Arabian Peninsula

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Arabian peninsula (Arabia)
Arabian Peninsula (orthographic projection).png
Area3.2 million km2 (1.25 million mi²)
Population77,983,936
Demonym Arabian
Countries Saudi Arabia
Yemen
Oman
United Arab Emirates
Kuwait
Qatar
Bahrain

The Arabian peninsula, simplified Arabia [1] ( /əˈrbiə/ ; Arabic : شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّةshibhu l-jazīrati l-ʿarabiyyah, 'Arabian island' or جَزِيرَةُ الْعَرَبjazīratu l-ʿarab, 'Island of the Arabs'), [2] is a peninsula of Western Asia situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian plate. From a geographical perspective, it is considered a subcontinent of Asia. [3]

Peninsula A piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland

A peninsula is a landform surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though not necessarily named as a single body of water. Peninsulas are not always named as such; one can also be a headland, cape, island promontory, bill, point, or spit. A point is generally considered a tapering piece of land projecting into a body of water that is less prominent than a cape. A river which courses through a very tight meander is also sometimes said to form a "peninsula" within the loop of water. In English, the plural versions of peninsula are peninsulas and, less commonly, peninsulae.

Western Asia westernmost portion of Asia

Western Asia, West Asia, Southwestern Asia or Southwest Asia is the westernmost subregion of Asia. The concept is in limited use, as it significantly overlaps with the Middle East, the main difference usually being the exclusion of the majority of Egypt and the inclusion of the Caucasus. The term is sometimes used for the purposes of grouping countries in statistics. The total population of Western Asia is an estimated 300 million as of 2015. Although the term "Western Asia" is mostly used as a convenient division of contemporary sovereign states into a manageable number of world regions for statistical purposes, it is sometimes used instead of the more geopolitical term "Middle East".

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Contents

It is the largest peninsula in the world, at 3,237,500 km2 (1,250,000 sq mi). [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] The peninsula consists of the countries Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. [9] The peninsula formed as a result of the rifting of the Red Sea between 56 and 23 million years ago, and is bordered by the Red Sea to the west and southwest, the Persian Gulf to the northeast, the Levant to the north and the Indian Ocean to the southeast. The peninsula plays a critical geopolitical role in the Arab world due to its vast reserves of oil and natural gas.

Yemen Republic in Western Asia

Yemen , officially known as the Republic of Yemen, is a country at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Yemen is the second-largest Arab sovereign state in the peninsula, occupying 527,970 square kilometres. The coastline stretches for about 2,000 kilometres. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Guardafui Channel to the south, and the Arabian Sea and Oman to the east. Yemen's territory includes more than 200 islands.

Oman Arab country in Western Asia

Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Its official religion is Islam.

Qatar Sovereign state in Western Asia

Qatar, officially the State of Qatar, is a country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Whether the sovereign state should be regarded as a constitutional monarchy or an absolute monarchy is disputed. Its sole land border is with neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) monarchy Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. An arm of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby Bahrain.

Before the modern era, it was divided into four distinct regions: Hejaz (Tihamah), Najd (Al-Yamama), Southern Arabia (Hadhramaut) and Eastern Arabia. Hejaz and Najd make up most of Saudi Arabia. Southern Arabia consists of Yemen and some parts of Saudi Arabia (Najran, Jizan, Asir) and Oman (Dhofar). Eastern Arabia consists of the entire coastal strip of the Persian Gulf.

Hejaz Place

The Hejaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. The region is so called as it separates the land of the Najd in the east from the land of Tihamah in the west. It is also known as the "Western Province". It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by Jordan, on the east by the Najd, and on the south by 'Asir Region. Its largest city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. As the site of the two holiest sites in Islam, the Hejaz has significance in the Arab and Islamic historical and political landscape.

Tihamah Red Sea coastal plain of the Arabian Peninsula from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Bab el Mandeb

Tihamah or Tihama refers to the Red Sea coastal plain of the Arabian Peninsula from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Bab el Mandeb.

Najd Region in Saudi Arabia

Najd or Nejd is a geographical central region of Saudi Arabia that alone accounts for almost a third of the population of the country. Najd consists of modern administrative regions of Riyadh, Al-Qassim, and Ha'il.

