Lay of the Land: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in southwest Asia comprises most of the Arabian Peninsula. The south and southeast are occupied by the great Rub al Khali (“Empty Quarter”) Desert, through which run the largely undefined boundaries with South Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. A central plateau, the Nejd, rises from 2,000 feet in the east to 5,000 feet in the west and includes the capital, Riyadh. The Hejaz, site of Colonel T.E. Lawrence’s famed exploits during the Arab revolt against the Ottomans during World War I, stretches along the Red Sea coast and includes the holy cites of Mecca and Medina and the port of Jidda, commercial center of the kingdom. The Asir, extending south to the Yemeni border, has a fertile coastal plain and mountains rising to more than 9,000 feet.
Muhammad and the Birth of Islam
Diplomatic relations between the US and Saudi Arabia were established in 1933. The US embassy opened in Jeddah in 1944 (and moved to Riyadh in 1984). The US consulate general in Dhahran opened in 1944 in response to the growing oil-related US presence in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Noted Saudi Arabian-American
The Saudi royal family did not know quite what to make of George W. Bush during the early months of his presidency. They considered his father a good friend and George W. himself had been in the oil business. Yet in August 2001, the new President Bush infuriated King Abdullah by publicly stating that the violence between Israel and Palestine was the fault of the Palestinians. Previous presidents had shown at least a little sympathy for the Palestinian plight and had occasionally rebuked the Israelis for one excess or another. Abdullah passed on his displeasure through diplomatic channels, stating in a letter to Bush that because of US support for Israel, “It is time for the United States and Saudi Arabia to look at their separate interests.” Abdullah was delighted when Bush responded with a letter reversing his position.
Bush Administration Announces $20 Billion Arms Deal for Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Basic Law provides for a system of government and citizen’s rights. In the past, Saudi Arabia has been found to be in violation of numerous human rights, including rights of the accused, civil liberties, and women’s rights.
Appointment: Aug 7, 1939
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 4, 1940
Termination of Mission: Left Cairo Feb 28, 1941
Note: Also accredited to Egypt; resident at Cairo.
Adel A. Al-Jubeir was appointed as ambassador to the United States on January 29, 2007. Born on February 1, 1962 in Majma'ah (Riyadh Province), Saudi Arabia, Al-Jubeir attended schools in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Yemen, Lebanon, and the US. He obtained a BA summa cum laude in political science and economics from the University of North Texas in 1982, and an MA in international relations from Georgetown University in 1984.
James B. Smith reportedly donated $3,300 to President Barack Obama’s election, but that’s not what got him the ambassadorship to Saudi Arabia. What put the former Air Force general in Obama’s good graces was his decision in 2008 to endorse Obama at a time when the upstart Democrat was still trying to prove his national security credentials against his challenger, Hillary Clinton.
Ford M. Fraker was sworn in on April 11, 2007 as US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and served until April 2009. Born in Princeton, NJ, Fraker graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.