chapter  46
3 Pages


Saudi Arabia had taken its present shape by 1934. From a base among the Wahabi (puritan) Arabs of the Nejd, the Saud family had extended its power over the Hasa, Hejaz and Asir regions. From 1939 on, the oilfields in Hasa turned a desert country into the world’s biggest oil exporter (3, 41). The Saudis often subsidized other Arab states (and, for a long time, the PLO [43] ). After the big oil price rises in the 1970s, their decisions about output, and about investment of their oil revenues, affected the world economy. Saudi Arabia remained a traditionalist country – the guardian of Islam’s holiest place, Mecca (28). Pilgrimages to Mecca were disrupted in the 1980s by Iranians who staged demonstrations there; after violent clashes, the Saudis limited the number of pilgrims from Iran, which launched bitter anti-Saudi propaganda campaigns.