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About Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies approximately 800,000 square miles – about four-fifths of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea and on the east by the Arabian Gulf. Neighboring states are Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait to the north; Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to the east; Yemen and the Sultanate of Oman to the south.

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by a king. It rules through royal decrees issued in conjunction with the Council of Ministers and with advice from the Consultative Council. Members of both councils are appointed by the king. Islamic law (shari'ah) is the basis of the authority of the monarchy and provides the foundation of the country's customs and social practices. Saudi Arabia has an estimated population of 28 million people.

Rainfall

The average national rainfall in Saudi Arabia is 2.76 inches, but extremes are possible. The Empty Quarter (one of the largest sand deserts in the world) may record no rainfall at all for several years, while snow has been recorded in the north of the kingdom. The rainy season extends from November through May, with the mountainous 'Asir region being an exception, where summer monsoons result in an annual rainfall of 12 to 14 inches.

Sandstorms

Shamal is the common Arabic term for the sandstorms that reduce visibility to zero, closing airports and harbors. There are two shamal seasons: the first extends from late spring to early summer; and the second from late fall to early winter. The highest winds generally occur in early afternoon and usually decrease in the late evening.

Temperature and humidity

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia experiences extremes of these two measures. In the interior, the air is dry. On the coasts, summer humidity is excessive, particularly at night. In summer, temperatures in some areas may reach 122°F (50°C) in the shade, but in the spring, the days are balmy and the nights are clear. In winter, temperatures can drop below freezing in the central and northern regions, and snow sometimes falls in the mountains, the northern plateau, and even in the capital, Riyadh.

Finance

The basic monetary unit is the Saudi Riyal (SR), which is printed in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500. Coins are called halalat and are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 100. One riyal equals 100 halalat.

Major credit cards are widely accepted in Saudi Arabia.

Time

Saudi Arabia is on Greenwich Mean Time plus three hours (GMT + 3:00).

Work schedules

The regular work week is from Saturday to Wednesday. The weekend days are Thursday and Friday.


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