Saudi Arabia traces its roots back to the earliest
civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula. Over the
centuries, the peninsula has played an important role in
history as an ancient trade center and as the birthplace
of Islam, one of the world’s major monotheistic
Since King Abdulaziz Al-Saud established the modern
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, its transformation has
In a few short decades, the Kingdom has turned itself
from a desert nation to a modern, sophisticated state
and a major player on the international stage.
The first concrete evidence of
human presence in the Arabian Peninsula dates back
15,000 to 20,000 years. Bands of hunter-gatherers roamed
the land, living off wild animals and plants.
As the European ice cap melted during the last Ice Age,
some 15,000 years ago, the climate in the peninsula
became dry. Vast plains once covered with lush
grasslands gave way to scrubland and deserts, and wild
animals vanished. River systems also disappeared,
leaving in their wake the dry river beds (wadis) that
are found in the peninsula today.
This climate change forced humans to move into the lush
mountain valleys and oases. No longer able to survive as
hunter-gatherers, they had to develop another means of
survival. As a result, agriculture developed – first in
Mesopotamia, then the Nile River Valley, and eventually
spreading across the Middle East.
The development of agriculture brought other advances.
Pottery allowed farmers to store food. Animals,
including goats, cattle, sheep, horses and camels, were
domesticated, and people abandoned hunting altogether.
These advances made intensive farming possible. In turn,
settlements became more permanent, leading to the
foundations of what we call civilization – language,
writing, political systems, art and architecture.
An Ancient Trade Center
Located between the two great
centers of civilization, the Nile River Valley and
Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula was the crossroads of
the ancient world. Trade was crucial to the area’s
development; caravan routes became trade arteries that
made life possible in the sparsely populated peninsula.
The people of the peninsula developed a complex network
of trade routes to transport agricultural goods highly
sought after in Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and the
Mediterranean Basin. These items included almonds from
Taif, dates from the many oases, and aromatics such as
frankincense and myrrh from the Tihama plain.
Spices were also important trade items. They were
shipped across the Arabian Sea from India and then
transported by caravan.
The huge caravans traveled from what is now Oman and
Yemen, along the great trade routes running through
Saudi Arabia’s Asir Province and then through Makkah and
Madinah, eventually arriving at the urban centers of the
north and west.
The people of the Arabian Peninsula remained largely
untouched by the political turmoil in Mesopotamia, the
Nile Valley and the eastern Mediterranean. Their goods
and services were in great demand regardless of which
power was dominant at the moment – Babylon, Egypt,
Persia, Greece or Rome. In addition, the peninsula’s
great expanse of desert formed a natural barrier that
protected it from invasion by powerful neighbors.
The Birth of Islam
Around the year 610, Muhammad, a
native of the thriving commercial center of Makkah,
received a message from God (in Arabic, Allah) through
the Angel Gabriel. As more revelations bid him to
proclaim the oneness of God universally, the Prophet
Muhammad’s following grew.
In 622, learning of an assassination plot against him,
the Prophet led his followers to the town of Yathrib,
which was later named Madinat Al-Nabi (City of the
Prophet) and now known simply as Madinah. This was the
Hijrah, or migration, which marks the beginning of the
Within the next few years, several battles took place
between the followers of the Prophet Muhammad and the
pagans of Makkah. By 628, when Madinah was entirely in
the hands of the Muslims, the Prophet had unified the
tribes so successfully that he and his followers
reentered Makkah without bloodshed.
The Islamic Empire
Less than 100 years after the birth of Islam, the
Islamic Empire extended from Spain to parts of India and
China. Although the political centers of power had moved
out of the Arabian Peninsula, trade flourished in the
Also, a large number of pilgrims began regularly
visiting the peninsula, with some settling in the two
holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. These pilgrims
facilitated the exchange of ideas and cultures between
the people of the peninsula and other civilizations of
the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The emergence of Arabic as the language of international
learning was another major factor in the cultural
development of the Arabian Peninsula. The Muslim world
became a center for learning and scientific advances
during what is known as the “Golden Age.” Muslim
scholars made major contributions in many fields,
including medicine, biology, philosophy, astronomy, arts
and literature. Many of the ideas and methods pioneered
by Muslim scholars became the foundation of modern
The Islamic Empire thrived well into the 17th century,
when it broke up into smaller Muslim kingdoms. The
Arabian Peninsula gradually entered a period of relative
isolation, although Makkah and Madinah remained the
spiritual heart of the Islamic world and continued to
attract pilgrims from many countries.
