ONLY in SAUDI ARABIA: Top 17 Weirdest Things
|Weird things in Arab Saudi. Photo: CNN|
Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has taken major steps to improve the lives of its citizens. The kingdom also continues to heavily invest in its infrastructure and future development as it seeks to diversify the economy and become less dependent on the vast oil reserves.
There are, however, some funny, hilarious, and unique things you may only ever come across in Saudi Arabia...
1. More than 100 camels are sold in the capital of Saudi Arabia every day
2. Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are forbidden to drive.
"The conservative Islamic state has no written ban on women driving, but Saudi law requires citizens to use a locally issued license while in the country. Such licenses are not issued to women, making it effectively illegal for them to drive," according to Business Insider.
3. Saudi Arabia is erecting the world's tallest building, which will be 1 kilometer tall — taller than 492 LeBron Jameses standing on top of one another.
Saudi Arabia officially got the green light to build the world's tallest building, the Jeddah Tower — aka the Kingdom Tower. It's expected to reach 3,280 feet or 1 kilometer.
But Iraq has plans to upstage the Saudis, as it wants to build an even taller tower called The Bride, which will eclipse the Jeddah Tower by 500 feet.
LeBron James stands at 6-foot-8, or 2.03 meters.
4. Non- Muslims aren’t allowed to step foot in Mecca and Medina.
Entering either Mecca or Medinah, the two holiest cities in Islam, as a non-Muslim is forbidden, so don't try to sneak in.
The punishment is a large fine, deportation, or whatever the judge decides.
5. Every shop in Saudi Arabia will close immediately during salat (prayer time).
Don’t be surprised, it’ll open immediately after, Lovin Saudi cites.
6. Saudi Arabia's annual military expenditure is four times as much as the GDP of Afghanistan.
Saudi Arabia's military expenditure increased to $80.8 billion in 2014, up from 2013's $67 billion, which puts them in fourth place for military expenditure, behind the US, China, and Russia.
7. Gambling is in principle illegal.
|Gambling is in principle illegal. Photo: Twitter|
While many Saudis play poker and gamble online using VPNs, the punishment for gambling can be as harsh as a six-month jail term.
8. Being gay or transgender is illegal.
In March 2017, two transgender people were shoved in bags, beaten with sticks, and tortured to death, according to human-rights activists with the Blue Veins group.
Sex-reassignment surgery is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
9. No public displays of affection.
The new public-decency code explicitly warns against public displays of affection, so be wary where your hands are.
The maximum fine for PDA is 3,000 riyals, or $800.
10. The kingdom's Ghawar oil field has enough reserves to fill 4,770,897 Olympic swimming pools.
The kingdom's oil reserves are huge. Saudi Arabia's Ghawar field is the largest in the world. It has an estimated 75 billion barrels of oil left.
An Olympic-size swimming pool can hold 660,253.09 gallons of liquid.
11. On average, one person has been executed every other day in Saudi Arabia in 2015.
"At least 151 people have been put to death in Saudi Arabia so far this year — the highest recorded figure since 1995 — in an unprecedented wave of executions marking a grim new milestone in the Saudi Arabian authorities' use of the death penalty," according to Amnesty International.
"Annual execution tolls for Saudi Arabia in recent years have rarely exceeded 90 for the entire year," they added.
12. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world without a river.
|Photo: Business Insider|
Saudi Arabia is the 13th-largest country in the world, and the second-largest in the Arab world — behind Algeria — at 830,000 square miles.
Ninety-five percent of the country is considered a desert or semidesert, and it has some of the largest desert areas, including An Nafud and Rub al-Khali. Only 1.45% of the land is arable.
And while it doesn't have a river, its "extensive coastlines on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal," according to the CIA World Factbook.
13. Saudi Arabia's population is slightly bigger than Texas', but Texas' GDP is nearly twice as large.
Saudi Arabia's population was around 28.8 million in 2013, which is slightly above that of Texas' 26.5 million. But Saudi Arabia's GDP in 2013 was around $750 billion, while Texas' was approximate twice that amount, at $1.4 trillion.
Plus, Saudi Arabia has the 19th-largest GDP — but if Texas were its own country, it would have the 13th-largest GDP, just below Australia and right above Spain.
Overall, this suggests that Texas is more productive than Saudi Arabia.
14. Saudi Arabia's petroleum sector makes up 45% of GDP, which makes it bigger than the total GDPs of Iraq, Morocco, Rwanda, and Tonga combined.
Saudi Arabia's petroleum sector puts it at around $335.372 billion.
Iraq's GDP is $222.879 billion, Morocco's is $104.4 billion, Rwanda's is $7.451 billion, and Tonga's is $466 million.
15. The expected cost of the Kingdom Tower's construction is 19.2 times as much as the amount Taylor Swift made last year.
|Kingdom Tower. Photo: Youtube|
The Kingdom Tower is expected to cost $1.23 billion.
Taylor Swift reportedly raked in $64 million in 2014.
16. The zig-zag-shaped border between Saudi Arabia and Jordan is rumored to be a byproduct of Winston Churchill's love of boozy lunches.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia share an oddly shaped border that's referred to as Winston's Hiccup or Churchill's Sneeze.
Rumor has it that Winston Churchill drew that boundary "with a stroke of a pen, one Sunday afternoon in Cairo" following "a particularly liquid lunch."
17. Almost 60% of the labor force in Saudi Arabia is foreign.
There's been some structural improvement in the kingdom's labor force, but ultimately it remains heavily reliant on foreign labor. "Saudi nationals continue to work largely in the public sector with little incentive to join the private sector or to improve productivity," writes HSBC's Razan Nasser.
Notably, most of the people who work in the oil and service sectors in Saudi Arabia are foreigners.
And now take a look at another oil powerhouse:
Gun dealer Tom Mannewitz displays several United States-made assault-style rifles inside his Dallas, Texas gun shop, September 13, 2004. A 1994 law passed by Congress that outlawed the making and importing of certain military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and the manufacture of ammunition magazines containing more than 10 rounds is set to expire at midnight. Dallas gun dealers report more calls from the media concerning the weapons ban than by gun enthusiasts trying to purchase the weapons.
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