Saudi Arabia vs. United Arab Emirates

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Introduction

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Background

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam’s two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king’s official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman Al SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. One of his male descendants rules the country today, as required by the country’s 1992 Basic Law. Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong ongoing campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism.

From 2005 to 2015, King ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud incrementally modernized the Kingdom. Driven by personal ideology and political pragmatism, he introduced a series of social and economic initiatives, including expanding employment and social opportunities for women, attracting foreign investment, increasing the role of the private sector in the economy, and discouraging businesses from hiring foreign workers. These reforms have accelerated under King SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz, who ascended to the throne in 2015, and has since lifted the Kingdom’s ban on women driving and allowed cinemas to operate for the first time in decades. Saudi Arabia saw some protests during the 2011 Arab Spring but not the level of bloodshed seen in protests elsewhere in the region. Shia Muslims in the Eastern Province protested primarily against the detention of political prisoners, endemic discrimination, and Bahraini and Saudi Government actions in Bahrain. Riyadh took a cautious but firm approach by arresting some protesters but releasing most of them quickly and by using its state-sponsored clerics to counter political and Islamist activism.

The government held its first-ever elections in 2005 and 2011, when Saudis went to the polls to elect municipal councilors. In December 2015, women were allowed to vote and stand as candidates for the first time in municipal council elections, with 19 women winning seats. After King SALMAN ascended to the throne in 2015, he placed the first next-generation prince, MUHAMMAD BIN NAYIF bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, in the line of succession as Crown Prince. He designated his son, MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, as the Deputy Crown Prince. In March 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of 10 countries in a military campaign to restore the legitimate government of Yemen, which had been ousted by Huthi forces allied with former president ALI ABDULLAH al-Salih. The war in Yemen has drawn international criticism for civilian casualties and its effect on the country’s dire humanitarian situation. In December 2015, then Deputy Crown Prince MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced Saudi Arabia would lead a 34-nation Islamic Coalition to fight terrorism (it has since grown to 41 nations). In May 2017, Saudi Arabia inaugurated the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology (also known as «Etidal») as part of its ongoing efforts to counter violent extremism. In June 2017, King SALMAN elevated MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN to Crown Prince.

The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds about 16% of the world’s proven oil reserves as of 2015. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia’s accession to the WTO in 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the Kingdom. In April 2016, the Saudi Government announced a broad set of socio-economic reforms, known as Vision 2030. Low global oil prices throughout 2015 and 2016 significantly lowered Saudi Arabia’s governmental revenue. In response, the government cut subsidies on water, electricity, and gasoline; reduced government employee compensation packages; and announced limited new land taxes. In coordination with OPEC and some key non-OPEC countries, Saudi Arabia agreed cut oil output in early 2017 to regulate supply and help elevate global prices.

The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states – Abu Dhabi, ‘Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn – merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra’s al Khaymah. The UAE’s per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. For more than three decades, oil and global finance drove the UAE’s economy. In 2008-09, the confluence of falling oil prices, collapsing real estate prices, and the international banking crisis hit the UAE especially hard. The UAE did not experience the «Arab Spring» unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East in 2010-11, partly because of the government’s multi-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure investment plan for the poorer northern emirates, and its aggressive pursuit of advocates of political reform. The UAE in recent years has played a growing role in regional affairs. In addition to donating billions of dollars in economic aid to help stabilize Egypt, the UAE was one of the first countries to join the Defeat-ISIS coalition, and is a key partner in a Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

Geography

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Location

Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen

Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia

Geographic coordinates

25 00 N, 45 00 E

24 00 N, 54 00 E

Map references

Middle East

Middle East

Area

total: 2,149,690 sq km

land: 2,149,690 sq km

water: 0 sq km

total: 83,600 sq km

land: 83,600 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area – comparative

slightly more than one-fifth the size of the US

slightly larger than South Carolina; slightly smaller than Maine

Land boundaries

total: 4,272 km

border countries (7): Iraq 811 km, Jordan 731 km, Kuwait 221 km, Oman 658 km, Qatar 87 km, UAE 457 km, Yemen 1307 km

total: 1,066 km

border countries (2): Oman 609 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km

Coastline

2,640 km

1,318 km

Maritime claims
Climate

harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes

desert; cooler in eastern mountains

Terrain

mostly sandy desert

flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert; mountains in east

Elevation extremes

mean elevation: 665 m

lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m

highest point: Jabal Sawda’ 3,133 m

mean elevation: 149 m

lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m

highest point: Jabal Yibir 1,527 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper

petroleum, natural gas

Land use

agricultural land: 80.7% (2011 est.)

arable land: 1.5% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0.1% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 79.1% (2011 est.)

forest: 0.5% (2011 est.)

other: 18.8% (2011 est.)

agricultural land: 4.6% (2011 est.)

arable land: 0.5% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0.5% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 3.6% (2011 est.)

forest: 3.8% (2011 est.)

other: 91.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

16,200 sq km (2012)

923 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

frequent sand and dust storms

Environment – current issues

desertification; depletion of underground water resources; the lack of perennial rivers or permanent water bodies has prompted the development of extensive seawater desalination facilities; coastal pollution from oil spills; air pollution; waste management

air pollution; rapid population growth and high energy demand contribute to water scarcity; lack of natural freshwater resources compensated by desalination plants; land degradation and desertification; waste generation, beach pollution from oil spills

Environment – international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography – note

Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river; extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea allow for considerable shipping (especially of crude oil) through the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal

strategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil

Population distribution

historically a population that was mostly nomadic or semi-nomadic, the Saudi population has become more settled since petroleum was discovered in the 1930s; most of the economic activities – and with it the country’s population – is concentrated in a wide area across the middle of the peninsula, from Ad Dammam in the east, through Riyadh in the interior, to Mecca-Medina in the west near the Red Sea

population is heavily concentrated to the northeast on the Musandam Peninsula; the three largest emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah – are home to nearly 85% of the population

Demographics

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Population

33,091,113 (July 2018 est.)

9,701,315 (July 2018 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.74% (male 4,348,227 /female 4,170,944)

15-24 years: 15.58% (male 2,707,229 /female 2,447,519)

25-54 years: 49.88% (male 9,951,080 /female 6,554,525)

55-64 years: 5.48% (male 1,112,743 /female 700,553)

65 years and over: 3.32% (male 586,606 /female 511,687) (2018 est.)

0-14 years: 14.39% (male 724,904 /female 671,524)

15-24 years: 7.64% (male 408,376 /female 332,986)

25-54 years: 70.45% (male 5,297,201 /female 1,537,300)

55-64 years: 6.05% (male 499,579 /female 87,037)

65 years and over: 1.47% (male 106,739 /female 35,669) (2018 est.)

Median age

total: 29.9 years (2018 est.)

male: 32.1 years

female: 27.2 years

total: 37.2 years (2018 est.)

male: 39 years

female: 31.1 years

Population growth rate

1.63% (2018 est.)

1.44% (2018 est.)

Birth rate

15.6 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)

9.8 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)

Death rate

3.3 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)

1.7 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)

Net migration rate

4.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)

6.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.11 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.52 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.59 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1.15 male(s)/female

total population: 1.3 male(s)/female (2018 est.)

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.23 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 3.45 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 5.74 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 2.99 male(s)/female

total population: 2.64 male(s)/female (2018 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 12.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)

male: 13 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 11.1 deaths/1,000 live births

total: 5.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)

male: 6 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 4.9 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.7 years (2018 est.)

male: 74.2 years

female: 77.3 years

total population: 78.7 years (2018 est.)

male: 77.3 years

female: 80.1 years

Total fertility rate

2.04 children born/woman (2018 est.)

1.73 children born/woman (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

<.1% (2016 est.)

NA

Nationality

noun: Saudi(s)

adjective: Saudi or Saudi Arabian

noun: Emirati(s)

adjective: Emirati

Ethnic groups

Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%

Emirati 11.6%, South Asian 59.4% (includes Indian 38.2%, Bangladeshi 9.5%, Pakistani 9.4%, other 2.3%), Egyptian 10.2%, Filipino 6.1%, other 12.8% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

8,200 (2016 est.)

NA

Religions

Muslim (official; citizens are 85-90% Sunni and 10-15% Shia), other (includes Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh) (2012 est.)

Muslim (official) 76%, Christian 9%, other (primarily Hindu and Buddhist, less than 5% of the population consists of Parsi, Baha’i, Druze, Sikh, Ahmadi, Ismaili, Dawoodi Bohra Muslim, and Jewish) 15% (2005 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths

<500 (2016 est.)

NA

Languages

Arabic (official)

Arabic (official), English, Hindi, Malayam, Urdu, Pashto, Tagalog, Persian

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 94.7%

male: 97%

female: 91.1% (2015 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 93.8%

male: 93.1%

female: 95.8% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 17 years

male: 18 years

female: 16 years (2014)

total: 14 years

male: 13 years

female: 14 years (2016)

Education expenditures

NA

NA

Urbanization

urban population: 84.1% of total population (2019)

rate of urbanization: 2.17% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

urban population: 86.8% of total population (2019)

rate of urbanization: 1.71% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97% of population

rural: 97% of population

total: 97% of population

unimproved: rural: 3% of population

total: 3% of population (2015 est.)

improved: urban: 99.6% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 99.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.4% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 100% of population (2015 est.)

total: 100% of population (2015 est.)

unimproved: urban: 0% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 0% of population (2015 est.)

total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

improved: urban: 98% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 95.2% of population (2015 est.)

total: 97.6% of population (2015 est.)

unimproved: urban: 2% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 4.8% of population (2015 est.)

total: 2.4% of population (2015 est.)

Major cities – population

7.071 million RIYADH (capital), 4.522 million Jeddah, 2.005 million Mecca, 1.459 million Medina, 1.225 million Ad Dammam (2019)

2.833 million Dubai, 1.629 million Sharjah, 1.452 million ABU DHABI (capital) (2019)

Maternal mortality rate

17 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

3 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Health expenditures

5.8% (2015)

3.5% (2015)

Physicians density

2.39 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

2.39 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

2.7 beds/1,000 population (2014)

1.2 beds/1,000 population (2013)

Obesity – adult prevalence rate

35.4% (2016)

31.7% (2016)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 40.9 (2015 est.)

youth dependency ratio: 36.6 (2015 est.)

elderly dependency ratio: 4.3 (2015 est.)

potential support ratio: 23.2 (2015 est.)

total dependency ratio: 17.4 (2015 est.)

youth dependency ratio: 16.2 (2015 est.)

elderly dependency ratio: 1.2 (2015 est.)

potential support ratio: 83.4 (2015 est.)

Government

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

conventional short form: Saudi Arabia

local long form: Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah

local short form: Al Arabiyah as Suudiyah

etymology: named after the ruling dynasty of the country, the House of Saud; the name «Arabia» can be traced back many centuries B.C., the ancient Egyptians referred to the region as «Ar Rabi»

conventional long form: United Arab Emirates

conventional short form: none

local long form: Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah

local short form: none

former: Trucial Oman, Trucial States

abbreviation: UAE

etymology: self-descriptive country name; the name «Arabia» can be traced back many centuries B.C., the ancient Egyptians referred to the region as «Ar Rabi»; «emirates» derives from «amir» the Arabic word for «commander,» «lord,» or «prince»

Government type

absolute monarchy

federation of monarchies

Capital

name: Riyadh

geographic coordinates: 24 39 N, 46 42 E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name derives from the Arabic word «riyadh,» meaning «gardens,» and refers to various oasis towns in the area that merged to form the city

name: Abu Dhabi

geographic coordinates: 24 28 N, 54 22 E

time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

13 regions (manatiq, singular – mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah (Northern Border), Al Jawf, Al Madinah al Munawwarah (Medina), Al Qasim, Ar Riyad (Riyadh), Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern), ‘Asir, Ha’il, Jazan, Makkah al Mukarramah (Mecca), Najran, Tabuk

7 emirates (imarat, singular – imarah); Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), ‘Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Dubayy (Dubai), Ra’s al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn

