Saudi Arabia

  • Barry Turner
Part of the The Statesman’s Yearbook book series (SYBK)


Nomadic tribes have existed across the Arabian peninsula for thousands of years. The pre-Islamic period saw the development of civilizations based on trade in frankincense and spices, notably, from about the 12th century BC, the Minaeans in the southwest of what is now Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Sabaean and Himyarite kingdoms flourished from around 650 BC and 115 BC respectively, their loose federations of city states lasting until the 6th century AD. Although increased trade brought these civilizations into contact with the Roman and Persian empires—the two great regional powers before the advent of Islam—they remained, for the most part, politically independent. The Nabataeans, an Aramaic people whose capital was at Petra, modern-day Jordan, spread into northern Arabia over a period covering the 1st century BC and the 1st AD before annexation of their territory by Rome. Persian influence was prevalent along Arabia’s eastern coast, centred on Dilmun which covered parts of the mainland and the island of Bahrain.


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Further Reading

  1. Aarts, Paul, Saudi Arabia in the Balance: Political Economy, Society, Foreign Affairs. New York Univ. Press, 2006Google Scholar
  2. Al-Rasheed, Madawi, A History of Saudi Arabia. CUP, 2002Google Scholar
  3. Al-Rasheed, Madawi and Vitalis, Robert (eds.) Counter-Narratives: History, Contemporary Society, and Politics in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2004Google Scholar
  4. Azzam, H., Saudi Arabia: Economic Trends, Business Environment and Investment Opportunities. London, 1993Google Scholar
  5. Bradley, John R., Saudi Arabia Exposed. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2005Google Scholar
  6. Kostiner, J., The Making of Saudi Arabia: from Chieftaincy to Monarchical State. OUP, 1994Google Scholar
  7. Mackey, Sandra, The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom. Revised ed. W. W. Norton, New York, 2003Google Scholar
  8. Manea, Elham, Regional Politics in the Gulf: Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen. Saqi Books, London, 2005Google Scholar
  9. Peterson, J. E., Historical Dictionary of Saudi Arabia. Metuchen (NJ), 1994Google Scholar
  10. Wright, J. W. (ed.) Business and Economic Development in Saudi Arabia: Essays with Saudi Scholars. London, 1996Google Scholar
  11. National Statistical Office: Ministry of Economy and Planning, Central Department of Statistics and Information, Riyadh.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Turner

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