Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was effectively born in 1744, when patriarch of the Saud Dynasty, Muhammad Ibn Saud, joined forces with cleric Muhammad Abd El Wahhab to form a new political entity that would eradicate heresy in Islam and base all law on the Quran. This union formed the basis for Saudi dynastic rule of the large majority of the Arabian peninsula, including Islam’s two most holy sites, Mecca and Medina. Though the Saudis lost control over the area twice in the 19th century, first to the Ottomans and later to the Ha’il dynasty, King Ibn Saud reclaimed their ancestral lands between 1902 and 1926. In 1932, Saud unified the regions he controlled as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and, in 1938, the discovery of oil catapulted the Kingdom to regional and international prominence, assuring it significant wealth for years to come. To this day, Saudi Arabia is ruled exclusively by the Saud family, with no political parties, and the constitution is entirely based on the Koran and Sharia law. Saudi Arabia has been cited as one of the most authoritarian regime’s in the world and as having one of the worst human rights records, though the monarchy defends many of its practices, including torture and physical abuse of women, as part of ancient Islamic tradition.

Hip Hop in Saudi Arabia is relatively new and only beginning to emerge into the public sphere. Though young Saudis have been listening to the leading Middle Eastern rap groups for years on the Internet, the first Saudi rapper to break onto the regional scene, Qusai, only did so after growing up in the United States and returning to his native Jeddah in 2007, to form the first Saudi rap group, “Jeddah Legends”. In 2008, Qusai was chosen to co-host the new MTV Arabia Hip Hop competition show, “Hip Hopna”, putting Saudi Arabia on the Hip Hop map for the first time.

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