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They not only re-captured Riyadh, but much of the surrounding territory.

After that, Abdulaziz set out on a 30-year campaign of slaughter and intrigue to unify the Arabian Peninsula.

The area united under him became known as Saudi Arabia.

In the 1930s, the discovery of oil transformed the country and the US was quick to seek to put one over on the weakened British erstwhile colonialists.

Neighboring countries include Jordan to the northwest, Iraq and Kuwait to the northeast, Bahrain and Qatar to the east, the United Arab Emirates to the southeast, and Oman and Yemen to the south.

Saudi Arabia contains the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina, to which all physically and financially able Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage at least once if possible (see Hajj) and where non-Muslims are forbidden from entering.

In the foothills of the Hejaz lies the holy city of Mecca, and approximately 400km north of Mecca in an oasis between two large lava fields lies the other holy city of Medina.Saudi Arabia covers approximately four fifths of the area of the Arabian Peninsula, which can be described as a rectangular plateau gradually sloping downhill to the east until reaching sea level at the Persian Gulf.The main topographical features are: The Sarawat or Sarat mountain range running parallel to the Red Sea coast beginning near the Jordanian border until the southern coast of Yemen, gradually increasing in height southwards.Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia offered refuge to the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its sand for the liberation of Kuwait the following year.A burgeoning population, unemployment, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all major governmental concerns.

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