Geography

Africa, Arabian subcontinent (Asia), and Eurasia Two-point-equidistant-asia.jpg
Africa, Arabian subcontinent (Asia), and Eurasia

The Arabian Peninsula is located in the continent of Asia and bounded by (clockwise) the Persian Gulf on the northeast, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman on the east, the Arabian Sea on the southeast and south, the Gulf of Aden on the south, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait on the southwest and the Red Sea, which is located on the southwest and west. [10] The northern portion of the peninsula merges with the Syrian Desert with no clear border line, although the northern boundary of the peninsula is generally considered to be the northern borders of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. [10]

Persian Gulf An arm of the Indian Ocean in western Asia

The Persian Gulf is a mediterranean sea in Western Asia. The body of water is an extension of the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz and lies between Iran to the northeast and the Arabian Peninsula to the southwest. The Shatt al-Arab river delta forms the northwest shoreline.

Strait of Hormuz strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf

The Strait of Hormuz is a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world's most strategically important choke points. On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman. At its narrowest, the strait has a width of 21 nautical miles (39 km).

Gulf of Oman Strait that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz

The Gulf of Oman or Sea of Oman is a strait that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which then runs to the Persian Gulf. It borders Iran and Pakistan on the north, Oman on the south, and the United Arab Emirates on the west.

The most prominent feature of the peninsula is desert, but in the southwest there are mountain ranges, which receive greater rainfall than the rest of the peninsula. Harrat ash Shaam is a large volcanic field that extends from the northwestern Arabia into Jordan and southern Syria. [11]

Desert Area of land where little precipitation occurs

A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one-third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid. This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called polar deserts or "cold deserts". Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.

Jordan Arab country in Western Asia

Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab country in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea is located along its western borders and the country has a small coastline to the Red Sea in its extreme south-west, but is otherwise landlocked. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe. The capital, Amman, is Jordan's most populous city as well as the country's economic, political and cultural centre.

Syria Country in Western Asia

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Political boundaries

The Peninsula Arabian peninsula definition.PNG
The Peninsula

The peninsula's constituent countries are (clockwise north to south) Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the east, Oman on the southeast, Yemen on the south and Saudi Arabia at the center. [10] The island nation of Bahrain lies off the east coast of the peninsula.

Kuwait Country in Western Asia

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people: 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are expatriates. Expatriates account for 70% of the population.

Bahrain Sovereign island state in the Persian Gulf

Bahrain, officially the Kingdom of Bahrain, is an island country in the Persian Gulf. The sovereign state comprises a small archipelago centered around Bahrain Island, situated between the Qatar peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is connected by the 25-kilometre (16 mi) King Fahd Causeway. Bahrain's population is 1,234,571, including 666,172 non-nationals. It is 765.3 square kilometres (295.5 sq mi) in size, making it the third-smallest nation in Asia after the Maldives and Singapore.

United Arab Emirates Country in Western Asia

The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates, is a country in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. The sovereign constitutional monarchy is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. Their boundaries are complex, with numerous enclaves within the various emirates. Each emirate is governed by a ruler; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the rulers serves as the President of the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the UAE's population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates.

Six countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman) form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). [12]

Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries Map of the Arabic peninsula - en.svg
Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia covers the greater part of the peninsula. The majority of the population of the peninsula live in Saudi Arabia and in Yemen. The peninsula contains the world's largest reserves of oil. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are economically the wealthiest in the region. Qatar, a small peninsula in the Persian Gulf on the larger peninsula, is home of the Arabic-language television station Al Jazeera and its English-language subsidiary Al Jazeera English. Kuwait, on the border with Iraq, is an important country strategically, forming one of the main staging grounds for coalition forces mounting the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Population

Historical population
YearPop.±%
1950 9,481,713    
1960 11,788,232+24.3%
1970 15,319,678+30.0%
1980 23,286,256+52.0%
1990 35,167,708+51.0%
2000 47,466,523+35.0%
2010 63,364,000+33.5%
2014 77,584,000+22.4%
Political Definition: Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen
Sources:1950–2000 [13] 2000–2014 [14]
Historical population
YearPop.±%
1950 356,235    
1970 1,329,168+273.1%
1990 4,896,491+268.4%
2010 11,457,000+134.0%
2014 17,086,000+49.1%
4 smallest states (area) of Gulf Cooperation Council with entire coastline in Persian Gulf: UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait
Sources:1950–2000 [15] 2000–2014 [14]

Though historically lightly populated, political Arabia is noted for a high population growth rate – as the result of both very strong inflows of migrant labor as well as sustained high birth rates. The population tends to be relatively young and heavily skewed gender ratio dominated by males. In many states, the number of South Asians exceeds that of the local citizenry. The four smallest states (by area), which have their entire coastlines on the Persian Gulf, exhibit the world's most extreme population growth, roughly tripling every 20 years. In 2014, the estimated population of the Arabian Peninsula was 77,983,936 (including expatriates). [16] The Arabian Peninsula is known for having one of the most uneven adult sex ratios in the world with females in some regions (especially the east) constituting only a quarter of vicenarians and tricenarians. [17]

