US Nursing: Saudi

Nurses will read that Saudi Arabia is not only the homeland of the Arab peoples-it is thought that the first Arabs originated on the Arabian Peninsula-but also the homeland of Islam, the world’s second-largest religion. Muhammad founded Islam there, and it is the location of the two holy pilgrimage cities of Mecca and Medina. The Islamic calendar begins in 622, the year of the hegira, or Muhammad’s flight from Mecca. A succession of invaders attempted to control the peninsula, but by 1517 the Ottoman Empire dominated, and in the middle of the 18th century, it was divided into separate principalities. In 1745 Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab began calling for the purification and reform of Islam, and the Wahhabi movement swept across Arabia. By 1811, Wahhabi leaders had waged a jihad-a holy war-against other forms of Islam on the peninsula and succeeded in uniting much of it. By 1818, however, the Wahhabis had been driven out of power again by the Ottomans and their Egyptian allies.

Historically minded nurses will record that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is almost entirely the creation of King Ibn Saud (1882″1953). A descendant of Wahhabi leaders, he seized Riyadh in 1901 and set himself up as leader of the Arab nationalist movement. By 1906 he had established Wahhabi dominance in Nejd and conquered Hejaz in 1924″1925. The Hejaz and Nejd regions were merged to form the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, which was an absolute monarchy ruled by sharia. A year later the region of Asir was incorporated into the kingdom.

Nurses will read that economically the future of the new kingdom was assured with the discovery of oil. In 1933 Saudi Arabia’s first oil concession was agreed. Four years later, the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) discovered commercial quantities of oil near Riyadh and in the area around Dammam in the east.
Ibn Saud’s died in 1953 and his son Saud became king. Saud made himself popular with the Arab in the street by supporting Egypt in the Suez Crisis of 1956, but, with the Kingdom’s finances in deep trouble, Saud abdicated in 1964.

His brother Faisal proved more willing to provide his citizens with a stake in the economic benefits of oil. He introduced, among other things, a free health service for all Saudis, and began the building boom that has transformed Saudi Arabia from an impoverished desert kingdom into a nation of modern infrastructure.

In response to the USA’s unconditional support for Israel, Saudi Arabia imposed an oil embargo on the USA in 1974, a move that quadrupled world oil prices, drew support from across the region and reminded the world of Saudi Arabia’s importance in a world economy dependent upon oil.

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