Saudi Arabia Table of Contents

The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of the writers of the 1984 edition of Saudi Arabia: A Country Study, edited by Richard F. Nyrop. Their work provided general background for the present volume.

The authors are grateful to individuals in various government agencies and private institutions who gave of their time, research materials, and expertise in the production of this book. These individuals included Ralph K. Benesch, who oversees the Country Studies--Area Handbook program for the Department of the Army. The authors also wish to thank members of the Federal Research Division staff who contributed directly to the preparation of the manuscript. These people included Sandra W. Meditz, who reviewed all drafts and served as liaison with the sponsoring agency; Marilyn Majeska, who supervised editing and managed book production; Andrea Merrill, who reviewed tables and figures; and Barbara Edgerton and Izella Watson, who performed word processing.

Also involved in preparing the text was Peter Tietjen, who edited chapters; Catherine Schwartzstein, who performed the prepublication editorial review; and Joan C. Cook, who compiled the index. Malinda B. Neale of the Library of Congress Composing Unit prepared the camera-ready copy under the supervision of Peggy Pixley.

Graphics were prepared by David P. Cabitto, and Timothy L. Merrill prepared map drafts. David P. Cabitto and the firm of Greenhorne and O'Mara prepared the final maps. Special thanks are owed to Farah Ahannavard, who prepared the illustrations on the title page of each chapter, and David P. Cabitto, who did the cover art.

Finally, the authors acknowledge the generosity of the Saudi Arabian Information Office, the Armed Forces Office of the Royal Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, and the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), who allowed their photographs to be used in this study.


This edition of Saudi Arabia: A Country Study replaces the previous edition published in 1984. Like its predecessor, the present book attempts to treat in a compact and objective manner the dominant historical, social, economic, political, and national security aspects of contemporary Saudi Arabia. Sources of information included scholarly books, journals, and monographs; official reports and documents of governments and international organizations; and foreign and domestic newspapers and periodicals. Relatively up-to-date economic data were available from several sources, but the sources were not always in agreement. Most demographic data should be viewed as estimates.

The transliteration of Arabic words and phrases posed a particular problem. For many of the words--such as Muhammad, Muslim, Quran, and shaykh--the authors followed a modified version of the system adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names and the Permanent Committee on Geographic Names for British Official Use, known as the BGN/PCGN system; the modification entails the omission of all diacritical markings and hyphens. In numerous instances, however, the names of persons or places are so well known by another spelling that to have used the BGN/PCGN system may have created confusion. For example, the reader will find Mecca rather than Makkah and Medina rather than Al Madinah. In addition, although the government of Saudi Arabia officially rejects the use of the term Persian Gulf and refers to that body of water as the Arabian Gulf, the authors followed the practice of the United States Board on Geographic Names by using Persian Gulf or gulf.

Saudi Arabia uses the lunar Islamic calendar, in which the first year was that of the Prophet's migration to Medina in A.D. 622. The year has 354 days in twelve lunar months, a month being the time between two new moons, approximately twenty-nine and one-half days. Months alternately consist of twenty-nine and thirty days; to adjust for a slight overlap, an additional day is added eleven times during normal years. Months thus have no fixed relation to the seasons but make a complete circuit every thirtythree Gregorian years; Gregorian years are used in this book.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress