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The History of Saudi Arabia

The History of Saudi Arabia

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Published by sv swamy
brief history of kingdom of Saudi Arabia
brief history of kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Published by: sv swamy on Feb 04, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/07/2011

 
The History of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia traces its roots back to the earliestcivilizations of the Arabian Peninsula. Over thecenturies, the peninsula has played an importantrole in history as an ancient trade center and as thebirthplace of Islam, one of the worlds majormonotheistic religions.Since King Abdulaziz Al-Saud established themodern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, its transformation has beenastonishing.In a few short decades, the Kingdom has turned itself from a desert nation toa modern, sophisticated state and a major player on the international stage.
Early History
The first concrete evidence of human presence in the ArabianPeninsula dates back 15,000 to 20,000 years. Bands of hunter-gatherers roamed the land, living off wild animals and plants.
 
As the European ice cap melted during the last Ice Age, some 15,000years ago, the climate in the peninsula became dry. Vast plains oncecovered with lush grasslands gave way to scrubland and deserts, andwild animals vanished. River systems also disappeared, leaving in theirwake the dry river beds (wadis) that are found in the peninsula today.
 
This climate change forced humans to move into the lush mountainvalleys and oases. No longer able to survive as hunter-gatherers, theyhad to develop another means of survival. As a result, agriculturedeveloped first in Mesopotamia, then the Nile River Valley, andeventually spreading across the Middle East.The development of agriculture brought other advances. Potteryallowed farmers to store food. Animals, including goats, cattle, sheep,horses and camels, were domesticated, and people abandoned huntingaltogether. These advances made intensive farming possible. In turn,settlements became more permanent, leading to the foundations of what we call civilization language, writing, political systems, art andarchitecture.
An Ancient Trade Center
 Located between the two great centers of civilization, the Nile River
 
Valley and Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsulawas the crossroads of the ancient world. Tradewas crucial to the areas development; caravanroutes became trade arteries that made lifepossible in the sparsely populated peninsula.
 
The people of the peninsula developed acomplex network of trade routes to transportagricultural goods highly sought after in Mesopotamia, the Nile Valleyand the Mediterranean Basin. These items included almonds fromTaif, dates from the many oases, and aromatics such as frankincenseand myrrh from the Tihama plain.
 
Spices were also important trade items. They were shipped across theArabian Sea from India and then transported by caravan.
 
The huge caravans traveled from what is now Oman and Yemen, alongthe great trade routes running through Saudi Arabias Asir Province andthen through Makkah and Madinah, eventually arriving at the urbancenters of the north and west.The people of the Arabian Peninsula remained largely untouched bythe political turmoil in Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and the easternMediterranean. Their goods and services were in great demandregardless of which power was dominant at the moment Babylon,Egypt, Persia, Greece or Rome. In addition, the peninsulas greatexpanse of desert formed a natural barrier that protected it frominvasion by powerful neighbors.
 
The Birth of Islam
 Around the year 610, Muhammad, a native of the thriving commercialcenter of Makkah, received a message from God (in Arabic, Allah)through the Angel Gabriel. As more revelations bid him to proclaim theoneness of God universally, the Prophet Muhammads following grew.In 622, learning of an assassination plot against him, the Prophet ledhis followers to the town of Yathrib, which was later named MadinatAl-Nabi (City of the Prophet) and now known simply as Madinah. Thiswas the Hijrah, or migration, which marks the beginning of the Islamiccalendar.
 
Within the next few years, several battles took place between thefollowers of the Prophet Muhammad and the pagans of Makkah. By
 
628, when Madinah was entirely in the handsof the Muslims, the Prophet had unified thetribes so successfully that he and his followersreentered Makkah without bloodshed.
The Islamic Empire
 Less than 100 years after the birth of Islam,the Islamic Empire extended from Spain toparts of India and China. Although the political centers of power hadmoved out of the Arabian Peninsula, trade flourished in the area.Also, a large number of pilgrims began regularly visiting the peninsula,with some settling in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Thesepilgrims facilitated the exchange of ideas and cultures between thepeople of the peninsula and other civilizations of the Arab and Muslimworlds.
 
The emergence of Arabic as the language of international learning wasanother major factor in the cultural development of the ArabianPeninsula. The Muslim world became a center for learning andscientific advances during what is known as the Golden Age. Muslimscholars made major contributions in many fields, including medicine,biology, philosophy, astronomy, arts and literature. Many of the ideasand methods pioneered by Muslim scholars became the foundation of modern sciences.
 
The Islamic Empire thrived well into the 17th century, when it brokeup into smaller Muslim kingdoms. The Arabian Peninsula graduallyentered a period of relative isolation, although Makkah and Madinahremained the spiritual heart of the Islamic world and continued toattract pilgrims from many countries.
 
The First Saudi State
 In the early 18th century, a Muslim scholar and reformer namedShaikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab began advocating a return tothe original form of Islam. Abdul Wahhab was initially persecuted bylocal religious scholars and leaders who viewed his teachings as athreat to their power bases. He sought protection in the town of Diriyah, which was ruled by Muhammad bin Saud.Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud formed anagreement to dedicate themselves to restoring the pure teachings of Islam to the Muslim community. In that spirit, bin Saud establishedthe First Saudi State, which prospered under the spiritual guidance of 

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