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Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Amnesty calls for international probe into Khashoggi murder.

Saudi Arabia (/ ˌ s ɔː d i ə ˈ r eɪ b i ə /, / ˌ s aʊ-/ ; Arabic: السعودية ‎ as-Saʿūdīyah), officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA; Arabic: المملكة العربية السعودية ‎ al-Mamlakah ʿArabīyah as-Saʿūdīyah, pronunciation (help · info)), is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of Calling code: + Saudia guests who have Hajj visa and plan to visit Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj are not allowed to book and issue tickets online and have to contact the nearest Saudia office or certified travel agency by Saudi Hajj ministry to do the needful preparations.

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In return, the Al ash-Sheikh support the Al Saud's political authority [] thereby using its religious- moral authority to legitimize the royal family's rule. The primary source of law is the Islamic Sharia derived from the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah the traditions of the Prophet. Saudi judges tend to follow the principles of the Hanbali school of jurisprudence or fiqh found in pre-modern texts [] and noted for its literalist interpretation of the Qur'an and hadith. Because the judge is empowered to disregard previous judgments either his own or of other judges and may apply his personal interpretation of Sharia to any particular case, divergent judgements arise even in apparently identical cases, [] making predictability of legal interpretation difficult.

Royal decrees are the other main source of law; but are referred to as regulations rather than laws because they are subordinate to the Sharia. Additionally, traditional tribal law and custom remain significant. The Saudi system of justice has been criticized for its "ultra-puritanical judges", who are often harsh in their sentencing with beheading for the crime of witchcraft , but also sometimes overly lenient for cases of rape or wife-beating and slow, for example leaving thousands of abandoned women unable to secure a divorce.

Capital and physical punishments imposed by Saudi courts, such as beheading , stoning to death , amputation , crucifixion and lashing , as well as the sheer number of executions have been strongly criticized.

The last reported execution for sorcery took place in September Although repeated theft can be punishable by amputation of the right hand, only one instance of judicial amputation was reported between and Homosexual acts are punishable by flogging or death. Retaliatory punishments, or Qisas , are practised: Even after allowing women to drive and work, public places in Saudi Arabia are still gender-segregated and the kingdom has very strict laws on how unrelated men and women can dine together.

In September , a man was arrested by the Saudi authorities for appearing in a video with his female colleague while having breakfast at a hotel, where they both work. Western-based organizations such as Amnesty International , Human Rights Watch and Freedom House condemn both the Saudi criminal justice system and its severe punishments.

There are no jury trials in Saudi Arabia and courts observe few formalities. Those arrested are often not informed of the crime of which they are accused or given access to a lawyer and are subject to abusive treatment and torture if they do not confess. At trial, there is a presumption of guilt and the accused is often unable to examine witnesses and evidence or present a legal defense. Most trials are held in secret.

Saudi Arabia is widely accused of having one of the worst human rights records in the world. Human rights issues that have attracted strong criticism include the extremely disadvantaged position of women see Women below , capital punishment for homosexuality , [] religious discrimination, the lack of religious freedom and the activities of the religious police see Religion below. To date, the activities of the NSHR have been limited and doubts remain over its neutrality and independence.

In response to the continuing criticism of its human rights record, the Saudi government points to the special Islamic character of the country, and asserts that this justifies a different social and political order. For example, Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr was arrested in when he was 17 years old for taking part in an anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring.

In , the government deported thousands of non-Saudis, many of them who were working illegally in the country or had overstayed their visas. Many reports abound, of foreigner workers being tortured either by employers or others. Saudi Arabia has a "Counter-Radicalization Program" the purpose of which is to "combat the spread and appeal of extremist ideologies among the general populous sic " and to "instill the true values of the Islamic faith , such as tolerance and moderation.

According to Turkish government sources there is audio and video evidence for him having been murdered and dismembered inside the consulate. Since , as a founding member of OPEC , its oil pricing policy has been generally to stabilize the world oil market and try to moderate sharp price movements so as to not jeopardise the Western economies. However, there is evidence that the vast majority was, in fact, spent on propagating and extending the influence of Wahhabism at the expense of other forms of Islam.

The relations with the U. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. In the Arab and Muslim worlds, Saudi Arabia is considered to be pro-Western and pro-American, [] and it is certainly a long-term ally of the United States. China and Saudi Arabia are major allies, with relationship between the two countries growing significantly in recent decades.

