Demographics

Saudi Arabia’s population as of July 2006 is estimated to be about 27,019,731, including an estimated 5.5 million resident foreigners. Until the 1960s, a majority of the population was nomadic; but presently more than 95% of the population is settled, due to rapid economic and urban growth.

The birth rate is 29.56 births per 1,000 people and the death rate is 2.62 deaths per 1,000 people. Some cities and oases have densities of more than 1,000 people per square kilometer (2,600/sq mi).

About 23% of the population is made up of foreign nationals living in Saudi Arabia, although the actual percentage is not measured in state censes. Approximately 12% of the population is South Asian or of South Asian ancestry, including Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis. In addition, there are some citizens of Asian, Northeast African, and Sub-Saharan ancestry.

Many Arabs from nearby countries are employed in the kingdom. There are over eight million migrants from countries all around the world (including non-Muslims):

Indian: 1.5 million,

Pakistani: 1.1 million,

Bangladeshi: 1.0 million,

Filipino: 950,000,

Egyptian: 900,000,

Yemeni: 800,000,

Indonesian: 500,000,

Sri Lankan: 350,000,

Sudanese: 250,000,

Syrian: 100,000 and

Turkish: 80,000.

There are around 100,000 Westerners in Saudi Arabia, most of whom live in compounds or gated communities.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was also a significant community of South Koreans, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, but most have since returned home. Saudi Arabia expelled 800,000 Yemenis in 1990 and 1991 to punish Yemen for its opposition to the Gulf War against Iraq.

An estimated 240,000 Palestinians are living in Saudi Arabia. They are not allowed to hold or even apply for Saudi citizenship, because of Arab League instructions barring the Arab states from granting them citizenship in order “to avoid dissolution of their identity and protect their right to return to their homeland”.

Palestinians are the sole foreign group that cannot benefit from a 2004 law passed by Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers, which entitles expatriates of all nationalities who have resided in the kingdom for ten years to apply for citizenship with priority being given to holders of degrees in various scientific fields.

The Articles 12.4 and 14.1 of the Executive Regulation of Saudi Citizenship System can be interpreted as requiring applicants to be Muslim. The Saudi royal family and official creed of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is Sunnism.

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