Independence

23 September 1932 (unification of the kingdom)

2 December 1971 (from the UK)

National holiday

Saudi National Day (Unification of the Kingdom), 23 September (1932)

Independence Day (National Day), 2 December (1971)

Constitution

history: 1 March 1992 – Basic Law of Government, issued by royal decree, serves as the constitutional framework and is based on the Qur’an and the life and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad

amendments: proposed by the king directly or proposed to the king by the Consultative Assembly or by the Council of Ministers; passage by the king through royal decree; Basic Law amended many times, last in 2005 (2016)

history: previous 1971 (provisional); latest drafted in 1979, became permanent May 1996

amendments: proposed by the Supreme Council and submitted to the Federal National Council; passage requires at least a two-thirds majority vote of Federal National Council members present and approval of the Supreme Council president; amended 2009 (2016)

Legal system

Islamic (sharia) legal system with some elements of Egyptian, French, and customary law; note – several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees

mixed legal system of Islamic (sharia) law and civil law

Suffrage

18 years of age; restricted to males; universal for municipal elections

limited; note – rulers of the seven emirates each select a proportion of voters for the Federal National Council (FNC) that together account for about 12 percent of Emirati citizens

Executive branch

chief of state: King and Prime Minister SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 23 January 2015); Crown Prince MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (born 31 August 1985); note – the monarch is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: King and Prime Minister SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since 23 January 2015); Crown Prince MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (born 31 August 1985)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the monarch every 4 years and includes many royal family members

elections/appointments: none; the monarchy is hereditary; an Allegiance Council created by royal decree in October 2006 established a committee of Saudi princes for a voice in selecting future Saudi kings

chief of state: President KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 2 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)

head of government: Prime Minister Vice President MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers SAIF bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan, MANSUR bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (both since 11 May 2009)

cabinet: Council of Ministers announced by the prime minister and approved by the president

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by the Federal Supreme Council – composed of the rulers of the 7 emirates – for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held 3 November 2009 (next election NA); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president

election results: KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan reelected president; FSC vote NA

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Consultative Council or Majlis al-Shura (150 seats; members appointed by the monarch to serve 4-year terms); note – in early 2013, the monarch granted women 30 seats on the Council

note: composition as of 2013 – men 121, women 30, percent of women 19.9%

description: unicameral Federal National Council (FNC) or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; 20 members indirectly elected using single non-transferable vote by an electoral college whose members are selected by each emirate ruler proportional to its FNC membership, and 20 members appointed by the rulers of the 7 constituent states; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held for indirectly elected members on 5 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2023)

election results: all candidates ran as independents; seats by emirate – Abu Dhabi 4, Dubai 4, Sharjah 3, Ras al-Khaimah 3, Ajman 2, Fujairah 2, Umm al-Quwain 2; composition (preliminary) – 13 men, 7 women, percent of elected women 35%; note – to attain overall FNC gender parity, 13 women and 7 men will be appointed; overall FNC percent of women 50%

Judicial branch

highest courts: High Court (consists of the court chief and is organized into circuits with 3-judge panels, except for the criminal circuit, which has a 5-judge panel for cases involving major punishments)

judge selection and term of office: High Court chief and chiefs of the High Court Circuits appointed by royal decree upon the recommendation of the Supreme Judiciary Council, a 10-member body of high-level judges and other judicial heads; new judges and assistant judges serve 1- and 2-year probations, respectively, before permanent assignment

subordinate courts: Court of Appeals; Specialized Criminal Court, first-degree courts composed of general, criminal, personal status, and commercial courts; Labor Court; a hierarchy of administrative courts

highest courts: Federal Supreme Court (consists of the court president and 4 judges; jurisdiction limited to federal cases)

judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the federal president following approval by the Federal Supreme Council, the highest executive and legislative authority consisting of the 7 emirate rulers; judges serve until retirement age or the expiry of their appointment terms

subordinate courts: Federal Court of Cassation (determines the constitutionality of laws promulgated at the federal and emirate level; federal level courts of first instance and appeals courts); the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Ra’s al Khaymah have parallel court systems; the other 4 emirates have incorporated their courts into the federal system; note – the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts and the Dubai International Financial Center Courts, the country’s two largest financial free zones, both adjudicate civil and commercial disputes.