21-chromosome

Distribution of J1 haplogroup Distribution Haplogroup J1 Y-DNA.svg
Distribution of J1 haplogroup

Listed here are the human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups in Arabia (Yemen, [18] Oman, [19] Qatar, [20] Kuwait, [21] Saudi Arabia [22] and the United Arab Emirates) [23] [24] [25]

Haplogroup J is the most abundant component in the Arabian peninsula, embracing more than 50% of its Y-chromosomes. Its two main subclades (J1-M267 and J2-M172), show opposite latitudinal gradients in the Middle East. J1-M267 is more abundant in the southern areas, reaching a frequency around 73% in Yemen, whereas J2-M172 is more common in the Levant.

J (L222.2) Accounts for the majority of (L147.1) in Saudi Arabia. It seems to be an exclusively Adnani marker. [22] [26] [27] Haplogroup J 54.8% Haplogroup E 17.5% R 11.6% Haplogroup T-M184 5.1%

Landscape

A journey.jpg
A caravan crossing Ad-Dahna Desert in central Saudi Arabia
Ras al jinz flickr01.jpg
Ras al-Jinz in southeastern Arabia (Oman), also known as the 'Turtle Beach'
Arabian Plate map-uni.png
AR-Arabian Plate, velocities with respect to Africa in millimeters per year

Geologically, this region is perhaps more appropriately called the Arabian subcontinent because it lies on a tectonic plate of its own, the Arabian Plate, which has been moving incrementally away from the rest of Africa (forming the Red Sea) and north, toward Asia, into the Eurasian Plate (forming the Zagros Mountains). The rocks exposed vary systematically across Arabia, with the oldest rocks exposed in the Arabian-Nubian Shield near the Red Sea, overlain by earlier sediments that become younger towards the Persian Gulf. Perhaps the best-preserved ophiolite on Earth, the Semail Ophiolite, lies exposed in the mountains of the UAE and northern Oman.

The peninsula consists of:

  1. A central plateau, the Najd, with fertile valleys and pastures used for the grazing of sheep and other livestock
  2. A range of deserts: the Nefud in the north, [28] which is stony; the Rub' al Khali or Great Arabian Desert in the south, with sand estimated to extend 600 ft (180 m) below the surface; between them, the Dahna
  3. Mountains [29] [30] [31]
  4. Stretches of dry or marshy coastland with coral reefs on the Red Sea side (Tihamah)
  5. Oases and marshy coast-land in Eastern Arabia on the Persian Gulf side, the most important of which are those of Al Ain (in the UAE, on the border with Oman) and Al-Hasa (in Saudi Arabia), according to one author [31]

Arabia has few lakes or permanent rivers. Most areas are drained by ephemeral watercourses called wadis, which are dry except during the rainy season. Plentiful ancient aquifers exist beneath much of the peninsula, however, and where this water surfaces, oases form (e.g. Al-Hasa and Qatif, two of the world's largest oases) and permit agriculture, especially palm trees, which allowed the peninsula to produce more dates than any other region in the world. In general, the climate is extremely hot and arid, although there are exceptions. Higher elevations are made temperate by their altitude, and the Arabian Sea coastline can receive surprisingly cool, humid breezes in summer due to cold upwelling offshore. The peninsula has no thick forests. Desert-adapted wildlife is present throughout the region.

According to NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite data (2003–2013) analysed in a University of California, Irvine (UCI)-led study published in Water Resources Research on 16 June 2015, the most over-stressed aquifer system in the world is the Arabian Aquifer System, upon which more than 60 million people depend for water. [32] Twenty-one of the thirty seven largest aquifers "have exceeded sustainability tipping points and are being depleted" and thirteen of them are "considered significantly distressed." [32]

A plateau more than 2,500 feet (760 m) high extends across much of the Arabian Peninsula. The plateau slopes eastwards from the massive, rifted escarpment along the coast of the Red Sea, to the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf. The interior is characterised by cuestas and valleys, drained by a system of wadis. A crescent of sand and gravel deserts lies to the east.

Mountains

Jebel Hafeet on the border of Oman and the UAE, near the city of Al Ain. It can be considered an outlier of Al Hajar Mountains. Jebel Hafeet sunrise.jpg
Jebel Hafeet on the border of Oman and the UAE, near the city of Al Ain. It can be considered an outlier of Al Hajar Mountains.

