Geography & Calendar
All Muslims are obliged to pray in the direction of the Holy City of Makkah five times a day. The times of prayer are: dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening, with the exact times are published daily in Saudi newspapers. At these times, facilities and offices in the public and private sectors stop work and people gather in public places to pray in groups.
All of the Kingdom is under one time zone, which is GMT plus three hours.
Weather conditions in Saudi Arabia can vary dramatically from one region to the next. The Rub Al-Khali ("Empty Quarter") is characterized by extremely hot and dry conditions but the verdant Asir highlands just nearby are relatively cold and moist.
Oftentimes in many regions of the Kingdom, the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures can exceed 50 degrees (F) during the summer. In the winter, overnight low temperatures approach the freezing mark at areas with higher elevations.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies four-fifths of the Arabian Peninsula-865,000 square miles. This is an area about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Geography is varied. Forest, grasslands, rugged mountain ranges and vast deserts all characterize the Saudi landscape.
Saudi Arabia follows the Islamic (Hijri) calendar, which is based upon the lunar cycles and dates from the Prophet Muhammad’s flight from Makkah to Madinah.
The Islamic year (AH) averages 354 days and recedes by about 11 days a year against the Gregorian calendar. The first day of the Hijri calendar is 1 Muharram.