Saudi Arabia: A Unique Culture Saudi Arabia: A Unique Culture The birthplace of Islam, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is home to some 12,300,000 citizens and an additional four and half million resident foreigners. These non-citizens from predominantly Arab-speakingArab-speaking nations such as Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, comprise almost two thirds of the Saudi Arabian workforce. That being said, Saudi Arabia’s economic engine runs on the fuel of foreign indentured servitude and the sense of entitlement that Saudi Arabian citizens maintain and has become a way of life; a culture all to its own. This culture has evolved over time from the discovery and exploitation of rich fossil oil deposits; oil that has created one of the richest countries in the world. All about the Oil In 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia became a unified country under King Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud (Lippman, & Myers, 2004). Prior to this date, the country was divided into three tribal regions of Najd, Hijaz, and Asir and their dependencies. Development of the oil industry in the eastern Saudi Arabia spurred a fragmented cultural change that, with the aid of Americans, eventually “mechanized, computerized, electrified, paved, air-conditioned” (Lippman, & Myers, 2004), and revolutionized the country. It wasn’t until the discovery of rich oil fields and the subsequent exploitation of those riches that the citizens of Saudi Arabia became a nation of wealth. From nomadic Bedouins whose country was a mere strategic ally in World War II sprang a people who fully embraced the modern and lavish lifestyles of American oil workers. The Saudis had gone from an impoverished culture to a super-rich one just as if it had received a dead relative’s large inheritance and it went to their heads. Cultural Clash The House of Saud’s (the founders of the Kingdom) direct descendants are the rulers of Saudi Arabia, however they have no legitimate claim to the country despite their historic battle prowess of the early 1900s. Sharia (Islamic law) is the law in Saudi Arabia; “the state exists to promote, protect and promulgate Islam” (Cole, 2010). The fact that the monarchies of Saudi Arabia have always upheld Sharia law has kept them in power. The king, “whose title is Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” (Cole, 2010) faces no greater challenge than upholding these religious credentials.
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