The peninsula has mountains present in its eastern, southern and northwestern borders. Broadly, the ranges can be grouped as follows:

From the Hejaz southwards, the mountains show a steady increase in altitude westward as they get nearer to Yemen, and the highest peaks and ranges are all located in Yemen. The highest, Jabal An-Nabi Shu'ayb of the Haraz subrange of the Sarawat range, is about 3,666 m (2.278 mi) high. [29] [30] By comparison, the Tuwayr, Shammar and Dhofar generally do not exceed 1,000 m (0.62 mi) in height. [31]

It should be noted that not all mountains in the peninsula are visibly within ranges. Jebel Hafeet in particular, on the border of the UAE and Oman, measuring between 1,100 and 1,300 m (3,600 and 4,300 ft), [33] [39] is not within the Hajar range, sensu stricto , but may be considered an outlier of that range.

Land and sea

Al hafa corniche.jpg
Coconut palms line corniches of Al-Hafa, Oman
Coral Reef in the Red Sea.JPG
Red Sea coral reefs

Most of the Arabian Peninsula is unsuited to agriculture, making irrigation and land reclamation projects essential. The narrow coastal plain and isolated oases, amounting to less than 1% of the land area, are used to cultivate grains, coffee and tropical fruits. Goat, sheep, and camel husbandry is widespread elsewhere throughout the rest of the Peninsula. Some areas have a summer humid tropical monsoon climate, in particular the Dhofar and Al Mahrah areas of Oman and Yemen. These areas allow for large scale coconut plantations. Much of Yemen has a tropical monsoon rain influenced mountain climate. The plains usually have either a tropical or subtropical arid desert climate or arid steppe climate. The sea surrounding the Arabian Peninsula is generally tropical sea with a very rich tropical sea life and some of the world's largest, undestroyed and most pristine coral reefs. In addition, the organisms living in symbiosis with the Red Sea coral, the protozoa and zooxanthellae, have a unique hot weather adaptation to sudden rise (and fall) in sea water temperature. Hence, these coral reefs are not affected by coral bleaching caused by rise in temperature as elsewhere in the indopacific coral sea. The reefs are also unaffected by mass tourism and diving or other large scale human interference. However, some reefs were destroyed in the Persian Gulf, mostly caused by phosphate water pollution and resultant increase in algae growth as well as oil pollution from ships and pipeline leakage.[ citation needed ]

The fertile soils of Yemen have encouraged settlement of almost all of the land from sea level up to the mountains at 10,000 feet (3,000 m). In the higher reaches, elaborate terraces have been constructed to facilitate grain, fruit, coffee, ginger and khat cultivation. The Arabian peninsula is known for its rich oil, i.e. petroleum production due to its geographical location.[ citation needed ]

Etymology

During the Hellenistic period, the area was known as Arabia or Aravia (Greek : Αραβία). The Romans named three regions with the prefix "Arabia", encompassing a larger area than the current term "Arabian Peninsula":

The Arab inhabitants used a north-south division of Arabia: Al Sham-Al Yaman, or Arabia Deserta-Arabia Felix. Arabia Felix had originally been used for the whole peninsula, and at other times only for the southern region. Because its use became limited to the south, the whole peninsula was simply called Arabia. Arabia Deserta was the entire desert region extending north from Arabia Felix to Palmyra and the Euphrates, including all the area between Pelusium on the Nile and Babylon. This area was also called Arabia and not sharply distinguished from the peninsula. [40]

The Arabs and the Ottoman Empire considered the west of the Arabian Peninsula region where the Arabs lived 'the land of the Arabs' – Bilad al-Arab (Arabia), and its major divisions were the bilad al-Sham (Syria), bilad al-Yaman (the Land of the southern Peninsula), and Bilad al-Iraq and modern-day Kuwait (the Land of the River Banks). [41] The Ottomans used the term Arabistan in a broad sense for the subcontinent itself starting from Cilicia, where the Euphrates river makes its descent into Syria, through Palestine, and on through the remainder of the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. [42]

The provinces of Arabia were: Al Tih, the Sinai peninsula, Hedjaz, Asir, Yemen, Hadramaut, Mahra and Shilu, Oman, Hasa, Bahrain, Dahna, Nufud, the Hammad, which included the deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia and Babylonia. [43] [44]

History

Ancient coins from Failaka Island, Kuwait HistoricCoins.jpg
Ancient coins from Failaka Island, Kuwait