Majority of Saudi Arabians also expressed a favorable view of China. The consequences of the invasion and the Arab Spring led to increasing alarm within the Saudi monarchy over the rise of Iran 's influence in the region.

In order to protect the house of Khalifa, the monarchs of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain by sending military troops to quell the uprising of Bahraini people on 14 March According to the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in March , Saudi Arabia along with Qatar provided political, financial and media support to terrorists against the Iraqi government.

On 25 March , Saudi Arabia, spearheading a coalition of Sunni Muslim states, [] started a military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh , who was deposed in the Arab Spring uprisings.

Saudi Arabia, together with Qatar and Turkey , openly supported the Army of Conquest , [] an umbrella group of anti-government forces fighting in the Syrian Civil War that reportedly included an al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front and another Salafi coalition known as Ahrar al-Sham.

Following a number of incidents during the Hajj season, the deadliest [] of which killed at least 2, pilgrim [] in Mina stampede , Saudi Arabia has been accused of mismanagement and focusing on increasing money revenues while neglecting pilgrims' welfare.

In March , Sweden scrapped an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, marking an end to a decade-old defense agreement with the kingdom. The decision came after Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was blocked by the Saudis while speaking about democracy and women's rights at the Arab League in Cairo. This also led to Saudi Arabia recalling its ambassador to Sweden.

According to Sir William Patey , former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the kingdom funds mosques throughout Europe that have become hotbeds of extremism.

Saudi Arabia has been seen as a moderating influence in the Arab—Israeli conflict , periodically putting forward a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians and condemning Hezbollah.

In August both countries appeared to be exploring ways of ending the rift. In , Saudi Arabia imposed a land, naval and air blockade on Qatar. Tensions have escalated between the Saudi and its allies after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials are highly skeptical of Khashoggi being murdered inside the consulate; this has strained the already suffering Saudi Arabia—Turkey relations.

The relations have the potential of evolving into a crisis at any moment. Theresa May backed the US call to end the coalition. The US called for a ceasefire within 30 days. Britain has a unique position, both as pen-holder [lead state for drafting decisions] at the UN Security Council and as a key influencer in the region, so today I am travelling to the Gulf to demand that all sides commit to this process.

We are witnessing a manmade humanitarian catastrophe on our watch: In the armed forces had the following personnel: The kingdom has a long-standing military relationship with Pakistan , it has long been speculated that Saudi Arabia secretly funded Pakistan's atomic bomb programme and seeks to purchase atomic weapons from Pakistan, in near future.

Its modern existence, however, is attributable to it being effectively Abdullah's private army since the s and, unlike the rest of the armed forces, is independent of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation. The late prince Sultan, former Minister of Defense and Aviation, was one of the so-called 'Sudairi Seven' and controlled the remainder of the armed forces until his death in Its modern high-technology arsenal makes Saudi Arabia among the world's most densely armed nations, with its military equipment being supplied primarily by the US, France and Britain.

The package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces. The United Kingdom has also been a major supplier of military equipment to Saudi Arabia since Major imports in —14 included 45 combat aircraft from the UK, 38 combat helicopters from the USA, 4 tanker aircraft from Spain and over armoured vehicles from Canada.

Saudi Arabia has a long list of outstanding orders for arms, including 27 more combat aircraft from the UK, combat aircraft from the USA and a large number of armoured vehicles from Canada.

Because the country's southern borders with the United Arab Emirates and Oman are not precisely marked, the exact size of the country is undefined. Saudi Arabia's geography is dominated by the Arabian Desert , associated semi-desert and shrubland see satellite image and several mountain ranges and highlands.

The fertile areas are to be found in the alluvial deposits in wadis, basins, and oases. On the Red Sea coast, there is a narrow coastal plain, known as the Tihamah parallel to which runs an imposing escarpment.

Except for the southwestern province of Asir , Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with very high day-time temperatures and a sharp temperature drop at night.

Annual rainfall is extremely low. The Asir region differs in that it is influenced by the Indian Ocean monsoons , usually occurring between October and March. Wildlife includes the Arabian leopard , [] [] wolf , striped hyena , mongoose , baboon , hare , sand cat , and jerboa. Animals such as gazelles, oryx , leopards and cheetahs [] were relatively numerous until the 19th century, when extensive hunting reduced these animals almost to extinction.

Birds include falcons which are caught and trained for hunting , eagles, hawks, vultures, sandgrouse , and bulbuls. There are several species of snakes, many of which are venomous. Saudi Arabia is home to a rich marine life. The Red Sea in particular is a rich and diverse ecosystem. The reefs form platforms and sometimes lagoons along the coast and occasional other features such as cylinders such as the Blue Hole Red Sea at Dahab.

