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Saudi Arabia

Key Figures | Reference Map | General Information | Demography | Geography | Political Background | Economy | Disaster and response preparedness measures | Humanitarian response operations | History of Disasters | Sources

Key Figures  
Total population : 33.4 Million (2018)
Area : 2,149,690 km²
Major languages : Arabic (Official)
Number of provinces : 13 provinces
GDP : $646 billion USD
GDP per capita : 20,028.6 USD
Average life expectancy : 75.5 years
Human Development Index : Index - 0.853, Rank - 39
Literacy rate : 94.7%, (age 15 and over can read and write),male: 97%, female: 91.1% (2015 est.)
Currency : Riyal


Saudi Arabia Interactive Humanitarian Map


General information
Saudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is the second largest Arab state (the first is Algeria) and comprises the majority of the Arabian Peninsula. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud. The country receives a large number of foreigners who are Muslims every year for the Islamic practices of Haj and Umrah, which are among the five pillars of Islam and must be conducted at least once in a lifetime.

The population of Saudi Arabia is divided among different age groups. The 0-14 age group contains the median amount of the population, comprising 32.4% of the total. The middle age group of 15-64 makes up the greatest share of the total population - about 64.8%. The 65+ age group comprises 2.8% of the total population. The population is expected to reach 39.1 million by the end 2030, and is predicted to reach 47.7 million by 2060. The population of Saudi Arabia has a growth rate of 1.49%. Until the 1960s, most of the population was nomadic or seminomadic; due to rapid economic and urban growth, more than 95% of the population is now settled.

Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south. It is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast and most of its terrain consists of arid desert and mountains.

Political background
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. However, according to the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia adopted by royal decree in 1992, the king must comply with Sharia (Islamic law) and the Quran, while the Quran and the Sunnah (the traditions of Muhammad) are declared to be the country's constitution. No political parties or national elections are permitted. The king combines legislative, executive, and judicial functions and royal decrees form the basis of the country's legislation. The king is also the prime minister, and presides over the Council of Ministers of Saudi Arabia and Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabi has 13 provinces, (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah (Northern Border), Al Jawf, Al Madinah (Medina), Al Qasim, Ar Riyad (Riyadh), Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jazan, Makkah (Mecca), Najran and Tabuk.

The economy of Saudi Arabia is dependent on oil and has strong government control over major economic activities. Saudi oil reserves are the second largest in the world, and Saudi Arabia is the world's leading oil exporter and second largest producer. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of Saudi budget revenues, 90% of export earnings, and 42% of GDP. Another 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. An estimated 7.5 (2013) million foreigners work legally in Saudi Arabia, playing a crucial role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. The government has encouraged private sector growth for many years to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil, and to increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population. Saudi Arabia has natural resources other than oil, including small mineral deposits of gold, silver, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, tungsten, lead, sulphur, phosphate, soapstone and feldspar. The country has a small agricultural sector, primarily in the southwest where annual rainfall averages 400 mm (16"). The country is one of the world's largest producers of dates.

Disaster and response preparedness measures
Saudi Arabia has taken steps to advance disaster risk management (DRM). The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment is responsible for disaster risk reduction efforts, while the Civil Defense Ministry of Interior is responsible for emergency planning and response. In 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OCHA to enhance joint coordination, promote information sharing, improve disaster preparedness and response and engage in joint emergency relief operations.
Saudi Red Crescent Authority provides emergency medical services in five administrative regions of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was founded in 1963. In 2014 it trained its staff and volunteers on Sphere Technical Sectors Minimum Standards in order to enrich their technical knowledge and skills in topics related to Emergencies and Disaster Management. Saudi Arabia is a member of the Top Donors Group (TDG) for Syria and participates in international humanitarian cooperation forums such as the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) system.

Humanitarian response operations
Saudi Arabia has gained visibility for its humanitarian efforts through funding substantial initiatives in the Arab and Muslim world, based on charitable giving as Zakat and Sadaqa. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is the leading GCC country in development and humanitarian assistance in terms of engagement and contributions. In 2017, Saudi Arabia donated more than 400 million USD to disaster response operations around the globe. More than half of this donations were given to organizations on bilateral basis. Until July 2018, Saudi government has donated more than 770 million USD to humanitarian responses with majority of the donations going to Yemen humanitarian response plan.

King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre(KSRC) was established by the Saudi government in May 2015 with the main objective to coordinate between all relevant governmental and non-governmental parties inside KSA and unify relief activities outside KSA. The Centre dedicates special attention to Yemen Crisis as a first priority. Until Feb 2018, KSRC has has implemented 328 projects in 38 countries, with particular focus on Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Somalia. OCHA collaborated with KSRC on developing their strategic humanitarian response plans as well as on a joint action plan on joint capacity building and information sharing activities.

Other humanitarian organizations include Saudi National Campaign(SNC), International Islamic Relief Organization of Saudi Arabia (IIROSA)and Alwaleed Philanthropies.  SNC is a fund-raising mechanism for humanitarian activities. IIROSA has a significant Emergency Relief Programme which aims to provide humanitarian relief and emergency relief to the victims of natural disasters and conflicts. Alwaleed Philanthropies is a charity founded in 2003 by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. Nowadays, it consists of three philanthropic organizations – one national, one global and one dedicated to Lebanon. In September 2014, Alwaleed Philanthropies held the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) National Consultation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Humanitarian Forum (UK) and OCHA.

History of disasters
Saudi Arabia is vulnerable to a number of natural hazards, including coastal and river floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, and water scarcity. Over the past three decades, the country has recorded 14 natural disasters, affecting nearly 30,000 people and resulting in economic losses of approximately $450 million.
Flooding is the most common natural hazard. In 2009 and 2011, flash floods in the city of Jeddah were registered as the worst floods in 30 years. A GFDRR-supported assessment identified unplanned urban development as the main cause of damage and loss.
While no major earthquakes have been recorded on Saudi Arabia’s soil in the past 50 years, the country has been affected by earthquakes in its neighborhoods. The earthquakes of 1982 North Yemen and 1995 Gulf of Aqaba affected the people of Saudi Arabia and has caused economic losses to the country.

General Authority of Statistics - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Central Intelligence Agency Factbook, Wikipedia, The World Bank, World Population Review, United Nations Development Program, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery