Currency: Saudi riyal (SR) (SAR)
Listen to the national anthem
Saudi Arabia can boast the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, in Mecca. Prophet Muhammad was born about 571 AD and was responsible for unifying the whole of Arabia. It is believed by Muslims that Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet to be sent to mankind by God himself.
From the 16th century, Saudi Arabia was under the control of the Ottoman Empire but by the end of the First World War, the Ottoman's had been crushed due to the continued British involvement against them as well as the pan-Arab revolt who fought the united Arab state. After the First World War and the defeat of the Ottomans, Saudi Arabia was one of the poorest nations on the planet that is until the discovery of oil in 1938. In 1941, under US control the ARAMCO (Arab American Oil Company) began the construction of the first oil field.
The enforcement of law and order in Saudi Arabia is extreme to most countries. Sharia Law is the main law and this stemmed from the teachings of the Qu'ran, the Holy Book of Islam. Because there is no specific code or book of Law, the results can be very varied and the verdict can easily be over-ruled. Many methods of punishment horrify Human Rights organisations as they include public displays of beheading, stoning, beatings, amputations and lashings. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that has beheading in law and still carries it out. In 2013 it was said that there was a shortage of executioners, with some turning up late.
Saudi Arabia has over the 50 or so years lost as many as 300 or more historic sites that could be traced back to the days of the Prophet Muhammad himself. These sites include Khadijah, the house Abu Bakr, the father-in-law of Muhammad himself who went on to become the Caliph after Muhammad's death around 632 AD. The site that was Abu Bakr's house is now a Hilton Hotel. It looks as though the discovery of oil and the subsequent wealth has proven to be worth more than great historic sites and buildings, even those that important religious significance to Muslims all round the world.