These coastal reefs are also visited by pelagic species of Red Sea fish, including some of the 44 species of shark. The Red Sea also contains many offshore reefs including several true atolls. Many of the unusual offshore reef formations defy classic i. Domesticated animals include the legendary Arabian horse , Arabian camel , sheep, goats, cows, donkeys, chickens etc.

Reflecting the country's dominant desert conditions, Saudi Arabia's plant life mostly consists of herbs, plants and shrubs that require little water. The date palm Phoenix dactylifera is widespread. Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 regions [] Arabic: The regions are further divided into governorates Arabic: This number includes the 13 regional capitals, which have a different status as municipalities Arabic: The governorates are further sudivided into sub-governorates Arabic: As of October , Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East and the 18th largest in the world.

Saudi Arabia is considered an " energy superpower ". Saudi Arabia officially has about billion barrels 4. In the s, Saudi Arabia experienced a significant contraction of oil revenues combined with a high rate of population growth.

From — "several key services" were privatized—municipal water supply, electricity, telecommunications—and parts of education and health care, traffic control and car accident reporting were also privatized. According to Arab News columnist Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg, "in almost every one of these areas, consumers have raised serious concerns about the performance of these privatized entities.

Negotiations to join had focused on the degree to which Saudi Arabia is willing to increase market access to foreign goods and in , the government established the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority to encourage foreign direct investment in the kingdom. The government has also made an attempt at " Saudizing " the economy, replacing foreign workers with Saudi nationals with limited success.

Saudi Arabia has had five-year "Development Plans" since Among its plans were to launch "economic cities" e. King Abdullah Economic City to be completed by , in an effort to diversify the economy and provide jobs.

As of [update] four cities were planned. In addition to petroleum and gas, Saudi also has a significant gold mining sector in the ancient Mahd adh Dhahab region and significant other mineral industries, an agricultural sector especially in the southwest but not only based on vegetables, fruits, dates etc. Statistics on poverty in the kingdom are not available through the UN resources because the Saudi government does not issue any.

In December , the Saudi interior ministry arrested three reporters and held them for almost two weeks for questioning after they uploaded a video on the topic to YouTube. Each year, about a quarter-million young Saudis enter the job market. However, the private sector still remains hugely dominated by foreigners.

The rate of local unemployment is Serious large-scale agricultural development began in the s. The government launched an extensive program to promote modern farming technology; to establish rural roads, irrigation networks and storage and export facilities; and to encourage agricultural research and training institutions. As a result, there has been a phenomenal growth in the production of all basic foods. Saudi Arabia is now completely self-sufficient in a number of foodstuffs, including meat, milk and eggs.

The country exports wheat, dates, dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables and flowers to markets around the world. Dates, once a staple of the Saudi diet, are now mainly grown for global humanitarian aid. In addition, Saudi farmers grow substantial amounts of other grains such as barley, sorghum and millet.

As of , in the interest of preserving precious water resources, domestic production of wheat has ended. The Kingdom likewise has some of the most modern and largest dairy farms in the Middle East. Milk production boasts a remarkably productive annual rate of 1, gallons per cow, one of the highest in the world. The local dairy manufacturing company Almarai is the largest vertically integrated dairy company in the Middle East. The Kingdom's most dramatic agricultural accomplishment, noted worldwide, was its rapid transformation from importer to exporter of wheat.

In , the country built its first grain silos. By , it had become self-sufficient in wheat. Shortly thereafter, Saudi Arabia began exporting wheat to some thirty countries, including China and the former Soviet Union, and in the major producing areas of Tabuk, Hail and Qasim, average yields reached 3.

The Kingdom has, however, stepped up fruit and vegetable production, by improving both agricultural techniques and the roads that link farmers with urban consumers. Saudi Arabia is a major exporter of fruits and vegetables to its neighbors. Among its most productive crops are watermelon, grapes, citrus fruits, onions, squash and tomatoes. At Jizan in the country's well-watered southwest, the Al-Hikmah Research Station is producing tropical fruits including pineapples, paw-paws, bananas, mangoes and guavas.

The olive tree is indigenous to Saudi Arabia. In the Al Jouf Agricultural Development Company received a certificate of merit from The Guinness World Records for the largest modern olive plantation in the world. The farm covers hectares and has 5 million olive trees. The Guinness World Records also took into consideration their production capacity of tonnes of high quality of olive oil, while the kingdom consumes double that.