Political parties and leaders

none

none; political parties are banned

International organization participation

ABEDA, AfDB (nonregional member), AFESD, AMF, BIS, CAEU, CP, FAO, G-20, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OAS (observer), OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

ABEDA, AfDB (nonregional member), AFESD, AMF, BIS, CAEU, CICA, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OIF (observer), OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

Ambassador Prinecss REEMA bint Bandar Al Saud (since 8 July 2019)

chancery: 601 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037

telephone: [1] (202) 342-3800

FAX: [1] (202) 944-5983

consulate(s) general: Houston, Los Angeles, New York

Ambassador Yusif bin Mani bin Said al-UTAYBA (since 28 July 2008)

chancery: 3522 International Court NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 243-2400

FAX: [1] (202) 243-2432

consulate(s) general: Boston, Los Angeles, New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador John P. ABIZAID (since 8 May 2019)

telephone: [966] (11) 488-3800

embassy: P.O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693

mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 61307, APO AE 09803-1307; International Mail: P. O. Box 94309, Riyadh 11693

FAX: [966] (11) 488-7360

consulate(s) general: Dhahran, Jiddah (Jeddah)

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Steven C. BONDY (since 22 March 2018)

telephone: [971] (2) 414-2200

embassy: Embassies District, Plot 38 Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, P. O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi

mailing address: P. O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi

FAX: [971] (2) 414-2603

consulate(s) general: Dubai

Flag description

green, a traditional color in Islamic flags, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script (translated as «There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God») above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); design dates to the early twentieth century and is closely associated with the Al Saud family, which established the kingdom in 1932; the flag is manufactured with differing obverse and reverse sides so that the Shahada reads – and the sword points – correctly from right to left on both sides

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a wider vertical red band on the hoist side; the flag incorporates all four Pan-Arab colors, which in this case represent fertility (green), neutrality (white), petroleum resources (black), and unity (red); red was the traditional color incorporated into all flags of the emirates before their unification

National anthem

name: «Aash Al Maleek» (Long Live Our Beloved King)

lyrics/music: Ibrahim KHAFAJI/Abdul Rahman al-KHATEEB

name: «Nashid al-watani al-imarati» (National Anthem of the UAE)

lyrics/music: AREF Al Sheikh Abdullah Al Hassan/Mohamad Abdel WAHAB

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

National symbol(s)

palm tree surmounting two crossed swords; national colors: green, white

golden falcon; national colors: green, white, black, red

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Saudi Arabia; a child born out of wedlock in Saudi Arabia to a Saudi mother and unknown father

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of the United Arab Emirates; if the father is unknown, the mother must be a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 30 years

Economy

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Economy – overview

Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 16% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.

Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. Approximately 6 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors; at the same time, however, Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its own nationals. Saudi officials are particularly focused on employing its large youth population.

In 2017, the Kingdom incurred a budget deficit estimated at 8.3% of GDP, which was financed by bond sales and drawing down reserves. Although the Kingdom can finance high deficits for several years by drawing down its considerable foreign assets or by borrowing, it has cut capital spending and reduced subsidies on electricity, water, and petroleum products and recently introduced a value-added tax of 5%. In January 2016, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced that Saudi Arabia intends to list shares of its state-owned petroleum company, ARAMCO – another move to increase revenue and outside investment. The government has also looked at privatization and diversification of the economy more closely in the wake of a diminished oil market. Historically, Saudi Arabia has focused diversification efforts on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors. More recently, the government has approached investors about expanding the role of the private sector in the health care, education and tourism industries. While Saudi Arabia has emphasized their goals of diversification for some time, current low oil prices may force the government to make more drastic changes ahead of their long-run timeline.

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP from the oil and gas sector to 30%.

Since the discovery of oil in the UAE nearly 60 years ago, the country has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. The country’s free trade zones – offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes – are helping to attract foreign investors.

The global financial crisis of 2008-09, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices constricted the economy in 2009. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Dubai hardest, as it was heavily exposed to depressed real estate prices. Dubai lacked sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations, prompting global concern about its solvency and ultimately a $20 billion bailout from the UAE Central Bank and Abu Dhabi Government that was refinanced in March 2014.

