Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Occupying most of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia covers an area about the size of Western Europe, nearly 2 million sq km (757,000 sq miles) and has a population expected to reach 26 million in 2005. For more than five millennia Nomadic peoples have lived in Arabia, making a life in the arid and semi arid desert which covers 95% of the country. Ancient Sumerians and Egyptians had influence in the costal area nearest the Red Sea. During the seventh century Muhammad and his successors began unifying the Arab peoples. The modern history of Saudi Arabia dates from the 1740s when a severe branch of Islam was adopted by the Wahhabi Movement. With the discovery of oil near Riyadh in 1937 Saudi Arabia was thrust into the modern world. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy with an advisory Consultative Council.
One-quarter of the world’s oil reserves are found within Saudi Arabia’s borders accounting for three-quarters of the nation’s budget revenue, more than one-third of its gross domestic product and nine-tenths of its export earnings. As many as 4 million foreign workers are employed in the petroleum industry. Current efforts are under way to encourage non-oil exports. Another major factor in the Saudi economy and culture is as the custodian of Islam’s most holy places, Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad, and Medina, the place where Islam was born. Each year an average of two million pilgrims visit Mecca contributing significantly to the national income. The citizens of Saudi Arabia are nearly 100% Muslim, 89% Sunni and 8% Shiite.
Because Islam and Islamic Law is strictly enforced in Saudi Arabia any story of the Stone-Campbell Movement there must be told quietly and confidentially. Several expatriates on assignment in the country are known to congregate together for worship and fellowship. There are four known congregations of the a cappella Churches of Christ in Saudi Arabia. White Field Evangelism of the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ has had contact in Saudi Arabia through one of its International Bible School teachers. Through this correspondence at least one family has been led to Christ and has been baptized.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see:
Any Christian anticipating working in Saudi Arabia may contact Allen Thyssen of the American a cappella Churches of Christ for information:
7414 Holly Court Estates Drive
Houston, TX 77095