The First Saudi State
In the early 18th century, a
Muslim scholar and reformer named Shaikh Muhammad bin
Abdul Wahhab began advocating a return to the original
form of Islam. Abdul Wahhab was initially persecuted by
local religious scholars and leaders who viewed his
teachings as a threat to their power bases. He sought
protection in the town of Diriyah, which was ruled by
Muhammad bin Saud.
Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud formed
an agreement to dedicate themselves to restoring the
pure teachings of Islam to the Muslim community. In that
spirit, bin Saud established the First Saudi State,
which prospered under the spiritual guidance of bin
Abdul Wahhab, known simply as the Shaikh.
By 1788, the Saudi State ruled over the entire central
plateau known as the Najd. By the early 19th century,
its rule extended to most of the Arabian Peninsula,
including Makkah and Madinah.
The popularity and success of the Al-Saud rulers aroused
the suspicion of the Ottoman Empire, the dominant power
in the Middle East and North Africa at the time. In
1818, the Ottomans dispatched a large expeditionary
force armed with modern artillery to the western region
of Arabia. The Ottoman army besieged Diriyah, which by
now had grown into one of the largest cities in the
peninsula. Ottoman forces leveled the city with field
guns and made it permanently uninhabitable by ruining
the wells and uprooting date palms.
The Second Saudi State
By 1824, the Al-Saud family had
regained political control of central Arabia. The Saudi
ruler Turki bin Abdullah Al-Saud transferred his capital
to Riyadh, some 20 miles south of Diriyah, and
established the Second Saudi State. During his 11-year
rule, Turki succeeded in retaking most of the lands lost
to the Ottomans. As he expanded his rule, he took steps
to ensure that his people enjoyed rights, and he saw to
Under Turki and his son, Faisal, the Second Saudi State
enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity, and trade and
agriculture flourished. The calm was shattered in 1865
by a renewed Ottoman campaign to extend its Middle
Eastern empire into the Arabian Peninsula. Ottoman
armies captured parts of the Saudi State, which was
ruled at the time by Faisal’s son, Abdulrahman. With the
support of the Ottomans, the Al-Rashid family of Hail
made a concerted effort to overthrow the Saudi State.
Faced with a much larger and better equipped army,
Abdulrahman bin Faisal Al-Saud was forced to abandon his
struggle in 1891. He sought refuge with the Bedouin
tribes in the vast sand desert of eastern Arabia known
as the Rub’ Al-Khali, or ‘Empty Quarter.’ From there,
Abdulrahman and his family traveled to Kuwait, where
they stayed until 1902. With him was his young son
Abdulaziz, who was already making his mark as a natural
leader and a fierce warrior for the cause of Islam.
The Modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The young Abdulaziz was determined
to regain his patrimony from the Al-Rashid family, which
had taken over Riyadh and established a governor and
garrison there. In 1902, Abdulaziz, – accompanied by
only 40 followers – staged a daring night march into
Riyadh to retake the city garrison, known as the Masmak
Fortress. This legendary event marks the beginning of
the formation of the modern Saudi state.
After establishing Riyadh as his headquarters, Abdulaziz
captured all of the Hijaz, including Makkah and Madinah,
in 1924 to 1925. In the process, he united warring
tribes into one nation.
On September 23, 1932, the country was named the Kingdom
of Saudi Arabia, an Islamic state with Arabic as its
national language and the Holy Qur’an as its
King Abdulaziz (1932-1953)
The legendary King Abdulaziz was a
remarkable leader of imagination and vision who set
Saudi Arabia on the road to modernization. During his
rule, King Abdulaziz started building the country’s
infrastructure. He established roads and basic
communications systems, introduced modern technology,
and improved education, health care and agriculture.
Although King Abdulaziz never traveled beyond the Arab
world, he was a highly sophisticated statesman. Foreign
leaders and diplomats who met with him came away
impressed by his integrity and honesty. He was famous
for dispensing with diplomatic niceties in favor of
frank and candid discussion. He was just as well known
for keeping his promises, whether given to a simple
Bedouin or to a world leader. These qualities enhanced
his stature as a reliable and responsible leader
dedicated to peace and justice.
King Saud (1953-1964)
Abdulaziz’ eldest son Saud acceded
to the throne upon his father’s death in 1953. He
continued King Abdulaziz’s legacy, creating the Council
of Ministers and establishing the Ministries of Health,
Education and Commerce. One of King Saud’s greatest
successes was the development of education – under his
rule many schools were established in the Kingdom,
including its first institute of higher education, King
Saud University, in 1957.
