612px-Saudi_Arabia_mapThis month we are exploring Saudi Arabia. It is officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is the largest (by land) Arab state in Western Asia and the second largest in the Arab World. It occupies 80% of the Arabian Peninsula. Before 1932 Saudi Arabia consisted of four distinct regions. In 1932 Ibn Saud united the four regions forming the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The country has since been a monarchy governed along Islam lines with much influence Wahhabism. In 1992 the Basic Law of Saudi Arabia was adopted as a royal decree stating that the king must comply with Islamic Law (Sharia) and the Quran.The royal family dominates the government. Its vast number allows for control of most of the important posts and at all levels of government.

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud Jan2007

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud Source: Cherie A. Thurlby [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest places in Islam, Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina. There are 20 million Saudi citizens and 5 million foreigners living in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter. A large portion of its land is uninhabitable desert.

Flag of Saudi Arabia

Before the development of Islam, Saudi Arabia was populated by nomadic tribal societies besides a few urban trading settlements like Mecca and Medina. The life was hard in the hostile desert land. The Islamic Prophet, Muhammad was born around 571 in Mecca. In the early 7th century Muhammad united the various tribes on the peninsula with Islam. After his death his followers expanded the Islamic territory.

saudi arabia books CollageTo learn more about the country, politics, economy and people in the news for older children, you can find books at the library like the ones above which we found at ours. (I do not let my 5-year-old see or hear the news, so we did not read many of these type of books.)

ISLAM BOOKS CollageWith the birth of Islam in Saudi Arabia and 97% of the country being Muslim, it would be hard to talk about Saudi Arabia without discussing Islam. I had trouble finding many picture books with stories from Saudi Arabia, but we found a few having to do with Islam, Muhammad and the holidays. Really focusing on Saudi Arabia is the perfect time for non-Muslims to educate their children about Islam. Some other stories that help introduce the lifestyle in Islam and Arabic countries but have a familiar story line are some of the fairy tales that have been written. Here are some I have found and featured over at Crafty Moms Share. The Sleeping Beauty book is coming out in February. fairy tales CollageIn Saudi Arabia, they follow Islamic Rule which includes not eating pork, strict dress guidelines, alcoholic beverages are prohibited and there are not theaters or public exhibitions of films. Daily life is dominated by Islamic Observances including praying five times. Since Friday is the Islamic holiest day, traditionally the weekend in Saudi Arabia was Thursday through Friday. To help the economy and international commitments they switched it in 2013 to Friday to Saturday. They still follow hijab traditional dress which suits the life in the harsh desert. Football (soccer) is the national sport. Other popular sports include sailing, windsurfing, scuba diving and basketball. Camel races and falconry are also still practiced.

Arabian Camel Meat Biryani

Arabian Camel Meat Biryani Source: By Miansari66 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

For cuisine, pork is not consumed. A stuffed lamb dish called khūzī is a traditional national dish. Kebabs and shāwarmā, a marinated meat, are popular dishes. Flat unleavened bread, dates and fresh fruit are part of every meal. Turkish style coffee is the traditional beverage. (Source)

For more resources and lessons on Saudi Arabia check out the following sites I found:

Now it is time to explore Saudi Arabia with different recipes. Join us on our blog hop to see all the wonderful Saudi Arabian recipes, crafts and more shared and feel free to share your own.  We also have the wonderful Saudi Arabia placemat and passport pages  (and of course our passport cover) coming soon to download for free to help teach your children about Saudi Arabia.

 

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