Saudi Arabia. The struggle for how Islam is to be
translated into Saudi politics continued throughout the
year. It was particularly troubling at the border with
Yemen, where Shi'ite Muslim rebels protested against what
they experienced as oppression during the Wahhabit regime.
Two people were killed there in February and just as many in
July. In May, the Saudi military was reported to have
campaigned against the rebels inside Yemen.
During the year, trials were also launched against
hundreds of people, most of them Saudi but also a number of
Yemenis, suspected of colluding with the terror network
al-Qaeda. Recruitment to al-Qaeda was estimated to increase
due to widespread unemployment and also through the
unemployment in Yemen which gave al-Qaeda leeway there. In
May, Saudi Arabia pledged $ 3.25 billion in support of the
new Yemeni government. Two Saudi border guards were reported
to have been killed by al-Qaeda in November, and on November
28, a Saudi diplomat and his bodyguard were shot dead in
Yemen's capital Sana.
The Crown Prince, the Prime Minister and also the
Minister of the Interior Nayif, who had taken office in
2011, died in June. In the post of Crown Prince and Prime
Minister, he was succeeded by his half-brother, Prince
Salman. At the powerful post of Interior Minister, the king
first appointed another half-brother, Prince Ahmed, but he
was unexpectedly succeeded in October by a representative of
the younger generation, the deceased Nayif's 53-year-old son
Mohammed ibn Nayif. The appointment was seen as an attempt
by the relatively moderate King Abdullah to keep the most
conservative princes from the core of power.
countryaah, over 50 young women were injured and one was killed in
March when police intervened against female students
demonstrating against abuses at King Khaled University in
the city of Abha.
About 1,000 Nigerian women were arrested in connection
with the pilgrimage to Mecca in September. They were accused
of violating the requirement not to travel without a male
guardian, but most traveled with their spouses. In Nigeria,
married couples often have different surnames.
Swedish Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors resigned on March
29 after Sweden's Radio revealed that the Swedish government
had plans to assist Saudi Arabia with the construction of a
weapons factory there.
Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA received sharp
international criticism in early October after it was
discovered that its Saudi branch had retouched women from
images in the company's furniture catalog.
Riyadh, al-Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia; 7.1 million inbd (2015). The
city is centrally located in the country in the al-Najd region; the country's
only railroad connects the city with al-Dammam on the Persian Gulf. Riyadh stood
in the shadow of Jeddah by the Red Sea until the late 1970's, when central
administration and foreign representations were seriously established. Now, only
a little of the old town is left, while the modern steel, glass and concrete
buildings have shot up everywhere. However, there is still a traditional souk
(bazaar); it is especially used by the city's many guest workers.
Large, luxurious shopping malls and freeways without sidewalks characterize
the cityscape. The embassies are gathered in a special, guarded district,
Diplomatic Quarters, where also the Danish embassy, designed by Henning
Larsen, is located. Larsen is also behind the Ministry of Foreign Affairs'
beautiful building complex.
In Riyadh, which is both the country's administrative and commercial center,
there is also a modern, newly built opera house. However, it is not used because
of the strict Saudi Arab interpretation of Islam. Since the late 1990's, Riyadh
has experienced the emergence of slums on the periphery of the city alongside
the vigorous urbanization.
Riyadh was designated the capital of Saudi Arabia's independence in 1932. The
background was that the dominant Saud family had its headquarters here since it
was expelled by the Ottomans from the neighboring city of al-Diriyah in 1818.