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Saudi Arabia - Glossary Index
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook

      Glossary -- Saudi Arabia

      Uppercase connotes family or belonging to, as in Al Saud (q.v.), or Al Sudairi; lowercase represents the definite article the, as in Rub al Khali.
      Al Saud
      Literally, the House of Saud; the patrilineal descendants of Muhammad ibn Saud.
      Strictly speaking, commander. In Saudi Arabia, amir often means prince, but can mean governor of a province.
      barrels per day (bpd)
      Production of crude oil and petroleum products is frequently measured in barrels per day and often abbreviated as bpd. A barrel is a volume measure of forty-two United States gallons. Conversion of barrels to tons depends on the density of the specific product. About 17.3 barrels of average crude oil weigh one ton. Light products such as gasoline and kerosene would average close to eight barrels per ton.
      Divided Zone
      Originally a shared area between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Each country annexed its half of the zone in 1966 but continued to respect the other country's right to the national resources in the whole zone.
      The oil industry views the production, processing, transportation, and sale of petroleum products as a flow process starting at the wellhead. Downstream includes any stage between the point of reference and the sale of products to the consumer. Upstream is the converse. Upstream of the wellhead includes exploration and drilling of wells.
      An authoritative legal interpretation by a mufti or religious jurist that can provide the basis for court decision or government action.
      fiscal year (FY)
      Initially based on Islamic lunar year (see Preface). Since December 1986 based on Gregorian calendar. Fiscal year begins 31 December and runs through following 30 December.
      GDP (gross domestic product)
      A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services produced by an economy over a period of time, such as a year. Only output values of goods for final consumption and investment are included because the values of primary and intermediate production are assumed to be included in final prices. GDP is sometimes aggregated and shown at market prices, meaning that indirect taxes and subsidies are included; when these have been eliminated, the result is GDP at factor cost. The word gross indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have not been made. See also GNP.
      GNP (gross national product)
      The gross domestic product (q.v.) plus the net income or loss stemming from transactions with foreign countries. For Saudi Arabia, GNP in the 1970s and early 1980s was significantly larger than GDP because of surplus oil revenues. GNP is the broadest measurement of the output of goods and services by an economy. It can be calculated at market prices, which include indirect taxes and subsidies. Because indirect taxes and subsidies are only transfer payments, GNP is often calculated at factor cost by removing indirect taxes and subsidies.
      Tradition based on the precedent of the Prophet Muhammad's words and deeds that serves as one of the sources of Islamic law.
      Literally, to migrate, to sever relations, to leave one's tribe. Throughout the Muslim world, hijra refers to the migration to Medina of Muhammad and his early followers. In this sense, the word has come into European languages as hegira.
      hujar (collective pl.)
      Refers to the agricultural settlements of the Ikhwan (q.v.), which combined features of religious missions, farming communities, and army camps. Word from same root as hijra; has sense of separation from previous affiliation.
      The brotherhood of desert warriors, founded by Abd al Aziz, who were settled in the hujar (q.v.).
      A word used in several senses. In general use, it means the leader of congregational prayers; as such it implies no ordination or special spiritual powers beyond sufficient education to carry out this function. It is also used figuratively by many Sunni (q.v.) Muslims to mean the leader of the Islamic community. Among Shia (q.v.) the word takes on many complex meanings; in general, however, and particularly when capitalized, it indicates that particular descendant of the House of Ali who is believed to have been God's designated repository of the spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and the means of ascertaining his identity have been major issues causing divisions among Shia.
      International Monetary Fund (IMF)
      Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.
      Tribal council; in some countries the legislative assembly. Also the audience of the king, amir (q.v.), or shaykh (q.v.) open to all citizens for the purposes of adjudication.
      Literally, those who volunteer or obey; sometimes known by popular name of Committees for Public Morality, or more formally, as the Committees for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
      riyal (SR)
      Saudi Arabia's currency unit. Riyal is pegged to the International Monetary Fund (q.v.) special drawing rights (SDR--a unit consisting of a basket of international currencies) as SR4.28 = SDR1. In May 1993 the exchange rate was SR3.75 = US$1, a rate that had not changed since June 1, 1986.
      Islamic law.
      sharif (Arabic pl., ashraf)
      Specifically, one who has descent from Muhammad through his daughter Fatima. Literally, noble, exalted, having descent from illustrious ancestors. Frequently used as an honorific.
      Leader or chief. Applied either to political leaders of tribes or towns or learned religious leaders. Also used as an honorific.
      Shia (from Shiat Ali, the Party of Ali)
      A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. The Shia supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right to the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim community, and on this issue they divided from the Sunni (q.v.) in the major schism within Islam. Later schisms have produced further divisions among the Shia over the identity and number of imams (q.v.). Most Shia revere Twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be hidden from view.
      spot oil
      Oil sold on the open market without any precontractual arrangement.
      The larger of the two great divisions of Islam. The Sunni, who rejected the claims of Ali's line, believe that they are the true followers of the sunna, the guide to proper behavior set forth by Muhammad's personal deeds and utterances.
      Name used outside Saudi Arabia to designate adherents to Wahhabism (q.v.).
      Name used outside Saudi Arabia to designate official interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia. The faith is a puritanical concept of unitarianism (the call to the oneness or unity of God--ad dawa lil tawhid) that was preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab, whence his Muslim opponents derived the name.
      In Muslim law, a permanent endowment or trust, usually of real estate, in which the proceeds are spent for purposes designated by the benefactor. Usually devoted to charitable purposes.
      World Bank
      Informal name used to designate a group of four affiliated international institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans to developing countries for productive projects. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance specifically designed to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less developed countries. The MIGA, founded in 1988, insures private foreign investment in developing countries against various noncommercial risks. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The four institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.).

    NOTE: The information regarding Saudi Arabia on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Saudi Arabia Glossary information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Saudi Arabia Glossary should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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