The history of the Arabian Peninsula goes back to the beginnings of human habitation in Arabia up to 130,000 years ago.[ citation needed ] Although, a homo sapien fossilized finger bone was found at Al Wusta in the Nefud Desert, which indicates that the first human migration out of Africa to Arabia might date back to approximately 90,000 years ago. [45] Nevertheless, the stone tools from the Middle Paleolithic age along with fossils of other animals discovered at Ti's al Ghadah, in northwestern Saudi Arabia, might imply that hominids migrated through a "Green Arabia" between 300,000 and 500,000 years ago. [46] Acheulean tools found in Saffaqah, Riyadh Region reveals that hominins lived in the Arabian Peninsula as recently as 188,000 years ago. [47]

Pre-Islamic Arabia

Sabaean inscription addressed to the god Almaqah, mentioning five Ancient Yemeni gods, two reigning sovereigns and two governors, 7th century BC Panel Almaqah Louvre DAO18.jpg
Sabaean inscription addressed to the god Almaqah, mentioning five Ancient Yemeni gods, two reigning sovereigns and two governors, 7th century BC

There is evidence that human habitation in the Arabian Peninsula dates back to about 106,000 to 130,000 years ago. [48] However, the harsh climate historically prevented much settlement in pre-Islamic Arabian peninsula, apart from a small number of urban trading settlements, such as Mecca and Medina, located in the Hejaz in the west of the peninsula. [49]

However, archaeology has revealed the existence of many civilizations in pre-Islamic Arabia (such as Thamud), especially in South Arabia. [50] [51] South Arabian civilizations include Sheba, Himyarite Kingdom, Kingdom of Awsan, Kingdom of Ma'īn and Sabaean Kingdom. Central Arabia was the location of Kingdom of Kindah in the 4th, 5th and early 6th centuries AD. Eastern Arabia was home to the Dilmun civilization. The earliest known events in Arabian history are migrations from the Peninsula into neighbouring areas. [52]

The Arabian peninsula has long been accepted as the original Urheimat of the Semitic languages by a majority of scholars. [53] [54] [55] [56]

"Shamir of Dhu-Raydan and Himyar had called in the help of the clans of Habashat for against the kings of Saba; but Ilmuqah granted... the submission of Shamir of Dhu-Raydan and the clans of Habashat." [57]

Rise of Islam

Age of the Caliphs
Expansion under Muhammad, 622-632/A.H. 1-11
Expansion during Rashidun Caliphate, 632-661/A.H. 11-40
Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661-750/A.H. 40-129 Map of expansion of Caliphate.svg
Age of the Caliphs
  Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632/A.H. 1–11
  Expansion during Rashidun Caliphate, 632–661/A.H. 11–40
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750/A.H. 40–129
Approximate locations of some of the important tribes and Empire of the Arabian Peninsula around the time that Muhammad started preaching Islam (approximately 600 AD / 20 BH) Map of Arabia 600 AD.svg
Approximate locations of some of the important tribes and Empire of the Arabian Peninsula around the time that Muhammad started preaching Islam (approximately 600 AD / 20 BH)

The seventh century saw the rise of Islam as the peninsula's dominant religion. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca in about 570 and first began preaching in the city in 610, but migrated to Medina in 622. From there he and his companions united the tribes of Arabia under the banner of Islam and created a single Arab Muslim religious polity in the Arabian peninsula.

Muhammad established a new unified polity in the Arabian peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Arab power well beyond the Arabian peninsula in the form of a vast Muslim Arab Empire with an area of influence that stretched from the northwest Indian subcontinent, across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, southern Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula, to the Pyrenees.

Muhammad began preaching Islam at Mecca before migrating to Medina, from where he united the tribes of Arabia into a singular Arab Muslim religious polity. With Muhammad's death in 632 AD, disagreement broke out over who would succeed him as leader of the Muslim community. Umar ibn al-Khattab, a prominent companion of Muhammad, nominated Abu Bakr, who was Muhammad's intimate friend and collaborator. Others added their support and Abu Bakr was made the first caliph. This choice was disputed by some of Muhammad's companions, who held that Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, had been designated his successor. Abu Bakr's immediate task was to avenge a recent defeat by Byzantine (or Eastern Roman Empire) forces, although he first had to put down a rebellion by Arab tribes in an episode known as the Ridda wars, or "Wars of Apostasy". [58]

