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Old history



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Old Saudi Arabia: History

Saudi Arabia is the birth-place of Islam. The remnants of earlier civilization found in Saudi Arabia show that settlements along the Gulf coast had links with the Ubaid culture in Mesopotamia. During the historical eras, there were close links between the region and other centres overlooking the Gulf coast and Mesopotamia. As Arab traders began to transport their goods overland between Yemen and Levant using camel caravans, trading routes became established and cities like Mecca and Medinah grew up.

The region’s modern history is closely linked to the Al Saud dynasty and the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia dates back to 1747. In that year, the ruler of the central Arabian Peninsula, Muhammad Bin Saud, formed an alliance with the Muslim scholar and reformer Muhammad Bin Abdul Wahhab. That partnership led to the founding of the modern state. The Al-Saud family ruled much of the Arabian Peninsula throughout the 19th century. In 1902, Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud succeeded in recapturing Riyadh from Al-Rashid and in the following thirty years united the numerous and diverse tribes into one nation.

On September 23, 1932, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud founded the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A majority of world powers recognized the sovereignty of the new nation. In 1933 King Abdul Aziz commissioned a survey of the country's natural resources, and in 1937 oil was discovered. Commercial production of this precious commodity, of which Saudi Arabia has the largest known reserves (25 percent of the entire planet's proven oil reserves), began in 1938. Facilitated by increasing oil revenues, the country began its successful modernization, based on a series of five-year development plans.

 King Abdul Aziz developed international relations with the world's great powers. Early in 1945, King Abdul Aziz met with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy near the southern end of the Suez Canal. In the same year King Abdul Aziz met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Over the past six decades, Saudi Arabia has developed a special relationship with the United States, based on mutual respect and common interests.

 After the death of his father in 1953, King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz assumed leadership of the Kingdom. King Saud created the country's welfare structure during his 11 year reign and was also noted for his generosity to Islamic causes. King Faisal succeeded his brother Saud in 1964, and it was during his rule that Saudi Arabia achieved a major breakthrough in industrial growth. King Faisal stabilized the economy and employed the country's vast oil revenues in a massive national development program. In 1975 King Faisal died and was succeeded by his brother King Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz. Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz was named Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister.

King Khalid oversaw the implementation of the second five-year development plan (1975-1979) and the creation of the third five-year development plan (1980-1984). Saudi Arabia began to diversify its economic base and edged toward the completion of its infrastructure. When King Khalid passed away in 1982, Crown Prince Fahd became the leader of the Kingdom. His brother, Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, was named Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister. Since then, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz have made a strong commitment to industrialization, agriculture and education, playing a major role in promoting the welfare of all Saudi citizens.

 Late King Fahd has taken historic steps to revise the Kingdom’s political and administrative system. On March 1, 1992, he introduced a new Basic Law for the System of Government which outlined the government’s goals and responsibilities and redefined the relationship between the King and his citizens. In addition, for the first time, the rules of succession to become Head of State were put into writing and formalized. New bylaws were also introduced for the Council of Ministers.

Ministers are appointed by the King and are responsible for implementing governmental policies which relate to their particular ministry. The Council of Ministers, headed by the King, is responsible for drafting and overseeing implementation of the internal, external, economic, financial, social, educational, defense, and other general matters of the state.

Local government

In 1993, late King Fahd promulgated new bylaws for the Provincial System to aid in the administration of the country’s provinces and to facilitate their continued development. The Kingdom is divided into 14 provinces through which local affairs are administered. Each is headed by an Emir (governor) who is appointed by the King. The governor is assisted by a vice governor. He is also assisted by a provincial council, which is composed of the heads of the province’s government departments and a ten-member council of prominent individuals in the community who are appointed to four-year, renewable terms.

Shoura Council

 In August 1993, King Fahd restructured the Majlis Al-Shura (national consultative council) to make it more efficient. The Majlis Al-Shura, which was initially composed of 60 prominent members of Saudi social, political, and religious life, was expanded to 90 members in 1997. The Majlis Al-Shura advises the King and the Council of Ministers on a regular basis on matters pertaining to government programs and policies. The Shura Council’s primary function is to assess, interpret, and modify the Kingdom’s system of laws, by-laws, contracts, and international agreements.




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