Modern Saudi Arabia
by Valerie Anishchenkova
June 2020, 365pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5704-1
$100, £75, 87€, A136
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5705-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Women were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia until June of 2018, when the country reversed a ban on female drivers in an attempt to help the economy.

This thematic encyclopedia examines contemporary and historical Saudi Arabia, with entries that fall under such themes as geography, history, government and politics, religion and thought, food, etiquette, media, and much more.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, known for its petroleum reserves and leadership role in the Middle East, is explored in this latest addition to the Understanding Modern Nations series. Organized into thematic chapters, Modern Saudi Arabia covers both history and contemporary daily life. Chapter topics include: Geography; History; Government and Politics; Economy; Religion and Thought; Social Classes and Ethnicity; Gender, Marriage, and Sexuality; Education; Language; Etiquette; Literature and Drama; Art and Architecture; Music and Dance; Food; Leisure and Sports; and Media and Popular Culture. Each chapter contains an overview of the topic and alphabetized entries on examples of each theme.

A detailed historical timeline spans from prehistoric times to the present. Special appendices are also included, offering profiles of a typical day in the life of representative members of Saudi society, a glossary, key facts and figures about Saudi Arabia, and a holiday chart. This volume will be useful for readers looking for specific topical information and for those who want to read entire chapters to gain a deeper perspective on aspects of modern Saudi Arabia.


  • Includes "Day in the Life" features that portray the specific daily activities of various people in Saudi Arabia, from teenagers to working adults in different fields, thereby providing readers with insight into daily life in the country
  • Defines key terms related to the reading in a glossary appendix
  • Provides at-a-glance information about Saudi Arabia's important religious and secular holidays in a chart of national holidays
  • Illuminates the text through photos and sidebars helping to illustrate key topics and allowing students to dive more deeply into ideas
  • Provides fun facts and anecdotal information in sidebars that help to engage readers
Valerie Anishchenkova is associate professor at the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Maryland. She is also core faculty in the Film Studies Program and core affiliate in Comparative Literature and was director of the Arabic Program and Arabic Flagship from 2010 until 2017. She is author of the book Autobiographical Identities in Contemporary Arab Culture. Her current research areas are identity studies, modern Arabic literature and culture, film and television studies, and cultural discourses on war.


"Recommended for high-school students and general readers interested in Saudi Arabia."—Booklist Online, November 13, 2020

"Highly recommended. General readers through faculty."—Choice, December 1, 2021

Understanding Modern Nations

The Understanding Modern Nations series profiles individual nations that are of interest to high school students and undergraduates, focusing on countries that are often studied in school as well as countries that have made major headlines in recent years.

With coverage of topics such as geography, history, politics and government, economy, society, culture, social media, pop culture, and personal accounts of daily life, these volumes serve as ideal resources for students of geography, social studies, anthropology, political science, and more. Additional topics examine religion, social classes and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, education, language, etiquette, literature and drama, art and architecture, music and dance, food, and leisure and sport.

General overviews of each topic provide students with a basic foundation on the subject, and entries pertaining to the topic—such as biographies of significant people in the field, iconic events, and key ideas—follow each overview. Sidebars and photos, facts and figures that are integral to better understanding the countries, a glossary of key terms, and a holidays chart round out the coverage in each of these accessible, engaging volumes.
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