King Saud also made his mark globally. In 1957, he
became the first Saudi monarch to visit the United
States. In 1962 he sponsored an international Islamic
conference that would become the Muslim World League,
headquartered in Makkah.
King Faisal (1964-1975)
King Faisal bin Abdulaziz was a
visionary innovator with a great respect for tradition.
He initiated the first of a series of economic and
social development plans that would transform Saudi
Arabia’s infrastructure, especially industry, and set
the Kingdom on a path of rapid growth. He also
established the first public schools for girls.
In foreign policy, King Faisal showed a firm commitment
to the Islamic world. He was a central force behind the
establishment in Jeddah in 1971 of the Organization of
the Islamic Conference (OIC), a group of 56 Islamic
countries that promotes Islamic unity and cooperation.
Throughout the turbulent period of the 1960s and 1970s,
which included two Arab-Israeli wars and the oil crisis
of 1973, King Faisal was a voice for moderation, peace
King Khalid (1975-1982)
Khalid bin Abdulaziz succeeded
King Faisal in 1975. King Khalid also emphasized
development, and his reign was marked by an almost
explosive growth in the country’s physical
infrastructure. It was a period of enormous wealth and
prosperity for Saudi Arabia.
On the international stage, King Khalid was a prime
mover in forming the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in
1981, an organization that promotes economic and
security cooperation among its six member countries:
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates
and Saudi Arabia.
King Fahd (1982-2005)
Under King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, who
adopted the title Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,
Saudi Arabia continued its tremendous socioeconomic
development and emerged as a leading political and
King Fahd was central to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to
diversify its economy and promote private enterprise and
investment. He restructured the Saudi government and
approved the first nationwide municipal elections, which
took place in 2005.
One of King Fahd’s greatest accomplishments in Saudi
Arabia was a series of projects to expand the Kingdom’s
facilities to accommodate the millions of pilgrims who
come to the country each year. These projects involved
major expansions of Islam’s two holiest sites, the Holy
Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as
well as airports and ports.
In the international arena, King Fahd worked actively to
resolve regional and global crises. These crises
included the Arab-Palestinian conflict, Iraq’s invasion
of Kuwait, the Lebanese civil war in addition to
conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Chechnya,
Afghanistan, Somalia and Kashmir.
As Crown Prince in 1981, he proposed an eight-point plan
to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and give the
Palestinians an independent state. The plan was
considered one of the first attempts to find a just and
lasting settlement that took into consideration the
needs of both the Arabs and Israel. It was unanimously
adopted by the Arab League at a summit in Fez, Morocco
King Fahd also dedicated years of diplomacy to resolving
the civil war in Lebanon. He hosted a meeting of
Lebanese members of parliament in Taif, Saudi Arabia in
1989. The meeting resulted in a national reconciliation
accord signed in Taif that ended the fighting and opened
the way for reconstruction with help from Saudi Arabia
and other Arab countries.
Perhaps the greatest international crisis of King Fahd’s
rule occurred when Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2,
1990. The King played a key role in putting together the
international coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of
King Fahd was also concerned with humanitarian issues.
Under his rule, Saudi Arabia provided emergency
humanitarian assistance to numerous countries, including
Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, as well as countries
suffering from natural disasters, such as earthquakes
(Turkey in 1999, Iran in 2003) and the tsunami that
struck Southeast Asia in December 2004.
King Abdullah (2005 - )
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz acceded to the throne after
the death of King Fahd on August 1, 2005.
King Abdullah was born in Riyadh in 1924, and received
his early education at the royal court. Influenced by
his father King Abdulaziz, he developed a profound
respect for religion, history and Arab heritage. His
years spent living in the desert with Bedouin tribes
taught him their values of honor, simplicity, generosity
and bravery, and instilled in him the desire to assist
in the development of his people.
As Crown Prince, he traveled widely in the Kingdom and
inaugurated a number of projects throughout the country.
In 2005 he closely monitored the election process for
the country’s municipal councils.
The Prince’s first official visit to the United States
was in 1976 when he met with President Gerald Ford.
Since then, he has made a number of visits to the United
States, including his most recent on April 25, 2005 to
President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.
His international diplomacy reflects Saudi Arabia’s
leadership role in defense of Arab and Islamic issues
and for the achievement of world peace, stability and
security. Peace in the Middle East and the plight of the
Palestinians are of particular concern to King Abdullah.
His proposal for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace,
presented at the Beirut Arab Summit in 2002, has been
adopted by the League of Arab States and is known as the
Arab Peace Initiative.
