Area: 2,240,000 sq km
The main portion of the Arabian Peninsula; almost entirely desert, but contains 25% of the world’s known oil reserves.
Population: 26,245,969 Annual Growth: 2.14%
Official language: Arabic Languages: 20 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
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The nation faces great stresses. Under increasing pressure, the aging leadership must walk the impossible path between those pushing for liberalization and those demanding stricter Islamization. The following challenges need prayer:
a) Economic. Over-reliance on oil exports and foreign labour has taken its toll the growing gap between rich and poor, and widespread unemployment and discontent among the spoiled younger generation, often push them into the arms of extremism. The Saudi-ization of the economy results in more difficult conditions for expats as well as pressure to create hundreds of thousands of new and acceptable jobs for Saudis. Spiraling personal debt and the need for personal connections to secure a desirable job add to the financial stress for many.
b) Social. Strict Islamic laws keep the nation in a stranglehold. The most controversial and contradictory issue is that of womens rights. Driving, voting, working, even going out are prohibited or severely restricted for women. Despite harsh societal restrictions, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual immorality and HIV/AIDS are hidden but real problems.
c) Military. Although the government can point to several successes, the battle between the military and Islamist terrorists intensifies with each year. The presence of Western military forces rankles many.
Massive Islamic missionary efforts are coordinated by the Muslim World League in Mecca. Every year, billions of oil dollars are spent around the world to propagate Islam especially the virulent Wahhabist brand native to Saudi Arabia. Investments to expand Islam include giving aid to sympathetic countries, building mosques, sending missionaries, distributing literature and, more recently, funding Western academic institutions with the condition that a centre for Islamic studies must be built. Islamic materials promoting hatred of non-Muslims are shipped to the West. The Saudi government, while denying to Christians the liberty to share their faith, demands this liberty for Muslims living elsewhere. Some of the worlds largest printing presses are in Saudi, churning out 30 million Qurans annually for worldwide distribution.
For an additional 7 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Saudi Arabia.