|Saudi Arabia +33,335,377 (2017)|
United States 567,511 (2013)
|Egypt 1,771,894 (2016)|
United Kingdom 98,604
Saudis (Arabic: سعوديون Suʿūdiyyūn), or Saudi Arabians are a nation and ethnic group native to Saudi Arabia that share a common Saudi culture and speak one of the national languages of Saudi Arabia, including most numerously the Peninsular Arabic language and accent, as a mother tongue. According to the 2010 census, ethnic Saudis represent 19,335,377 or 74.1% of the total population. The Saudis speak Peninsular Arabic or the Southern Arabic variety. Saudi Arabia is a state governed by absolute monarchy, with the king as its head of state.
Map of Saudi Arabia
The ethnic Saudi population as of the 2010 census was 19,335,377 making up 74.1% of the total population. The remaining population has 6,755,178 non-nationals representing 25.9%. S Saudis by region:
Until the 1960s, most of the population was nomadic or seminomadic; due to rapid economic and urban growth, more than 95% of the population now is settled. 80% of Saudis live in three major urban centers—Riyadh, Jeddah, or Dammam. Some cities and oases have densities of more than 1,000 people per square kilometer (2,600/mile²). Saudi Arabia's population is characterized by rapid growth and a large cohort of youths.
DNA tests of Y chromosomes from representative sample of Saudis were analyzed for composition and frequencies of haplogroups, a plurality (42%) belong to Haplogroup J-M267 (Y-DNA). Other frequent haplogroups are J-M172 (14%), E1-M2 (8%), R1-M17 (5%) and T-M184 (5%).
Most Saudis are ethnically Arab of whom they immigrated as pilgrims and reside in the Hijaz region along the Red Sea coast such as Jeddah, Mecca and Medina. According to a random survey, most would-be Saudis come from the Subcontinent and Arab countries. Many Arabs from nearby countries are employed in the kingdom. There also are significant numbers of Asian expatriates mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was also a significant community of South Korean migrant labourers, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, but most have since returned home; the South Korean government's statistics showed only 1,200 of their nationals living in the kingdom as of 2005. There are more than 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia, most of whom live in private compounds in the major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran. The government prohibits non-Muslims from entering the cities of Mecca and Medinah.
The cultural setting of Saudi Arabia is Arab and Islam, and is deeply religious, conservative, traditional, and family oriented. Many attitudes and traditions are centuries-old, derived from Arab civilization. The Salafi Islamic movement, which arose in the 18th century and is sometimes described as austerely puritanical, now predominates in the country. Following the principle of "enjoining good and forbidding wrong", there are many limitations on behaviour and dress are strictly enforced both legally and socially, often more so than in other Muslim countries. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited, for example, and there is no theatre or public exhibition of films.
Daily life is dominated by Islamic observance. Five times each day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques scattered throughout the country. Because Friday is the holiest day for Muslims, the weekend is Friday-Saturday. In accordance with Salafi doctrine, only two religious holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, were publicly recognized, until 2006 when a non-religious holiday, the 23 September national holiday (which commemorates the unification of the kingdom) was reintroduced.
Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its law requires that all citizens be Muslims. The government does not legally protect the freedom of religion. Any overseas national attempting to acquire Saudi nationality must convert to Islam. Saudi Arabia has been criticized for its implementation of Islamic law and its poor human rights record.
The official form of Islam is Sunni of the Hanbali school, in its Salafi version. According to official statistics, 85-90% of Saudi citizens are Sunni Muslims, 10-15% are Shia. (More than 30% of the population is made up of foreign workers who are predominantly but not entirely Muslim.) It is unknown how many Ahmadi there are in the country. The two holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, are in Saudi Arabia. For many reasons, non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the holy cities although some Western non-Muslims have been able to enter, disguised as Muslims.
The large number of foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia (8 million expatriates out of a total population of 27 million) includes non-Muslims. Irreligious population also exists in Saudi Arabia. Although there is no official published statistics by the Saudi government, according to a Gallup poll, 5% of Saudi Arabians are atheists.
Policy of exclusion
According to scholar Bernard Lewis, the Saudi Arabian policy of excluding non-Muslims from permanent residence in the country is a continuation of an old and widely accepted Muslim policy.
The classical Arabic historians tell us that in the year 20 after the hijra (Muhammad's move from Mecca to Medina), corresponding to 641 of the Christian calendar, the Caliph Umar decreed that Jews and Christians should be removed from Arabia to fulfill an injunction the Prophet uttered on his deathbed: "Let there not be two religions in Arabia." The people in question were the Jews of the oasis of Khaybar in the north and the Christians of Najran in the south.
[The hadith] was generally accepted as authentic, and Umar put it into effect. ... Compared with European expulsions, Umar's decree was both limited and compassionate. It did not include southern and southeastern Arabia, which were not seen as part of Islam's holy land. ... the Jews and Christians of Arabia were resettled on lands assigned to them -- the Jews in Syria, the Christians in Iraq. The process was also gradual rather than sudden, and there are reports of Jews and Christians remaining in Khaybar and Najran for some time after Umar's edict.
While Saudi Arabia does allow non-Muslims to live in Saudi Arabia to work, they may not practice religion publicly. According to the government of the United Kingdom:
The public practice of any form of religion other than Islam is illegal; as is an intention to convert others. However, the Saudi authorities accept the private practice of religions other than Islam, and you can bring a Bible into the country as long as it is for your personal use. Importing larger quantities than this can carry severe penalties.