The Al Jouf farms are located in Sakaka , a city in the north-western part of Saudi Arabia, which is a deeply-rooted in history. Sakaka dates back more than 4, years. Consuming non-renewable groundwater resulted in the loss of an estimated four fifths of the total groundwater reserves by Water supply and sanitation in Saudi Arabia is characterized by significant investments in seawater desalination , water distribution, sewerage and wastewater treatment leading to a substantial increase in access to drinking water and sanitation over the past decades.

Given the substantial oil wealth , water is provided almost for free. Despite improvements service quality remains poor. For example, in Riyadh water was available only once every 2.

Since , the government has increasingly relied on the private sector to operate water and sanitation infrastructure, beginning with desalination and wastewater treatment plants. Since , the operation of urban water distribution systems is being gradually delegated to private companies as well.

Although most tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages, there is growth in the leisure tourism sector. According to the World Bank , approximately Starting December , the kingdom will offer an electronic visa for foreign visitors to attend sport events and concerts. The old city of Jeddah. A farm in Al-Qassim Province. Faifa mountains in Jizan Province. The population of Saudi Arabia as of July is estimated to be As late as , most Saudis lived a subsistence life in the rural provinces, but in the last half of the 20th century the kingdom has urbanized rapidly.

Its population is also quite young with over half the population under 25 years old. As recently as the early s, Saudi Arabia's slave population was estimated at , The official language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic. The three main regional variants spoken by Saudis are Hejazi Arabic about 6 million speakers [] , Najdi Arabic about 8 million speakers [] , and Gulf Arabic about 0. Saudi Sign Language is the principal language of the deaf community. The large expatriate communities also speak their own languages, the most numerous of which are Tagalog , , Rohingya , , Urdu , , and Egyptian Arabic , Virtually all Saudi citizens are Muslim [] officially, all are , and almost all Saudi residents are Muslim.

Other denominations, such as the minority Shia Islam , are systematically suppressed. According to estimates there are about 1,, Christians in Saudi Arabia, almost all foreign workers. The percentage of Saudi Arabian citizens who are Christians is officially zero, [] as Saudi Arabia forbids religious conversion from Islam apostasy and punishes it by death.

There may be a significant fraction of atheists and agnostics in Saudi Arabia, [] [] although they are officially called "terrorists". In its religious freedom report, the U. Foreign Muslims [] who have resided in the kingdom for ten years may apply for Saudi citizenship. Priority is given to holders of degrees in various scientific fields, [] and exception made for Palestinians who are excluded unless married to a Saudi national, because of Arab League instructions barring the Arab states from granting them citizenship.

As Saudi population grows and oil export revenues stagnate, pressure for " Saudization " the replacement of foreign workers with Saudis has grown, and the Saudi government hopes to decrease the number of foreign nationals in the country. Various Human Rights entities have criticised Saudi Arabia's handling of the issue.

Saudi Arabia has centuries-old attitudes and traditions, often derived from Arab civilization. This culture has been heavily influenced by the austerely puritanical Wahhabi form of Islam, which arose in the eighteenth century and now predominates in the country. Wahhabi Islam has been called "the predominant feature of Saudi culture. Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its law requires that all citizens be Muslims.

Proponents call the movement " Salafism ", [] and believe that its teachings purify the practice of Islam of innovations or practices that deviate from the seventh-century teachings of Muhammad and his companions.

More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them. Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that have " religious police " known as Haia or Mutaween , who patrol the streets " enjoining good and forbidding wrong " by enforcing dress codes , strict separation of men and women , attendance at prayer salat five times each day, the ban on alcohol, and other aspects of Sharia Islamic law.

In the privacy of the home behavior can be far looser, and reports from the Daily Mail and WikiLeaks indicate that the ruling Saudi Royal family applies a different moral code to itself, indulging in parties, drugs and sex. Until , the kingdom used the lunar Islamic calendar , not the international Gregorian calendar , [] but in the kingdom announced its switch to the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes. Daily life is dominated by Islamic observance.

Businesses are closed three or four times a day [] for 30 to 45 minutes during business hours while employees and customers are sent off to pray.

As of [update] approximately half of the broadcast airtime of Saudi state television was devoted to religious issues. In contrast, assigned readings over twelve years of primary and secondary schooling devoted to covering the history, literature, and cultures of the non-Muslim world comes to a total of about 40 pages.

