A. THE COUNTRY
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Asia, is the largest Arab country of the
Middle East. The Kingdom is sometimes called “The Land of the Two Holy
Mosques” in reference to Mecca and Medina, the two holiest places in
Islam. Saudi is an absolute monarchy and a semi-feudal state tightly
controlled by a large royal family. An advisory council is elected by
eligible Saudi males. Enormous oil wealth produces 75-90% of government
revenue. There is a growing gap between rich and poor. Unemployment is
high, largely due to Saudis’ disdain for certain types of jobs, and
there is massive reliance on the foreign labour force.
B. THE PEOPLE
The population is ~26,247,000. The official language is Arabic.
Saudi Arabia’s record on religious freedom and human rights is notorious
and probably the world’s worse. Abuses occur through a corrupt judicial
system and religious police. In particular, Islamic laws severely
restricts women’s rights. Despite harsh societal restrictions, alcohol
and drug abuse, sexual immorality and HIV/AIDS are hidden but real
problems. With a sizable expatriate presence, these figures are only
estimates: 80.4% Arab, 17.4% Asian, 1.5% African, 0.7% Westerners.
C. RELIGIONS AND CHRISTIANITY/PENTECOSTALISM
Most Saudis are Wahhabi Sunnis; Shi’ites make up to 8% and are
discriminated against. Every year, billions of oil dollars are spent
around the world to propagate Islam. People of other faiths may neither
practice their religion openly or gather privately. All non-Muslim
figures are estimates:
92.41% Muslim, 5.43% claim to be Christian, 0.78% Hindu, 0.66%
Non-religious, 0.42% Buddhist, 0.3% Other.
In the Christian category:
~4.67% are Catholic, ~0.29% Orthodox, ~0.23% Protestant, ~0.15%
Independent, ~0.03% Unaffiliated, ~0.01% Anglican, ~0.05% Other.
Evangelicals are ~0.3% of the population.
Charismatics are ~0.3% and of those, <0.1% are Pentecostals.
Operation World, Jason Mandryk. Colorado Springs: Biblica Publishing, 2010.