Following Muhammad's death in 632, Abu Bakr became leader of the Muslims as the first Caliph. After putting down a rebellion by the Arab tribes (known as the Ridda wars, or "Wars of Apostasy"), Abu Bakr attacked the Byzantine Empire. On his death in 634, he was succeeded by Umar as caliph, followed by Uthman ibn al-Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib. The period of these first four caliphs is known as al-khulafā' ar-rāshidūn: the Rashidun or "rightly guided" Caliphate. Under the Rashidun Caliphs, and, from 661, their Umayyad successors, the Arabs rapidly expanded the territory under Muslim control outside of Arabia. In a matter of decades Muslim armies decisively defeated the Byzantine army and destroyed the Persian Empire, conquering huge swathes of territory from the Iberian peninsula to India. The political focus of the Muslim world then shifted to the newly conquered territories. [59] [60]

Nevertheless, Mecca and Medina remained the spiritually most important places in the Muslim world. The Qur'an requires every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, as one of the five pillars of Islam, to make a pilgrimage, or Hajj, to Mecca during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah at least once in his or her lifetime. [61] The Masjid al-Haram (the Grand Mosque) in Mecca is the location of the Kaaba, Islam's holiest site, and the Masjid al-Nabawi (the Prophet's Mosque) in Medina is the location of Muhammad tomb; as a result, from the 7th century, Mecca and Medina became the pilgrimage destinations for large numbers of Muslims from across the Islamic world. [62]

Middle Ages

Despite its spiritual importance, in political terms Arabia soon became a peripheral region of the Islamic world, in which the most important medieval Islamic states were based at various times in such far away cities as Damascus, Baghdad, and Cairo.

However, from the 10th century (and, in fact, until the 20th century) the Hashemite Sharifs of Mecca maintained a state in the most developed part of the region, the Hejaz. Their domain originally comprised only the holy cities of Mecca and Medina but in the 13th century it was extended to include the rest of the Hejaz. Although, the Sharifs exercised at most times independent authority in the Hejaz, they were usually subject to the suzerainty of one of the major Islamic empires of the time. In the Middle Ages, these included the Abbasids of Baghdad, and the Fatimids, Ayyubids and Mamluks of Egypt. [63]

Modern history

Ottoman territories acquired between 1481 and 1683 (See: list of territories) Ottoman empire.svg
Ottoman territories acquired between 1481 and 1683 (See: list of territories)

The provincial Ottoman Army for Arabia (Arabistan Ordusu) was headquartered in Syria, which included Palestine, the Transjordan region in addition to Lebanon (Mount Lebanon was, however, a semi-autonomous mutasarrifate). It was put in charge of Syria, Cilicia, Iraq, and the remainder of the Arabian Peninsula. [64] [65] The Ottomans never had any control over central Arabia, also known as the Najd region.

The Damascus Protocol of 1914 provides an illustration of the regional relationships. Arabs living in one of the existing districts of the Arabian peninsula, the Emirate of Hejaz, asked for a British guarantee of independence. Their proposal included all Arab lands south of a line roughly corresponding to the northern frontiers of present-day Syria and Iraq. They envisioned a new Arab state, or confederation of states, adjoining the southern Arabian Peninsula. It would have comprised Ciliciaİskenderun and Mersin, Iraq with Kuwait, Syria, Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Jordan, and Palestine. [66]

In the modern era, the term bilad al-Yaman came to refer specifically to the southwestern parts of the peninsula. Arab geographers started to refer to the whole peninsula as 'jazirat al-Arab', or the peninsula of the Arabs. [67]

Late Ottoman rule and the Hejaz Railway

The peninsula in 1914 Arabia 1914.png
The peninsula in 1914

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottomans embarked on an ambitious project: the construction of a railway connecting Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire and the seat of the Islamic Caliphate, and Hejaz with its holiest shrines of Islam which are the yearly pilgrimage destination of the Hajj. Another important goal was to improve the economic and political integration of the distant Arabian provinces into the Ottoman state, and to facilitate the transportation of military troops in case of need.

The Hejaz Railway was a narrow gauge railway (1,050 km (650 mi)) that ran from Damascus to Medina, through the Hejaz region of Arabia. It was originally planned to reach the holy city of Mecca, but due to the interruption of the construction works caused by the outbreak of World War I, it eventually only reached Medina. It was a part of the Ottoman railway network and was built in order to extend the previously existing line between Istanbul and Damascus (which began from the Haydarpaşa Terminal).