The UAE’s dependence on oil is a significant long-term challenge, although the UAE is one of the most diversified countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Low oil prices have prompted the UAE to cut expenditures, including on some social programs, but the UAE has sufficient assets in its sovereign investment funds to cover its deficits. The government reduced fuel subsidies in August 2015, and introduced excise taxes (50% on sweetened carbonated beverages and 100% on energy drinks and tobacco) in October 2017. A five-percent value-added tax was introduced in January 2018. The UAE’s strategic plan for the next few years focuses on economic diversification, promoting the UAE as a global trade and tourism hub, developing industry, and creating more job opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.775 trillion (2017 est.)

$1.79 trillion (2016 est.)

$1.761 trillion (2015 est.)

$696 billion (2017 est.)

$690.5 billion (2016 est.)

$670.5 billion (2015 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

-0.9% (2017 est.)

1.7% (2016 est.)

4.1% (2015 est.)

0.8% (2017 est.)

3% (2016 est.)

5.1% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$54,500 (2017 est.)

$56,400 (2016 est.)

$56,800 (2015 est.)

$68,600 (2017 est.)

$70,100 (2016 est.)

$70,000 (2015 est.)

GDP – composition by sector

agriculture: 2.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 44.2% (2017 est.)

services: 53.2% (2017 est.)

agriculture: 0.9% (2017 est.)

industry: 49.8% (2017 est.)

services: 49.2% (2017 est.)

Population below poverty line

NA

19.5% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.9% (2017 est.)

2% (2016 est.)

2% (2017 est.)

1.6% (2016 est.)

Labor force

13.8 million (2017 est.)

5.344 million (2017 est.)

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 6.7%

industry: 21.4%

services: 71.9% (2005 est.)

agriculture: 7%

industry: 15%

services: 78% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate

6% (2017 est.)

5.6% (2016 est.)

1.6% (2016 est.)

3.6% (2014 est.)

Budget

revenues: 181 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 241.8 billion (2017 est.)

revenues: 110.2 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 111.1 billion (2017 est.)

Industries

crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction

petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizer, commercial ship repair, construction materials, handicrafts, textiles

Industrial production growth rate

-2.4% (2017 est.)

1.8% (2017 est.)

Agriculture – products

wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk

dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish

Exports

$221.1 billion (2017 est.)

$183.6 billion (2016 est.)

$308.5 billion (2017 est.)

$298.6 billion (2016 est.)

Exports – commodities

petroleum and petroleum products 90% (2012 est.)

crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates (2012 est.)

Exports – partners

Japan 12.2%, China 11.7%, South Korea 9%, India 8.9%, US 8.3%, UAE 6.7%, Singapore 4.2% (2017)

India 10.1%, Iran 9.9%, Japan 9.3%, China 5.4%, Oman 5%, Switzerland 4.4%, South Korea 4.1% (2017)

Imports

$119.3 billion (2017 est.)

$127.8 billion (2016 est.)

$229.2 billion (2017 est.)

$226.5 billion (2016 est.)

Imports – commodities

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles

machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food

Imports – partners

China 15.4%, US 13.6%, UAE 6.5%, Germany 5.8%, Japan 4.1%, India 4.1%, South Korea 4% (2017)

China 8.5%, US 6.8%, India 6.6% (2017)

Debt – external

$205.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$189.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

$237.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$218.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Exchange rates

Saudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar –

3.75 (2017 est.)

3.75 (2016 est.)

3.75 (2015 est.)

3.75 (2014 est.)

3.75 (2013 est.)

Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar –

3.673 (2017 est.)

3.673 (2016 est.)

3.673 (2015 est.)

3.673 (2014 est.)

3.673 (2013 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

calendar year

Public debt

17.2% of GDP (2017 est.)

13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

19.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

20.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$496.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$535.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

$95.37 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$85.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Current Account Balance

$15.23 billion (2017 est.)

-$23.87 billion (2016 est.)

$26.47 billion (2017 est.)

