Historic origins of Saudi Arabia’s diverse population

Saudi men are seen at a music concert in Riyadh on March 10, 2017. A large proportion of Saudis of non-Arab origin are from South Asia, particularly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to a study. (AFP file photo)
Updated 01 March 2018
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Historic origins of Saudi Arabia’s diverse population

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s population is more diverse than many people think.
Since the Arabian Peninsula was home to the first Arabs, it is natural that the vast majority of Saudis are Arab and belong to Arab tribes. However, many Saudi citizens are also ethnic Persians, Turks, Uzbeks and Indians.
A recent study by the Department of Genetics & Genome Biology at the University of Leicester in the UK examined the geographical and social structure in the paternal lineages of Saudi Arabia. It compared the five geographical divisions of the country and tested the DNA of 597 Saudis.
The study found that there was low diversity in the north and center, but high diversity in both east and west reflecting the proximity of the sea to the Kingdom’s Eastern and Western Regions, and consequent historical immigration.
A large proportion of Saudis of non-Arab origin are from South Asia, particularly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Many are descendants of wealthy merchants and Muslim scholars who stayed in Makkah and Madinah after they performed the Hajj.
For example, the family of Abdel Ghani Nour Wali, traveled to Hijaz for trade. They decided to bring their families from India and settled in Jeddah before the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was united.
Many Saudis also have Turkish ancestry from the time of the Ottoman empire. There were also immigrants from Central Asia, known to the people of the Hijaz as Bukharis, many of them arrived after the Soviet occupation of their countries. Then there are the “Jawa,” from Indonesia and elsewhere in southeast Asian. And finally Afghans, the smallest minority.
These arrivals in Saudi society have given the Western Region, Makkah and Madinah in particular, a rich and diverse culture unmatched elsewhere in Saudi. The languages, identities and cultural practices were integrated to produce a unique Hijazi culture.


Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism: Saudi deputy defense minister

Updated 24 April 2019
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Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism: Saudi deputy defense minister

  • “We have to choose between the chaos that Iran spreads and stability, security and development,” he said
  • Delegation led by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in Russia for an official visit

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman said the Iranian regime continues to feed sectarianism and disrespect international laws at the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security on Wednesday.

“We have to choose between the chaos that Iran spreads and stability, security and development,” he said adding that “Iran is spreading chaos in the region through destruction and bloodshed, and by supporting the militias of Hezbollah and Houthis.”

“Houthi militias continue to violate the resolutions of the Security Council and the Stockholm Agreement, ignored UN resolution 2216 and the Gulf initiative…our goal is to achieve stability for Yemeni citizens under a legitimate government,” he said.

The deputy defense minister also said that the Kingdom is witnessing today an unprecedented transformation and development to achieve the vision 2030.

A delegation led by Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi deputy minister of defense, has arrived in Russia for an official visit on Tuesday, during which the members will take part in the eighth Moscow Conference on International Security and hold a number of meetings.

Prince Khalid was welcomed by Saudi Ambassador to Russia Dr. Raed Qurmali, military adviser Maj. Gen. Talal Al-Otaibi and Military Attache Gen. Mohammad Al-Mutairi, along with the deputy chief of staff of the Russian defense ministry and other civilian and military officials.