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  • Dhee Ayn in the Al-Baha region
  • Madain Saleh

During the ancient world, Arabia was a trade centre, with migrating caravans transporting goods, primarily spices, between Asia and Africa. The native inhabitants of the peninsula became renowned for their trade skills as well as their ability to navigate harsh terrains. In the early 7th century, the emergence of the Prophet Muhammad changed the trajectory of the Arabian Peninsula. In 610, the Prophet Muhammad received his divine revelations and founded Islam. He moved to Madinah in 622 during the hijrah and Madinah became the centre of his new Islamic Empire. He eventually conquered his birthplace Makkah (Mecca) and unified the many tribes of the Arabian Peninsula under Islam.

The Islamic Empire controlled the Middle East as well as much of North Africa, Europe, and Asia well through the Middle Ages. However, the Islamic Empire began to fracture in the Early Modern Era, leading to a breakup into various states. The first Saudi state was founded in Diriyah in 1727 and ruled by Muhammad bin Saud. The emergent Saudi state attracted the attention of the Ottoman Empire, which sieged Diriyah in 1818. The Al-Saud family moved the capital to Riyadh and founded the second Saudi state, which contended with the Ottomans for the next century.

The siege of Masmak Fortress in Riyadh in 1902 became a heroic touchstone for the country’s reunification, although it took until 1932 for the official formation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The discovery of petroleum in 1938 changed the nation’s trajectory once again and the oil boom of the 1970s and 80s completely remade the Saudi economy into the dominant economic and geopolitical power in the Middle East and one of the richest nations in the world. Saudi Vision 2030 is once again remaking the country as it seeks to diversity its culture and economy.

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