King Abdullah has been unwavering in his condemnation of
terrorism. At the International Counterterrorism
Conference in Riyadh in February, 2005, he called for
greater international cooperation to fight this global
Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz
When he became King in August 2005, Custodian of the Two
Holy Mosques King Abdullah appointed his brother Prince
Sultan bin Abdulaziz as Crown Prince. Crown Prince
Sultan is also Minister of Defense and Aviation, and the
Prince Sultan was born in Riyadh in 1928, and, like his
brothers, received his early education in religion,
modern culture and diplomacy at the royal court. After
serving as Governor of Riyadh Province from 1947 to
1953, he became the Kingdom’s first Minister of
Agriculture. In 1955, he became Minister of
Communications, and contributed greatly to the
development of the Kingdom’s road, rail and
telecommunications networks. He has been Minister of
Defense and Aviation since 1963.
Prince Sultan serves as chairman of a number of
organizations, including the National Commission for
Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD), the Saudi
Arabian Railways Organization (SRO), the Higher Council
for Islamic Affairs, and the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz
Charity Foundation. He has made a number of official
visits overseas, and led the Saudi delegation to the
40th, 50th and 60th sessions of the United Nations
General Assembly in 1985, 1995 and 2005.
During official visits to the United States in October
1995, February 1997, and November 1999 Prince Sultan met
with President Bill Clinton and a number of US
Saudi Arabia is our
strategic partner which is rooted in culture,
shared values and common faith. Close
geographical propinquity, historic trade ties,
religious acquaintance and the economic support
have created a strong ties based on trust and
mutual respect between the two countries.
Recently, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani
visited to Saudi Arabia and met with the
Custodian of two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin
Abdul Aziz and discussed on variety of bilateral
and regional issues. A broad consensus was
reached on enhancing Pakistan-Saudi Arabia
partnership based on comprehensive cooperation.
Both sides expressed the wish to enhance
mutually beneficial cooperation and work closely
to safeguard the stability and peace in the
region and Islamic world.
King Abdullah bin Abdul
Aziz reaffirmed that Pakistan was a key member
of the Ummah and a close friend of the Kingdom.
“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are one country; they
are more than friends and more than brothers.
In recent extensive diplomatic spells between
the two countries, Saudi leadership reaffirmed
its commitment towards Pakistan’s cause and
assured that it will continue its cooperation
and assistance to Pakistan in all the fields and
even agreed to enhance bilateral trade. The
government of Pakistan also sought Saudi Arabia
support for early finalization of Pakistan-GCC
Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Matters relating to
foreign direct investment, finance, trade,
defence and export of manpower from Pakistan
were also thoroughly discussed. Over 1.5 million
Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia and it
was also agreed that Pakistan would send more
trained manpower for the development of Saudi
Arabia. Moreover, Saudi leadership agreed to
provide financial support for the construction
of Bhasha Diamir Dam and also assured to extend
help for other energy projects.
President Asif Ali Zardari and King Abdullah of
Saudi Arabia agreed to work with greater
cooperation in the wake of major developments in
the region. The two leaders held extensive
discussions on bilateral ties, situation in the
Middle East and South Asia and the fight against
militancy. The issues related to Iran,
Afghanistan, situation in Bahrain and its
security implications for the region came under
discussion during the meeting.
National political scientists, regional
strategists and international security experts
termed President Zardari’s visit as significant
because it immediately follows his visits to
Iran and Afghanistan. According to them it is
all about the ‘end game’ in the Afghan war, the
turmoil in Bahrain and worsening relations
between Saudi Arabia and Iran and the President
Zardari’s visit is being seen as an effort to
evolve a joint strategy on these sensitive
It seems that the recent regional geo-political
and geo-strategic developments have played
important role bringing both the countries
closer than they were about a year ago. The
government of Pakistan has been doing track-II
diplomacy for the last few months to bring Saudi
Arabia and Iran on board and achieve regional
harmony and greater peace.
Saudi Arabia has been helping Pakistan in many
fields since 1947. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are
leading members of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC). Saudi Arabia supported
Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and encouraged
both the countries to start confidence building
measures. It openly opposed partition of
Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. Both the
countries were at same wave-length at the time
of Afghan War and remained closed allies
fighting against communism during 1980s. During
the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, Pakistan on
request, sent troops to protect the Islamic holy
sites in Saudi Arabia. Both the countries played
important role in recognition of Taliban rule in
Afghanistan. Pakistan offered its political,
moral and diplomatic support on many regional
Islamic and international issues.
