Saudi Arabia - Country history and economic development



1745. Muhammad Abd Al-Wahhab, a religious reformer, allies with Muhammad bin Saud, a local ruler, and the 2 begin a religious/military campaign to unite the Arabian Peninsula under a new brand of strict Islamic law. They and their followers are known as Saudis.

1801. Saudi forces capture Mecca, an important religious site.

1805. Saudi forces capture Medina, another important religious site. The Ottoman Turkish government, which rules the region, launches a campaign to drive Saudi forces out of Arabia. By 1818 the Saudis have lost most of the territory previously captured and eventually take up exile in Kuwait.

1902. The Saudis renew their efforts to unify Arabia. King Abdul Aziz Al Saud (later known as Ibn Saud) recaptures Riyadh, the Al Saud ancestral home, from the Al Rashid, who are ruling in Arabia with Turkish support.

1932. Present-day Saudi Arabia is consolidated under Ibn Saud's rule. Ibn Saud declares himself king.

1953. Ibn Saud dies, leaving his kingdom to his surviving sons. His eldest son, Saud, becomes king and establishes the Council of Ministers, an advisory body made up of members of the royal family.

1962. Civil war breaks out in Yemen between Royalists and Republicans. Egypt backs the Republicans while Saudi Arabia backs the Royalists. Tensions between Egypt and Saudi Arabia are high over the next 5 years until 1967, when Egyptian forces withdraw from Yemen.

1964. King Saud steps down in favor of his half brother Faisal bin Abdul Aziz.

1967. War breaks out between Israel and 4 Arab nations, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. Saudi Arabia sits out the war, but later provides economic assistance to Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.

1973. War erupts once again between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producers boycott the sale of oil to the United States to protest American financial aid to Israel. The price of oil rises steeply, but Saudi Arabian earnings still suffer due to loss of sales to the West.

1974. Despite Arab opposition, Saudi Arabia abandons the 1973 boycott, negotiating an economic and military cooperation agreement with the United States whereby the United States provides the kingdom with military protection in return for the guaranteed flow of oil. Saudi wealth begins to grow rapidly, heightening its political and economic influence throughout the world.

1975. King Faisal is assassinated. He is succeeded by his half brother, Crown Prince Khalid. Another half brother, Fahd, is appointed crown prince and first deputy prime minister.

1979. Armed religious militants take over the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The 250 men, followers of the Sunni Muslim cleric Juhaiman Ibn Seif al-Oteibi, are removed by force. The incident alerts the royal family to growing dissatisfaction in the kingdom among religious conservatives. In response, the government establishes a committee to lay out a system of societal laws based on Islamic principles.

1982. King Khalid dies and is succeeded by Crown Prince Fahd. Fahd becomes a key player in Middle East politics.

1988. A Saudi-brokered cease fire is declared in the 8-year-old Iran-Iraq war, bringing stability to the Middle East.

1990. Iraq invades Kuwait, drawing international condemnation and starting the Gulf War. The UN places an embargo on Iraqi oil. The cut in world supply causes oil prices to rise. Saudi Arabia begins to increase production to help meet world demand. King Fahd helps organize and hold together the coalition of Arab military forces which, in conjunction with a large contingent of U.S. forces, drives Iraq from Kuwait.

1995. King Fahd suffers a stroke. Over the next 2 years, Crown Prince Abdullah emerges as the de facto head of state.

1996. A car bomb explodes outside U.S. military housing at the Al Khobar military base in Eastern Province, killing 19 American servicemen. Responsibility is linked to Osama bin Laden, a Saudi dissident claiming to resent the Western presence on Saudi soil.

1999. Saudi Arabia cuts oil production by over 2 million barrels a day to boost prices.

2000. New laws are passed to facilitate foreign investment.

2001. Saudi Arabia and Iran sign a security pact pledging cooperation in combatting terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering .

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