For the history of the area before 1744, see Arabia (History). From 1744, the clan Al Saud succeeded in conjunction with the political-religious reform movement Wahhabism founding a first Saudi kingdom with its center in Najd. It was crushed by Ottoman forces in 1811-18. Since the Saudis were again defeated in 1891, this time by a rival clan, Al Saud fled to Kuwait. From there, Abd al-Aziz initiated ibn Saud (later known as Ibn Saud) in 1901 to regain the lost territory of the clan, and in January 1902 Riyadh was taken. Gradually, more and more were conquered by Saudi Arabia, and in the mid-1920s, Ibn Saud stood as the victor. The provinces of Hijaz and Najd were ruled as separate administrative units until they merged in 1932 and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed.
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Religion and tribal politics became tools in Ibn Saud’s state building, which took place in collaboration with the country’s elite. Although major oil revenues flowed through agreements with Aramco (Arab-American Oil Company) which Saudi Arabia has owned 50 percent since 1950, the Saudi economy did not improve significantly, due to the low oil prices. Some improvement was made with the formation of OPEC in 1960, and royalties to Saudi Arabia and other member states increased. However, the real change did not happen until 1973 by OPEC pushing through higher oil prices. At the same time, Saudi Arabia began the continued and gradual nationalization of Aramco, which was completed in 1980. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Saudi Arabia. These resources laid the foundation for the development of a modern welfare state, where citizens received free health care and education, interest-free loans for housing construction and for the development of new companies and more.
US oil interests also helped develop close relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Ibn Saud died in 1953, and after a power struggle, the successor Saud was deposed in 1964 in favor of Brother Faysal. He began a purposeful modernization of Saudi Arabia, but without eroding the role of religion and tradition. Foreign policy Saudi Arabia pursued a conservative and anti-socialist policy, which led to strained relations with Nasser’s Egypt. Contradictions were sharpened in 1962-67, when Saudi Arabia supported the Yugoslav faction in the Yemeni civil war against the Republicans, supported by Egypt. During the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88, Saudi Arabia assisted Iraq against fundamentalist Iran. However, during the 1990-1999 Kuwait War, Iraq’s main opponents came.
To take the step from a poor isolated Bedouin community to a rich industrial and welfare state in a very short time would not have been possible without foreign labor at all levels. However, very few guest workers have so far been able to obtain Saudi citizenship, it only happens exceptionally. Guest workers are usually contracted for a specific period of time with a work permit linked to a particular company or institution. The influx of foreign labor has been controlled by oil revenues; When oil prices fell in the 1980s, the number of new guest workers decreased, and with higher oil prices, which have been the case since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the influx of guest workers has also increased. In the long term, the Saudi state wants to reduce the proportion of guest workers, and for many years a Saudi policy has been pursued that includes men as well as women. Many more and less well-educated Saudi women want to enter the labor market and demand that they get jobs. This has led the state to launch special job campaigns for girls and women.
In the context of the Kuwaiti war, a delicate political situation arose, with many Palestinian guest workers sympathizing with Iraq. These were forced after Kuwait’s liberation to leave the country. Yemen, just reunited and sitting on the UN Security Council, did not vote for sanctions on Iraq. This was linked to the establishment of the so-called Arab Cooperation Council, ACC, consisting of Yemen, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. They had entered into a comprehensive cooperation agreement, which included defense and security policy. Yemen’s actions in the Security Council were seen as a betrayal and an estimated 800,000 Yemenites with families were allowed to leave Saudi Arabia, which further exacerbated the socio-economic problems in Yemen. After Kuwait’s liberation, the recruitment of Asian guest workers came at the expense of Palestinians,
The shaky changes in Iran in 1979 affected Saudi Arabia. In the wake of the revolution, fanatical Muslims occupied the great mosque in Mecca in November of that year. This brought the Saudi regime’s attention to problems and tensions in the wake of rapid development. When the Soviet Union began its invasion of Afghanistan at the same time, Saudi Arabia immediately turned to the United States. In the coming years, the United States came to provide the Afghan resistance movement with weapons largely financed by Saudi Arabia. It was in this context that Saudi businessman Usama bin Laden began to build al-Qaeda. The Saudi government, which was troubled by criticism or questioning by the Saudi royal family, saw its support for the religiously inspired Afghan resistance movement as a way of strengthening its legitimacy. Passively supporting the development of al Qaeda was seen as a guarantee to the royal family rather than a danger. In this situation, King Fahd in 1986 took the title of guardian of Islam’s holiest cities.
Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait had far-reaching consequences for Saudi Arabia. For example, the country agreed to receive Western troops for the first time. About 400,000 American soldiers were stationed in Saudi Arabia. It was Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that provided most of the funding for Kuwait’s liberation. The war became a very good deal for the United States, which significantly improved its current account balance. When the Soviet Union was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989, bin Laden and al-Qaeda wanted to move on. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, bin Laden and al-Qaeda offered their services, but did not hear from the Saudi leadership. This marked the beginning of a deep conflict between Saudi Arabia and bin Laden and some other religious representatives who strongly criticized the Saudi regime and the entire royal family. From being seen as an asset, bin Laden became a threat. In 1994, bin Laden and a number of other extreme Islamists were deprived of their Saudi citizenship. Thereafter, terrorist attacks began targeting US targets in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi regime had for a long time warned the US and Western Europe of bin Laden and other religious extremists, but instead of taking the warnings seriously, both the United States and Britain gave sanctuary to influential Saudi dissidents. This changed with the September 11 attacks, which also fundamentally changed Saudi-American relations.
That Saudi Arabia, like most other Arab states, did not lend its support to the US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003, temporarily complicated relations. On the Saudi side, US military activities from Saudi territory were banned. Most of the US military presence in Saudi Arabia disappeared. Saudi Arabia, like some other Arab states, advocated peaceful means of pressure against Saddam Hussein. This policy annoyed the United States, which, despite previously supporting the development of the GCC, was now beginning to try to divide the countries by concluding bilateral free trade agreements. Bahrain and Oman accepted such agreements, while Saudi Arabia strongly opposed this development.
During the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia was also withdrawn, partly through the country’s military assistance to the regime in Bahrain, and partly through its financial and material support for the rebel movements in Syria. In order to curb revolutionary tendencies at home, the Saudi regime has made further and comprehensive efforts for improved welfare. So far, it has been quite quiet in Saudi Arabia, with the exception of protests by some Shiite groups in the eastern province. At the same time, relations with the United States have improved.
Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia has also deepened its cooperation with other countries, especially in Asia. It may be mentioned that the first trips abroad that King Abdullah made after he formally succeeded King Fadh were state visits to China and India in 2006.