Nejd, in northern Arabia, was long the center of the fundamentalist Wahabbi Moslem sect. Under Turkish control until 1913, Nejd was freed by Ibn Saud, a warrior king who immediately set about the enlargement of his domain. He conquered the Turkish province of Hasa in 1913, the Kingdom of the Hejaz in 1925, and most of Asir in 1926. In 1932 the kingdom adopted the name Saudi Arabia. Oil was discovered in 1936, and petroleum soon became the country's major export and economic mainstay. Saudi Arabia has played a leading role in OPEC. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, ruled by the Saud family. Mecca and Medina, the holy cities of Islam, are within the country, and the Koran is the law of the land. Saudi Arabia has been an active force in the Arab movement for a Palestinian state. Since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, it has given annual subsidies to the Arab frontline states, as well as to the various Palestinian political groups. The Saudis were among the leaders in the 1973-74 oil boycott of the West.
Prior to 1916 see Turkey
Located on the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Hejaz includes the Moslem holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In 1916, the grand sherif of Mecca proclaimed the Hejaz independent of Turkish rule and joined the British against Turkey in World War I. After Turkey's defeat, the Hashemite family, which had long ruled the Hejaz, provided rulers for the new states of Iraq and Trans-Jordan. After World War I, the independence of the Kingdom of the Hejaz was confirmed, but in 1924, it was invaded by the Hashemite's traditional rivals, the Wahabbis of eastern Arabia, led by Ibn Saud. The Hejaz was quickly conquered and absorbed into the Wahabbi kingdom. In 1932, the united kingdoms were renamed Saudi Arabia.