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Capital: Riyadh Population: 22,000,000 Religion: Islam
Muslim Background Believers: A few scattered believers
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a rich history steeped in desert culture. For thousands of years the Saudis have thrived in the heat and expanse of the Saudi desert. That desert life was forever altered about 70 years ago when 25% of the world's oil reserves were found beneath the sand. This oil has allowed the Saudi family to rule the country through the years. The Saudi government is also known to be a generous contributor to the propagation of Islam around the world.
Mecca is located in Saudi Arabia. Its importance for Muslims dates back to the year 571 when the prophet Mohammed (the founder of Islam) was born there. Muslims worldwide are commanded to face Mecca five times a day to pray toward the spiritual center of Islam. They pray acknowledging there is only one God and Mohammed is his prophet.
One of the key tenets of Islam is a pilgrimage, Hajj, to Mecca at least once in a Muslim's life. Approximately two million Muslims from Saudi Arabia and around the world arrive there annually for the Hajj. For many, it is a lifelong ambition. From the time of embarking on the journey to make the Hajj, pilgrims often experience a spirit of exaltation and excitement. The meeting of so many Muslims of all races and cultures in equality moves many people deeply. Many come to fulfill a life's dream and attempt to be reconciled with Allah (God), but many leave disappointed at the experience. The most holy site within this holy city is the Great Mosque. Within the Great Mosque sits the Black Stone, a large black monolith that is central to the Hajj.
Mecca itself is off limits to all non-Muslims. It sits in a valley surrounded by low hills, with a population of approximately 550,000. Mecca is definitely the religious capital, but the political capital of Saudi Arabia is Riyadh.
As the homeland of Islam, anything that affects Saudi Arabia potentially affects the whole of the Muslim world. In the past, the Saudi family had succeeded in recycling the oil wealth through the economy to please the masses, providing a comfortable life for most. Since the Gulf War, the amount of money siphoned off the economy by the ruling family has increased while normal people are finding themselves less and less advantaged as their population swells. This is a slow boiling pot politically, which could explode at some point in the future.
The Saudi population is, by government statistics, 100% Muslim. There are few local Christians among the Saudis. While there are many foreign Christians living and working in Saudi Arabia, churches for them are not officially permitted.
Christian missionaries are not allowed in Saudi Arabia. Any sort of proselytizing of the country's population is strictly forbidden. People accused of proselytizing will lose their jobs and may be imprisoned prior to deportation. Despite this, many Saudis are very approachable on the topic of religion. Many Saudis travel internationally, and it is quite easy to speak to them about Christ, especially when they are away from their homeland.
Pray for more laborers to share the Gospel in Saudi Arabia. Pray that whole Saudi families would come to know Christ and grow in Him together.
Family, employment and social pressures cause incredible stress on believers who often struggle once they have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Pray for Saudi believers to grow in their walk with Christ and persevere in faith.
Pray for foreign Christians living in Saudi Arabia to live a life fully committed to Christ, sharing the Truth with the people around them.
Pray for Saudis who travel and live abroad, that they might discover Christ while outside of Saudi Arabia.
Pray for every Saudi to have the opportunity to hear and receive the Gospel.
Pray that more people in Saudi Arabia would hear about Christ through radio, satellite TV and the Internet.
Pray that Muslims around the world will begin to experience deeper dissatisfaction with their faith as they bow toward Mecca. Pray that they will find Christ as the Great Shepherd.
Pray that Muslims who go to Mecca on the Hajj (pilgrimage) will not find contentment but will have visions and dreams of Jesus that will lead them to the truth.
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