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Arabia is named after both the Arabian Peninsula, on which the country sits, and
the Al Saud family, the ruling family of the country. The name Arabia has been used
for thousands of years and is also the root of the names for the Arab people and
WARNING: Terrorist threats
linger in Saudi Arabia, please read this
travel warning before going!
Despite being a large country, the culture and way of life in
Saudi Arabia are very uniform from region to region. This is because Saudi
Arabia is the home of Islam as the religion's two holiest cities, Mecca and
Medina, are both located in the country and Islam is the base of the culture.
In order to maintain the protection of these cities, their holy sites, and the religion
as a whole the country has created and enforces very strict laws which are in accordance
with Sharia (or Islamic) Law. This is done partially to satisfy the Muslim pilgrims
who travel to Saudi Arabia every year, many of whom
are very conservative.
The actual laws are not as strict as they appear, but everyone tends to be more
conservative than required as social etiquette demands this. Although women don't
have to legally cover their faces, for example, all women do so. Many of these dress
and behavior restrictions are also divided by sex as men and women are not allowed
to touch each other unless married.
Despite the social conservatism in Saudi Arabia,
from a technological viewpoint the country is very advanced. Since the discovery
of oil, the country has become quite wealthy and the government has used much of
this money to advance their technology.
Today the people are becoming more and more educated in every field, but the oil
industry seems to be driving this rapid growth. With each year the country is also
becoming more educated as many new jobs are "white collar" positions in
every field from engineers in the oil industry to doctors assisting the huge population.
Saudi Arabia continues to be a balance between a
country with a modern and advanced economy as well as a socially conservative country,
creating an odd, almost seemingly impossible balance in the daily way of life. This
balancing act may seem to be contradictory, however the people believe in the system
and the government so there seems to be little argument as Saudi Arabia continues
to move forward.
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