Because of religious restrictions, Saudi culture lacks any diversity of religious expression, buildings, annual festivals and public events. Proselytizing by non-Muslims and conversion by Muslims to another religion is illegal, [] and as of [update] the distribution of "publications that have prejudice to any other religious belief other than Islam" such as Bibles , was reportedly punishable by death.

Saudi Wahhabism is hostile to any reverence given to historical or religious places of significance for fear that it may give rise to 'shirk' idolatry , and the most significant historic Muslim sites in Mecca and Medina are located in the western Saudi region of Hejaz.

In June , the Council of Ministers approved a law that gives the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage the means to protect Saudi Arabia's ancient relics and historic sites. Within the framework of the National Transformation Program, also known as Saudi Vision , the kingdom allocated million euros to preserve its historical and cultural heritage. Saudi Arabian dress strictly follows the principles of hijab the Islamic principle of modesty , especially in dress.

The predominantly loose and flowing, but covering, garments are suited to Saudi Arabia's desert climate. Traditionally, men usually wear a white ankle length garment woven from wool or cotton known as a thawb , with a keffiyeh a large checkered square of cotton held in place by an agal or a ghutra a plain white square made of finer cotton, also held in place by an agal worn on the head. For rare chilly days, Saudi men wear a camel -hair cloak bisht over the top.

In public women are required to wear a black abaya or other black clothing that covers everything under the neck with the exception of their hands and feet, although most women cover their head in respect for their religion.

This requirement applies to non-Muslim women too and failure to abide can result in police action, particularly in more conservative areas of the country. Women's clothes are often decorated with tribal motifs, coins, sequins, metallic thread, and appliques.

During the s, cinemas were numerous in the Kingdom although they were seen as contrary to Wahhabi norms. From the 18th century onward, Wahhabi fundamentalism discouraged artistic development inconsistent with its teaching.

In addition, Sunni Islamic prohibition of creating representations of people have limited the visual arts, which tend to be dominated by geometric , floral , and abstract designs and by calligraphy.

With the advent of oil-wealth in the 20th century came exposure to outside influences, such as Western housing styles, furnishings, and clothes.

Music and dance have always been part of Saudi life. Traditional music is generally associated with poetry and is sung collectively. Censorship has limited the development of Saudi literature, although several Saudi novelists and poets have achieved critical and popular acclaim in the Arab world—albeit generating official hostility in their home country. Football is the national sport in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabia national football team is considered as one of Asia's most successful national teams, having reached a joint record 6 AFC Asian Cup finals, winning three of those finals , , and and having qualified for the World Cup four consecutive times ever since debuting at the tournament.

Scuba diving , windsurfing , sailing and basketball which is played by both men and women are also popular with the Saudi Arabian national basketball team winning bronze at the Asian Championship. A stadium in Riyadh holds races in the winter. The annual King's Camel Race, begun in , is one of the sport's most important contests and attracts animals and riders from throughout the region.

Falconry , another traditional pursuit, is still practiced. Women's sport is controversial due to the suppression of female participation in sport by conservative Islamic religious authorities, [] however this restriction has eased slightly in recent years. Segregated seating, allowing women to enter, has been developed in three stadiums across major cities. Saudi Arabian cuisine is similar to that of the surrounding countries in the Arabian Peninsula and the wider Arab world, and has influenced and been influenced by Turkish, Indian, Persian, and African food.

Islamic dietary laws are enforced: Flat, unleavened taboon bread is a staple of virtually every meal, as are dates , fresh fruit, yoghurt and hummus. Coffee, served in the Arabic style , is the traditional beverage but tea and various fruit juices are popular as well. The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Arabia.

Women do not have equal rights to men in the kingdom; the U. State Department considers Saudi Arabian government's discrimination against women a "significant problem" in Saudi Arabia and notes that women have few political rights due to the government's discriminatory policies.

Under Saudi law, every adult female must have a male relative as her "guardian" wali , [] As of , a woman was required to have permission from her male guardian in order to travel, study, or work.

The order however also stated that it should only be allowed if it doesn't contradict the Sharia system. According to a leading Saudi feminist and journalist, Wajeha al-Huwaider , "Saudi women are weak, no matter how high their status, even the 'pampered' ones among them, because they have no law to protect them from attack by anyone.

Women face discrimination in the courts, where the testimony of one man equals that of two women in family and inheritance law. The average age at first marriage among Saudi females is 25 years in Saudi Arabia, [] with child marriage no longer common. Obesity is a problem among middle and upper class Saudis who have domestic servants to do traditional work but, until , were forbidden to drive and so are limited in their ability to leave their home.