$13.23 billion (2016 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$686.7 billion (2017 est.)

$382.6 billion (2017 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home

$264.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$258.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

$129.9 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$134.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad

$56.09 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$46.45 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

$124.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$114.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares
Central bank discount rate

2.5% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

8.3% (31 December 2017 est.)

7.1% (31 December 2016 est.)

6% (31 December 2017 est.)

5.7% (31 December 2016 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$267.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$219.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

$395.5 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$396 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$312.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$305.2 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

$134 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$129.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Stock of broad money
Taxes and other revenues

26.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

28.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-8.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

-0.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 24.2%

male: 17.4%

female: 46.3% (2016 est.)

total: 7.7%

male: 6%

female: 13.5% (2017 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: 41.3% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 24.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 4.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 34.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -28.6% (2017 est.)

household consumption: 34.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 12.3% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.8% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 100.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -72.4% (2017 est.)

Gross national saving

30.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

27.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

26.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

28.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

30.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

30.7% of GDP (2015 est.)

Energy

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Electricity – production

324.1 billion kWh (2016 est.)

121.8 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – consumption

296.2 billion kWh (2016 est.)

113.2 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – exports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – imports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

1.141 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Oil – production

10.425 million bbl/day (2018 est.)

3.216 million bbl/day (2018 est.)

Oil – imports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Oil – exports

7.341 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

2.552 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

Oil – proved reserves

266.2 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

97.8 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

8.619 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)

6.091 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)

Natural gas – production

109.3 billion cu m (2017 est.)

62.01 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

109.3 billion cu m (2017 est.)

74.48 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – exports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

7.504 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – imports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

20.22 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

82.94 million kW (2016 est.)

28.91 million kW (2016 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

99% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

2.476 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

943,500 bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

3.287 million bbl/day (2016 est.)

896,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

1.784 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

817,700 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

609,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)

392,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

657.1 million Mt (2017 est.)

289.4 million Mt (2017 est.)

Electricity access

electrification – total population: 99% (2017)

electrification – urban areas: 100% (2017)

electrification – rural areas: 98% (2017)

electrification – total population: 100% (2017)

Telecommunications

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Telephones – main lines in use

total subscriptions: 3,619,352

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2017 est.)

total subscriptions: 2,320,837

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 38 (2017 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 40,210,965

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 141 (2017 est.)

total subscriptions: 19,826,224

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 326 (2017 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern system including a combination of extensive microwave radio relays, coaxial cables, and fiber-optic cables; broadband is available with DSL, fibre, and wireless; mobile penetration is steep in Saudi Arabia; 4G/5G use in early 2019 (2018)

domestic: fixed-line 13 per 100 mobile-cellular subscribership has been increasing rapidly 141 per 100 persons (2018)

international: country code – 966; landing points for the SeaMeWe-3, -4, -5, AAE-1, EIG, FALCON, FEA, IMEWE, MENA/Gulf Bridge International, SEACOM, SAS-1, -2, GBICS/MENA, and the Tata TGN-Gulf submarine cables providing connectivity to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia ;microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; satellite earth stations – 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region) (2019)

general assessment: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai; 5G technology developing; two operators are competitive, but majority owned by the government; HSPA (high speed packet access) + LTE networks cover most of the population; low cost smart phones readily available; well-established fibre-broadband network provides future growth (2018)

domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber-optic and coaxial cable; fixed-line 38 per 100 and mobile-cellular 326 per 100 (2018)

international: country code – 971; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations – 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian)

Internet country code

.sa

.ae

Internet users

total: 20,768,456

percent of population: 73.8% (July 2016 est.)

total: 5,370,299

percent of population: 90.6% (July 2016 est.)

