and liveable cities and world-class digitalisation of public service. Meanwhile, many people in Denmark are looking towards the upcoming possibilities for tourist visas to Saudi Arabia, just as numerous Danish Muslims go on the Hajj and Umrah every year. Whether it be through diplomacy, trade, exchange of knowledge and experience or growing people-to-people contacts, closer relations will benefit a conducive and open dialogue to solve the challenges that will face us in the years to come. I wish you a great National Day. H.E. Ole E. Moesby, Ambassador of Denmark to Saudi Arabia





THIS SPORTING LIFE Saudis like sport and both ancient and modern sports still attract large numbers of adherents.

Think of Arabia and romantic visions of desert camel races, splendid horses and falconry spring immediately to mind. These sports are still popular in Saudi Arabia today but they have been joined by more modern sports, especially football. A special effort has been made to encourage sports and make them accessible to the public. Hundreds of facilities have been established throughout the Kingdom so that all Saudis can exercise regularly or enjoy popular spectator sports. In addition, all levels of the Saudi educational system – from kindergarten through university – emphasise the importance of sports. THE NOBLE ART OF FALCONRY Perhaps it is not so strange that something as ancient as falconry remains popular in modern Saudi Arabia. A lot of its adherents see it as a way of reviving an aspect of their Bedouin history. It is also practised outside cities and agricultural areas, so provides an opportunity for people to visit untouched desert environments. Saudi Arabia is one of few countries in the world which has preserved the hunting tradition of taking wild quarry with a wild hawk. Falcons are captured during the migration season and this is an important ritual which is as important as the hunt itself. Preparation for the trapping season begins early in June and July.

Passionate falconers are ready to pay a high price up to SR 500,000 and more for a rare breed. The price is linked to the colour and the size of the bird. Female falcons are considered the best because they are bigger and thus bring bigger prey. Training a falcon requires a great deal of time and patience but it is a communal affair. The falconers, surrounded by family members and friends, stroke their birds, take off their hoods and replace them to greet a newcomer. Children are even encouraged to carry a falcon so that the proud tradition can be passed on to the next generation.

World Cup 2018 Photo: theworldnewsonline.com 28

FOOTBALL FOR ALL Football is by far the most popular modern sport in Saudi Arabia and Saudis of all ages have taken the game to heart, from children having a kick about in the school playground to international matches played spectacular modern stadiums. The professional Saudi football league is wildly popular. The highlight of the league is the championship tournament known as the King’s Cup. Fans also avidly follow the Saudi Arabian national team in World Cup competitions. The Saudi national football team has gone a long way since it first appeared at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Saudi Football Team Photo: http://www.agsiw.org

In 1989, Saudi Arabia hosted the fifth World Youth Soccer Cup Championship, won the championship, and received a special commendation from the international football federation FIFA for the outstanding manner in which it has organised the event.

“Football is by far the most popular modern sport in Saudi Arabia” A few years later in 1994, the Saudi national team represented Asia at the World Cup finals in the United States, reaching the second round. This year Saudi Arabia was an enthusiastic participant in the World Cup Championship in Moscow.

SPORTS FACILITIES The Kingdom has a number of different types of sports facilities, ranging from major sports complexes to neighbourhood facilities and clubs.

Saudi Arabia’s footballers have also participated in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Huge sports complexes, called Sports Cities are located in large population centres. Each complex has a stadium that can seat between 10,000 and 60,000 people, an indoor stadium seating 5,000, Olympic-size swimming pools, indoor and outdoor courts, playgrounds, conference halls, and sports medicine clinics.

A MYRIAD OF OTHER SPORTS In addition to football, other organised sports have gained a following among Saudis, including volleyball, gymnastics, swimming and basketball. Saudi Arabia has a number of first-class golf courses. American expatriates introduced golf to Saudi Arabia in the late 1940s when they created a course in the sand near Dhahran. Ingeniously, they mixed oil with the sand to keep the course from blowing away – a method still being used. Today, there are lush green courses that look as if they belong in the tropics. Since the early 1980s, Saudi athletes have proudly represented the Kingdom in an increasing number of regional and international competitions. In December 2017 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia hosted the International Championship of Chess, with the participation of more than 240 players (men and women) from 70 countries. Saudi Arabia’s extensive sports program has brought about not only a quantitative growth in participation in sports, but also a dramatic qualitative improvement. The performance of Saudi athletes has improved steadily since the Kingdom joined the International Olympic Committee in 1965.

Smaller-scale neighbourhood sports facilities and playgrounds have also been built in large urban areas so that young Saudis can play sports like basketball and volleyball near their homes. These centres offer parks, open spaces, and facilities for indoor activities. Local sports clubs are located in all cities and towns. They offer a range of facilities for different sports, including soccer fields, indoor and outdoor courts, swimming pools, playgrounds, recreational areas and accommodations for youth camps. These clubs organize local events throughout the year.

Publisher: CPH POST | Editor: Hans Hermansen Journalist: Stephen Gadd Magazine Designers: Thomas Missmahl & Roann Villarosa Info: hans@cphpost.dk Tel: +45 2420 2411 29








The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Southwest Asia, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa; extending from the Red Sea in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east; bordered on the north by Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait, on the south, by Yemen and Oman, and on the east by the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.

2,150,000 km2

Varied; fairly barren and harsh, with salt flats, gravel plains and sand deserts; a few man-made lakes but no permanent streams; in the south, the Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest sand desert in the world; in the southwest, mountain ranges of over 9,000 feet.

Mostly desert climate, except the southwest and south mountains.





June through August, over 43.33 degrees C (110 degrees F) midday in the desert; humidity in coastal regions up to 100 percent; elsewhere, mild; possible winter temperatures in the northern and central regions dropping below freezing; rainfall, from very scarce in the Rub Al-Khali desert to 20 inches a year in the mountains of Asir Province.

32.5 million (2017). This includes nearly 12.3 million expatriates.

Arabic; English is widely spoken.

Greenwich Mean Time plus three (GMT+3), (two during Daylight Savings Time).


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as defined by the Basic System of Government, is an Arab and Islamic sovereign state. The King is the head of state and acts also as prime minister. He is assisted by members of the Council of Ministers for executive functions and by the Council of Alshura (which is the legislative body).


September 23, commemorating the foundation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. This was the foundation of the present Third Saudi State. The First Saudi State was founded in Aldiriya (presently a district of Riyadh), in the year 1744.


His Majesty King Abdulaziz bin Abdelrahman Al-Saud, the founder (1932-1963), followed by his sons Their Majesties: King Saud (1953-64), His Majesty King Faisal (1964-75), King Khalid (1975-82), King Fahd (1982-2005), King Abdullah (2005-2015) and the current ruler, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.


Islamic (Hijrah), dating from emigration of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah, now the year 1439. Weekend, Friday and Saturday.


Closure of all offices and schools on Eid Al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast, from the evening of the twenty-fifth day of Ramadan through the fifth day of Shawwal; Eid Al-Adha, the culmination of the Hajj, from the fifth through fifteenth day of Dhu Al-Hajjah; and National Day, 23 September, is also a national holiday




Government offices Sunday through Thursday from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm; private businesses from 8:00 am to noon and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm; general banking from 8:00 am until noon and from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm and markets and shops from 8:00 am until 10:00 pm.

Saudi Riyal (SAR) pegged to US Dollar (1 USD = SR 3.75); banknotes, in Arabic and English, in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 riyals; coins in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 halalahs, with 100 halalahs equal to one riyal; metric system in use.



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