The religious police , known as the mutawa , impose many restrictions on women in public in Saudi Arabia. Although Saudi Arabia imposes a strict dress code on women throughout the country by using religious police , female anchors working for Al-Arabia news network which is partly owned by Prince Abdulaziz , the son of the late King Fahad , are prohibited from wearing a veil and are encouraged to adopt a Western dress code. A few Saudi women have risen to the top of the medical profession; for example, Dr.

Ghada Al-Mutairi heads a medical research center in California [] and Dr. On 25 September , King Abdullah announced that Saudi women would gain the right to vote and to be candidates in municipal elections, provided that a male guardian grants permission.

In August , a law was passed that criminalized domestic violence against women. In April , bin Salman announced a project to build one of the world's largest cultural, sports and entertainment cities in Al Qidiya, southwest of Riyadh. The square kilometre city will include a safari and a Six Flags theme park. As of February , Saudi women can now open their own business, without a male's permission. In March a law was passed allowing Saudi mothers to retain custody of their children after divorce without having to file any lawsuits.

In April the first public cinema opened in Saudi Arabia after a ban of 35 years, with plans to have more than 2, screens running by In June , King Salman issued a decree allowing women to drive , lifting the world's only ban on women drivers. Other domestic reforms include significant regulations restricting the powers of the religious police and establishing a national entertainment authority that has hosted comedy shows, pro wrestling events, and monster truck rallies.

Further cultural developments include the first Saudi public concerts by a female singer, the first Saudi sports stadiums to admit women, and an increased presence of women in the workforce. Education is free at all levels. The school system is composed of elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools. A large part of the curriculum at all levels is devoted to Islam, and, at the secondary level, students are able to follow either a religious or a technical track. The rate of literacy is Higher education has expanded rapidly, with large numbers of Universities and colleges being founded particularly since Institutions of higher education include the country's first university, King Saud University founded in , the Islamic University at Medina founded in , and the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah founded in Other colleges and universities emphasize curricula in sciences and technology, military studies, religion, and medicine.

Institutes devoted to Islamic studies, in particular, abound. Women typically receive college instruction in segregated institutions. The Academic Ranking of World Universities , known as Shanghai Ranking, ranked 4 of Saudi Arabian institutions among its — list of the top universities in the world. According to critics, Saudi curriculum is not just dominated by Islam but suffers from Wahhabi dogma that propagates hatred towards non-Muslim and non-Wahhabis [] and lacks technical and other education useful for productive employment.

Memorization by rote of large parts of the Qur'an, its interpretation and understanding Tafsir and the application of Islamic tradition to everyday life is at the core of the curriculum. Religion taught in this manner is also a compulsory subject for all University students.

That's not generally what Saudi Arabia's educational system delivers, steeped as it is in rote learning and religious instruction.

The religious sector of the Saudi national curriculum was examined in a report by Freedom House which concluded that "the Saudi public school religious curriculum continues to propagate an ideology of hate toward the 'unbeliever', that is, Christians, Jews, Shiites, Sufis, Sunni Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine, Hindus , atheists and others". This radical teaching takes place in Saudi funded mosques and madrasas across the Islamic world from Morocco to Pakistan to Indonesia.

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Saudi woman fleeing family temporarily admitted to Thailand. Reprieve for Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who wants to claim asylum in Australia. Australia urged to help Saudi teenager barricaded inside Thai hotel room. Yemen 08 Jan Lack of specific orders results in continued fighting around Red Sea port city of Hodeidah as day deadline expires.

Saudi Arabia 07 Jan After seven weeks of investigation, the former top aide to Saudi Crown Prince is still missing, Washington Post reports. Video footage shows men handcuffed, lined up for deportation to Bangladesh, where they will become refugees. Opinion 07 Jan Netflix's decision to take down an episode of Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act show sets a bad precedent.

Thailand 07 Jan Teenager seeking passage to asylum in Australia claims she was abused by her family and fears death if repatriated. Rahaf Alqunun, 18, has appealed for asylum saying she was abused by her family and fears death if repatriated. Saudi Arabia 06 Jan The new law, which came into effect on Sunday, is being seen as a way to end secret divorces and protect their rights.

Stories abound of thing arriving months after they were sent or never arriving at all. The king of Saudi Arabia shows some reformist credentials".

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The Red Sea also contains many offshore reefs including several true atolls. However, there are important reasons to think twice about car rental.

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