The population of Saudi Arabia is about 90% Arab, with Asian and African minorities. The vast majority belong to the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam, although there is a small percentage of Shiites, mainly in the Eastern prov. Islam is the only officially recognized religion; other faiths are not publicly tolerated. A large proportion of the population are farmers in the Hejaz. Nomads and seminomads raise camels, sheep, goats, and horses. The large number of foreigners living in Saudi Arabia work in the oil industry, as computer technicians and consultants, and as construction and domestic workers. Arabic is spoken by almost everyone.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.