Broadcast media

broadcast media are state-controlled; state-run TV operates 4 networks; Saudi Arabia is a major market for pan-Arab satellite TV broadcasters; state-run radio operates several networks; multiple international broadcasters are available

except for the many organizations now operating in media free zones in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, most TV and radio stations remain government-owned; widespread use of satellite dishes provides access to pan-Arab and other international broadcasts; restrictions since June 2017 on some satellite channels and websites originating from or otherwise linked to Qatar (2018)

Transportation

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Roadways

total: 221,372 km (2006)

paved: 47,529 km (includes 3,891 km of expressways) (2006)

unpaved: 173,843 km (2006)

total: 4,080 km (2008)

paved: 4,080 km (includes 253 km of expressways) (2008)

Pipelines

209 km condensate, 2940 km gas, 1183 km liquid petroleum gas, 5117 km oil, 1151 km refined products (2013)

533 km condensate, 3277 km gas, 300 km liquid petroleum gas, 3287 km oil, 24 km oil/gas/water, 218 km refined products, 99 km water (2013)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Ad Dammam, Al Jubayl, Jeddah, King Abdulla, Yanbu’

container port(s) (TEUs): Ad Dammam (1,582,388), Jeddah (4,150,000), King Abdulla (1,695,322) (2017)

major seaport(s): Al Fujayrah, Mina’ Jabal ‘Ali (Dubai), Khor Fakkan (Khawr Fakkan) (Sharjah), Mubarraz Island (Abu Dhabi), Mina’ Rashid (Dubai), Mina’ Saqr (Ra’s al Khaymah)

container port(s) (TEUs): Dubai Port (15,368,000), Khor Fakkan (Khawr Fakkan) (Sharjah) (2,321,000) (2017)

LNG terminal(s) (export): Das Island

Merchant marine

total: 380

by type: bulk carrier 5, container ship 1, general cargo 19, oil tanker 65, other 290 (2018)

total: 616

by type: container ship 2, general cargo 103, oil tanker 22, other 489 (2018)

Airports

total: 214 (2013)

total: 43 (2013)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 82 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 33 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 16 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 27 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2017)

under 914 m: 4 (2017)

total: 25 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 12 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2013)

under 914 m: 2 (2013)

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 132 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 7 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 72 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 37 (2013)

under 914 m: 16 (2013)

total: 18 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 6 (2013)

under 914 m: 6 (2013)

Heliports

10 (2013)

5 (2013)

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 12 (2015)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 214 (2015)

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 32,778,827 (2015)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,783,086,000 mt-km (2015)

number of registered air carriers: 12 (2015)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 498 (2015)

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 84,738,479 (2015)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 16.647 billion mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

HZ (2016)

A6 (2016)

Military

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Military branches

Ministry of Defense: Royal Saudi Land Forces, Royal Saudi Naval Forces (includes marines, special forces, naval aviation), Royal Saudi Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces, Royal Saudi Strategic Missiles Force; Ministry of the National Guard (SANG); Ministry of Interior:  Border Guard, Facilities Security Force (2019)

Note:  SANG (also known as the White Army) is a land force separate from the Ministry of Defense that is responsible for internal security, protecting the royal family, and external defense

United Arab Emirates Armed Forces: Land Forces, Navy, Air Force, Presidential Guard, Joint Aviation Command; Ministry of Interior: Critical Infrastructure Coastal Patrol Agency (CICPA) (2019)

Military service age and obligation

17 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; no conscription; in 2018, women were allowed to serve as soldiers in the internal security services under certain requirements (2018)

18-30 years of age for compulsory military service for men; 17 years of age for male volunteers with parental approval; 24-month general service obligation, 16 months for secondary school graduates; women can volunteer to serve for 9 months regardless of education (2018)

Military expenditures – percent of GDP

8.78% of GDP (2018)

10.25% of GDP (2017)

9.87% of GDP (2016)

13.33% of GDP (2015)

10.68% of GDP (2014)

5.7% of GDP (2016)

5.64% of GDP (2014)

6.02% of GDP (2013)

5.08% of GDP (2012)

5.45% of GDP (2011)

Transnational Issues

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates
Disputes – international
Illicit drugs

regularly enforces the death penalty for drug traffickers, with foreigners being convicted and executed disproportionately; improving anti-money-laundering legislation and enforcement

the UAE is a drug transshipment point for traffickers given its proximity to Southwest Asian drug-producing countries; the UAE’s position as a major financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering; anti-money-laundering controls improving, but informal banking remains unregulated

Source: CIA Factbook

Source

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