Saudi Arabia came to our rescue even in May 1998
(nuclear test) and promised to supply 50,000
barrels per day of free oil to help Pakistan
cope with likely economic sanctions in the
Saudi Arabia extended its humanitarian
assistance on many times of natural calamities
in the country. Saudi Arabia donated SR245
billion between 1973 and 1993, which equals 5.5
percent of its average annual production during
that period. In recent years, both countries
have exchanged high-level delegations and
developed plans to expand bilateral cooperation
in trade, education, real estate, tourism,
information technology, communications and
Saudi Arabia has provided assistance in form of
fuel donation, fuel credit. Both the countries
strongly advocate dialogue among cultures,
civilizations and faiths, so as to remove
misperceptions among the followers of different
faiths. Saudi Arabia has been among the first
countries to acknowledge Pakistan as a newly
developed country and extended a helping hand to
strengthen its development drive.
Exports to Saudi Arabia Principal items Rice,
ready made garments, cotton fabrics, synthetic
fabrics, made up textiles, tents and canvas,
fruits and vegetables, spices, towels, carpets
and rugs, sports goods, fish and fish
preparations, handicrafts, leather manufactures
and printed matters Imports from Saudi Arabia
Crude petroleum, polythene, plastic moulding
powder, aluminum waste, urea, dates, copper wire
and rods, ships and boats, ether and its
derivatives, chemicals machines, paper waste,
parts of aircraft and sulphur.
Saudi Arabia is among the 15 export partners of
Pakistan with which bilateral trade volume has
gone above US$ 4 billion per annum and it would
be further increased in future.
It is strongly recommended that cargo flights
between both of the countries should be
increased to save extra tax expenditure as well
as quality of a product. There should be close
coordination and information sharing between the
local business community and the Saudi business
men to further boost trade in the fields of
surgical instruments, furniture, leather goods,
fruit and vegetable. Simplification of the visa
process would further facilitate the business
community in the country. Moreover, there were
350 Pakistani investors in the Saudi Arabia have
already obtained licenses from Saudi Arabian
General Investment Authority and have
established companies in various fields.
Pakistan has very close and longstanding
relationship with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has
already invested substantially in some Pakistani
key sectors of the economy and basic industries
which are given below as: Saudi Arabia is
interested in investing in Pakistan’s energy and
infrastructure, key production industries,
banking, irrigation, energy, fertilizer and port
development like Mirpur Mathelo Fertilizer
Plant, Pipri Thermal Power Project, Tarbela Dam
repairs, Port Qasim etc
Since form the beginning, both the countries
maintain close military ties by providing
extensive support, arms and training for the
military of Saudi Arabia. Pilots of the Pakistan
Air Force flew aircraft of the Royal Saudi Air
Force to deter an raid from South Yemen in 1969.
In the 1970s and 1980s, approximately 15,000
Pakistani soldiers were stood tall in Saudi
Arabia. Saudi Arabia showed great interests to
purchase of Pakistani ballistic missiles capable
of carrying nuclear warheads. Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia have information mechanism on different
Pakistan-Saudi Arabia alliance would guarantee
larger regional conciliation and stronger ties
of survival, production and socio-economic
prosperity. Generosity of Saudi Arabia,
mediation of Pakistan hold the key of success.
‘The brotherly ties between Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia based on bedrock of Islamic solidarity
provide a model for other nations to emulate’.
Since independence of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has
remained a faithful friend that has cooperated
in various fields and never left Pakistan alone
in ups and downs. The Saudi Arabs generous
assistance of $573 million during 2005
million for the rehabilitation of Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Swat-Malakand in
September 2009 and $300 million for the flood
victims are the empirical evidences that
determine the sincerity of one of the faithful
friend. Saudi is also a member of the Friends of
Democratic Pakistan’ group. Similarly, Pakistan
values and respects this cordial and trusted
relation. Although, two countries do not share
any geographical boundary with each other,
despite that the socio-cultural, religious
particularly spiritual knots are working as a
deep binding force between two countries. Some
diabolical forces wanted to create a gap between
the friendship of two countries through the
assassination of Mr. Hassan Al Qahtani in
Karachi, but the strong relation, made them
unsuccessful in their heinous strategy. The
leaders of two countries clearly showed their
unity and gave a message of friendship. This
trust has set an example of others.
It is hoped that two countries will show their
full cooperation and coordination and take every
possible step to defeat the diabolical forces.
They will also cooperate in social, economic,
political development. Their cooperation will
further strengthen the bilateral relations of
two countries and set an example of other
countries to follow.