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Chapter 17. The Persian Gulf. Bahrain Iran Iraq Kuwait Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Yemen. I. Saudi Arabia. Largest Middle Eastern country and most influential Greatest oil exporter in the world Birthplace of Islam, home to many Muslim holy sites

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chapter 17

Chapter 17

The Persian Gulf







Saudi Arabia

United Arab Emirates


i saudi arabia
I. Saudi Arabia
  • Largest Middle Eastern country and most influential
  • Greatest oil exporter in the world
  • Birthplace of Islam, home to many Muslim holy sites
    • In the highlands of the west: Mecca and Medina
  • Arabian Peninsula- surrounded by Red Sea, Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea
  • 90% desert, no permanent rivers and no lakes
  • Pillars of Islam
    • Declare that Allah is God and that Muhammed is his messenger
    • Pray 5 times a day
    • Give alms to the poor
    • Fast during the month of Ramadan
    • Make a pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)
  • Mosque- every city has at least one, criers call people to pray
  • Mecca- where Muhammed was born
  • Koran- Muslim holy book
  • Medina- where Muhammed fled after being run out of Mecca, raised an army in Medina and defeated Mecca 8 years later, Muhammed is buried in Medina
  • Sunni- 80% of Muslims, means “well trodden path”, conservative, follow the Caliphs- appointed successors of Muhammed
  • Shiites- 20%, honor the Iman- the hereditary successor of Muhammed, 4 countries with Shiites majority (Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Azerbaijan)
  • Women-
    • Veils must be worn in public, not allowed to socialize with men other than relatives, not many job opportunities
    • No PDA- can get arrested for holding hands!
saudi arabia
Saudi Arabia
  • Rub al Khali- southern desert, larger than California, 3rd largest in the world, called the Empty Quarter
  • Riyadh- capital, built by an oasis in the Nejd plateau
  • Discovered oil in 1936 on the Eastern coast- created new economy
  • Rulers are descendants of Ibn-Saud who conquered the land and created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
    • No constitution
    • Only bound by Islamic law interpreted by Wahhabi leaders (noted for strict following of Islam)
    • Saud family lives very lavish life, recently fueled antigovernment movements
ii small states on the arabian peninsula
II. Small States on the Arabian Peninsula
  • Yemen
  • Oman
  • UAE
  • Qatar
  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait


  • Occupies the western corner of Arabian Peninsula
  • Most people are very poor, lowest literacy rate, life expectancy and per capita GDP in the Middle East
  • History of civil war has held it back
  • Sanaa- capital
  • Land along the Red Sea, once known as Sheba, Queen of Sheba journeyed from here to visit Solomon, all the riches of that time have been used up
  • One of the hottest countries in the world- daytime temps reach 130*F
  • Wear long white robes and turbans to protect themselves from blowing sand in the Rub al Khali desert
  • Government is a sultanate– Sultan= Muslim monarch
  • Capital- Muscat, is on the coast
  • Controls Cape Musandam, on the narrowest part of the Gulf of Oman
united arab emirates
United Arab Emirates
  • Made up of 7 small states with their own traditions and princes (emirs)
  • Retain sovereignty over local affairs, but are now combined in one country
  • The 7 emirs form the Supreme Council and appoint a president as head of state
  • Richest country in the Persian Gulf, prosperity has brought in lots of immigrants
  • Capital: Abu Dhabi
  • Most populous city: Dubai, home to the world’s tallest building BurjKhalifa (2,717 ft)
  • Government type: Emirate
  • Capital: Doha
  • Grown rich from oil
  • More than 2/3 of the population are foreign-born
  • On a peninsula in the Persian Gulf, most of the land is desert, some salt flats in the south
  • People use the process of desalination to be able to drink the sea water
  • Held main headquarters for the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003
  • Also home to the controversial TV station- Al Jazeera
  • Consists of one large island and several small islands
  • Government type- Emirate
  • Capital- Manama
  • Many natural springs give Bahrain a resource that is rare in the Middle East: Fresh water
  • The ancient port of Dilmun has 4000 yr. old ruins
    • Ancient Sumerians said this was where Noah settled after the flood
  • Uninhabited until 1710, when Arab settlers discovered water near the present day capital: Kuwait City
  • Presence threatened by Saudi Arabia and Iraq
  • Joined OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in 1960
    • Decides how much oil to produce to control the prices and influence Western policies
  • Persian Gulf War: In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait claiming they had exceeded OPEC limits and that it was really a territory of Iraq, UN coalition used “all necessary means” to free Kuwait and protect the flow of oil, not a clear victory- left Saddam Hussein in power
  • Still heavily dependent on other countries – imports all food
iii iraq
III. Iraq
  • Tigris and Euphrates rivers are the most important rivers in the Middle East
    • Start in Turkey, flow through Iraq
  • Area in between called Mesopotamia (land between the rivers), home to early civilizations: Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria
  • Capital: Baghdad- associated with Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar, famous for being the setting for popular tales “Aladdin” “Ali Baba and the forty thieves”
    • Saddam Hussein often compared himself to and strove to be like Nebuchadnezzar
  • Kurds live in the northern highlands
    • In ancient times, this was the site of Nineveh
    • Great empire of northern Iraq: Assyrian Empire

Read Baghdad pg. 443

iv iran
IV. Iran
  • Iran is an ancient kingdom- the people are Persian not Arab
  • Persian Empire ruled all of modern day Iran
    • Iran was called Persia until 1935
  • Tehran is the capital and largest city
    • 12 million people, largest city in Persian Gulf too
  • Used to be ruled by a shah- a hereditary leader, but in 1979 radical Shiite Muslims overthrew the old ways and instituted an “Islamic Republic”
    • Continue to trouble the world- talk about wiping Israel off the face of the map
    • Defied UN efforts to prevent nuclear weapons
religion in iran
Religion in Iran
  • Shiite Muslims are the majority
    • Government required religious affiliation in 1993, uses that information to persecute Christians
  • Zoroastrianism- religion of the Persian Empire
    • Still practiced by a minority
    • Worship the god Ahura Mazda
  • Baha’ism
    • Based on writings by 2 renegade Shiites
    • Promote the unity of all religions
    • Offer no salvation from sin, their god is unknowable
    • Headquarters: Haifa, Israel