The railway was started in 1900 at the behest of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II and was built largely by the Turks, with German advice and support. A public subscription was opened throughout the Islamic world to fund the construction. The railway was to be a waqf, an inalienable religious endowment or charitable trust. [68]

The Arab Revolt and the foundation of Saudi Arabia

The major developments of the early 20th century were the Arab Revolt during World War I and the subsequent collapse and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The Arab Revolt (1916–1918) was initiated by the Sherif Hussein ibn Ali with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottoman Empire and creating a single unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen. During World War I, the Sharif Hussein entered into an alliance with the United Kingdom and France against the Ottomans in June 1916.

These events were followed by the foundation of Saudi Arabia under King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud. In 1902, Ibn Saud had captured Riyadh. Continuing his conquests, Abdulaziz subdued Al-Hasa, Jabal Shammar, Hejaz between 1913 and 1926 founded the modern state of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis absorbed the Emirate of Asir, with their expansion only ending in 1934 after a war with Yemen. Two Saudi states were formed and controlled much of Arabia before Ibn Saud was even born. Ibn Saud, however, established the third Saudi state.

Oil reserves

The second major development has been the discovery of vast reserves of oil in the 1930s. Its production brought great wealth to all countries of the region, with the exception of Yemen.

Civil war in Yemen

The North Yemen Civil War was fought in North Yemen between royalists of the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen and factions of the Yemen Arab Republic from 1962 to 1970. The war began with a coup d'état carried out by the republican leader, Abdullah as-Sallal, which dethroned the newly crowned Muhammad al-Badr and declared Yemen a republic under his presidency. The Imam escaped to the Saudi Arabian border and rallied popular support.

The royalist side received support from Saudi Arabia, while the republicans were supported by Egypt and the Soviet Union. Both foreign irregular and conventional forces were also involved. The Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, supported the republicans with as many as 70,000 troops. Despite several military moves and peace conferences, the war sank into a stalemate. Egypt's commitment to the war is considered to have been detrimental to its performance in the Six-Day War of June 1967, after which Nasser found it increasingly difficult to maintain his army's involvement and began to pull his forces out of Yemen.

By 1970, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia recognized the republic and a truce was signed. Egyptian military historians refer to the war in Yemen as their Vietnam. [69]

Gulf War

In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. [70] The invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces led to the 1990–91 Gulf War. Egypt, Qatar, Syria and Saudi Arabia joined a multinational coalition that opposed Iraq. Displays of support for Iraq by Jordan and Palestine resulted in strained relations between many of the Arab states. After the war, a so-called "Damascus Declaration" formalized an alliance for future joint Arab defensive actions between Egypt, Syria, and the GCC member states. [71]

Transport and industry

The extraction and refining of oil and gas are the major industrial activities in the Arabian Peninsula. The region also has an active construction sector, with many cities reflecting the wealth generated by the oil industry. The service sector is dominated by financial and technical institutions, which, like the construction sector, mainly serve the oil industry. Traditional handicrafts such as carpet-weaving are found in rural areas of Arabia.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Mecca Saudi Arabian city and capital of the Makkah province

Mecca, also spelled Makkah, is a city in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula, and the plain of Tihamah in Saudi Arabia, and is also the capital and administrative headquarters of the Makkah Region. The city is located 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level, and 340 kilometres (210 mi) south of Medina. Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.

History of Saudi Arabia aspect of history

The history of Saudi Arabia in its current form as a state began with its foundation in 1744, although the human history of the region extends as far as 20,000 years ago. The region has had a global impact twice in world history:

  1. In the 7th century it became the cradle of Islam and the capital of the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate.
  2. From the mid-20th century the discovery of vast oil deposits propelled it into a key economic and geo-political role.
Geography of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country situated in Southwest Asia, the largest country of Arabia, by the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, north of Yemen. Its extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal. The kingdom occupies 80% of the Arabian Peninsula. Most of the country's boundaries with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and the Republic of Yemen are undefined, so the exact size of the country remains unknown. The Saudi government estimate is at 2,217,949 square kilometres, while other reputable estimates vary between 2,149,690 and 2,240,000 sq. kilometres. Less than 1% of the total area is suitable for cultivation, and in the early 1960s, population distribution varied greatly among the towns of the eastern and western coastal areas, the densely populated interior oases, and the vast, almost empty deserts.

Medina City in Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia

Medina, also transliterated as Madīnah, is a city in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula and administrative headquarters of the Al-Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia. At the city's heart is al-Masjid an-Nabawi, which is the burial place of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, and it is one of the two holiest cities in Islam, the other being Mecca.

