Religion in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh city

Saudi Arabia is dominated by Sunni Muslims.

Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. Approximately 93 percent of Saudis are Muslim. The majority of Saudi Muslims are Sunni. About 15 percent of Saudi Muslims are Shia. Sharia law comprises the country's legal system. The nation's constitution is the Holy Quran. Anyone proselytizing faiths other than Islam could be arrested and also imprisoned with a possible death sentence on the table.

The demography of Saudi Arabia is skewed towards the young. Approximately 56 percent of Saudi Muslims are below 30 years of age. The population of Saudi Muslims is expected to increase by 51 percent during the 2015 to 2050 period. Even then, the percentage of Saudis among the total world Muslim population will be a mere two percent.

Islam has its influence on food and drink in Saudi Arabia. Prohibited or haram foods are strictly not permitted. These dietary restrictions hold valid for not only locals but also for foreigners visiting the country as a tourist or working there. Alcohol and pork are 'haram.' It is a punishable offense to consume, purchase or import haram foods and drinks. The majority of local meals consist of staples such as meat and rice. The meat is grilled lamb or grilled chicken. Other standard dishes found all over the country include shawarma, fava beans, and falafel.

Two of the holiest cities of the Islam faith, Mecca and Medina, are located in Saudi Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca and buried in Medina. Muslims in the millions travel from across the world to Mecca so they can fulfill their six-day-long pilgrimage or Hajj to Kaaba shrine. Every adult and able-bodied Muslim are required to do the Hajj if the person can afford to do so. Many Muslims also travel to Mecca for the voluntary and much shorter Umrah pilgrimage.

Dress in Saudi Arabia, as expected in a conservative Muslim country, is ultra-conservative. People wear hijab. Clothes of Muslim men cover the entire body. The keffiyeh or checkered head cloth covers the top of the head. Muslim women wear a full body abaya. The color of the latter garment is uniformly black. The niqab is a black headpiece. It covers the complete face, leaving only a slit for the eyes. Only foreigners are not expected to follow this conservative dress line. They must, however, dress modestly in public. Movie halls have made a comeback after many years of being banned. This is part of the new liberal thrust by the present Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

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