Hejaz railway railway line

The Hejazrailway was a narrow-gauge railway that ran from Damascus to Medina, through the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, with a branch line to Haifa on the Mediterranean Sea. It was a part of the Ottoman railway network and the original goal was to extend the line from the Haydarpaşa Terminal in Kadikoy beyond Damascus to the holy city of Mecca. However, construction was interrupted due to the outbreak of World War I, and it reached no further than Medina, 400 kilometres (250 mi) short of Mecca. The completed Damascus to Medina section was 1,300 kilometres (810 mi).

Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca King of Hejaz

Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi was a Hashemite Arab leader who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908 and, after proclaiming the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, King of the Hejaz from 1916 to 1924. At the end of his reign he also briefly laid claim to the office of Caliph. He was said to be a 37th-generation direct descendant of Muhammad as he belongs to the Hashemite family.

Emirate of Diriyah 1744– 1818 country in Arabian Peninsula

The Emirate of Diriyah was the first Saudi state. It was established in the year 1744 when Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Prince Muhammad bin Saud formed an alliance to found a socio-religious reform movement to unify the many states of the Arabian Peninsula and free it from Ottoman rule. In 1744, both Muhammed bin Abd Al Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud took an oath to achieve their goal. Marriage between Muhammad bin Saud's son, Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad, and the daughter of the Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab helped to seal the pact between their families which has lasted through the centuries to the present day.

Islam in Saudi Arabia

Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. The connection between Islam and Saudi Arabia is uniquely strong. The kingdom, which sometimes is called the "home of Islam", is the location of the cities of Mecca and Medina, where Muhammad, the messenger of the Islamic faith, lived and died, and attracts millions of Muslim Hajj pilgrims annually, and thousands of clerics and students who come from across the Muslim world to study. The official title of the King of Saudi Arabia is "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques"—the two being Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina—which are considered the holiest in Islam.

Kingdom of Hejaz Former middle-eastern country

The Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz was a state in the Hejaz region in the Middle East, the western portion of the Arabian peninsula ruled by the Hashemite dynasty. It achieved national independence after the destruction of the Ottoman Empire by the British Empire, during World War I, when the Sharif of Mecca fought in alliance with the British Imperial forces to drive the Ottoman Army from the Arabian Peninsula during the Arab Revolt.

The Hadith of Najd is a hadith with several chains of narration about three geographical locations, one of which is prophesied to be the source of calamities. While all Sunni Muslims accept the group of hadith as authentic, the exact location of the area referred to as "Najd" is disputed. Possible locations listed are the areas around Yemen, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

Arabian tribes that interacted with Muhammad

There were several Arabian tribes that interacted with Muhammad.

Almutairi is one of the largest predominantly Sunni Arab tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Bani Khalid is an Arab tribal confederation. The tribe ruled the southern region of Iraq and eastern Saudi Arabia from the 15th century to the 18th century, and again under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire during the early 19th century. At its greatest extent, the domain of Bani Khalid extended from Iraq in the north to the borders of Oman in the South, and Bani Khalid wielded political influence by ruling the region of Nejd in central Arabia. Most of the tribe's members presently reside in eastern and central Saudi Arabia, while others live in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Palestine, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. The Bani Khalid are both Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims.

Unification of Saudi Arabia conflict (1902–1932)

The unification of Saudi Arabia was a military and political campaign, by which the various tribes, sheikhdoms, city-states, emirates, and kingdoms of most of the Arabian Peninsula were conquered by the House of Saud, or Al Saud, between 1902 and 1932, when the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed under the leadership of Ibn Saud, creating what is sometimes referred to as the Third Saudi State, to differentiate it from the Emirate of Diriyah, the First Saudi State and the Emirate of Nejd, the Second Saudi State, also House of Saud states.

Al-Mutairi or Almutairi or Mutairi s a powerful Arabic tribe in the Arabian Peninsula and prominent in the Middle East.

Hejaz Vilayet A Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire

The Vilayet of the Hejaz refers to the Hejaz region of Arabia when it was administered as a first-level province (vilayet) of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of the 20th century, it reportedly had an area of 96,500 square miles (250,000 km2). The Hejaz included all land from the southern border of the Vilayet of Syria, south of the city of Ma‛an, to the northern border of the Vilayet of Yemen, north of the city of Al Lith.

Peninsular Arabic, or Southern Arabic, are the varieties of Arabic spoken throughout the Arabian Peninsula. This includes the countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Southern Iraq and the tribal people of Jordan.

Ottoman Arabia

The Ottoman era in the history of Arabia lasted from 1517 to 1918. Ottoman degree of control over these lands varied over the four centuries with the fluctuating strength or weakness of the Empire's central authority.

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