Saudi Arabia’s Ethnic Groups And Nationalities

A Saudi Arabian family enjoying quality time together in a park.
A Saudi Arabian family enjoying quality time together in a park.

90% of native residents are Saudi Arabs. Peoples of mixed Asian and African ancestry are the largest native minority, while 33% of all residents are foreign-bornSaudi Arabia, officially known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is located in West Asia with an estimated area of 830,000 square miles, making it the fifth largest country in Asia. Saudi Arabia houses a resident population of 28.7 million people. It has two coastlines, one being on the Red Sea coast and the other being the Persian Gulf coast. Vast expanses of the country contain very inhospitable deserts which most forms of life cannot thrive in. The kingdom was founded in 1932 and ever since has faced criticism due to gender inequality and poor status of women in the community. It is a multi-ethnic nation with over nine ethnic groups discussed below.

Saudi Arabs

Saudi Arabia's Ethnic Groups
Saudi Arabia’s Ethnic Groups

Saudi Arabs, also known as Saudis, are the native-born Arabic peoples of Saudi Arabia. They form 60.7% of the entire population which is approximately 19.3 million, and thus are by far the largest ethnic group in the country. They speak the national language as well as their mother tongue, the peninsular Arabic language or the southern Arabic language. In early 1900, the Saudis were majorly nomadic but due to the rapid economic growth and urbanization, almost the entire population is settled and are majorly found in three towns. These are Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. They are typically deeply religious, conservative, traditional, and family-oriented, just as their customs dictate.



Syrians refer to the Arabic people of Syria, a small country lying to the north of Saudi Arabia in West Asia. They form 9.7% of the entire population which can be roughly estimated as 2.6 million. Some of these Syrians are forced to flee the country due to increased unemployment or political instability. There have been conflicting statements about facts on settlement of Syrians in the country as it also faced significant criticisms for lack of provision of homes to these refugees. Syrians in Saudi Arabia have over the years been referred to as Arab brothers and sisters in distress.


Brazilian Indians
Brazilian Indians

People from India in Saudi Arabia comprise the second largest expatriate group in the country after those from Syria. There has been a gradual increase in the number of Indians in the country from 1975 to 2004. In 2015, the number of immigrants doubled due to the signing of the agreement meant to manage and recruit domestic workers in January 2014 by both nations. There also was a provision which guaranteed a payment of US $2,500 to every employee recruited therefore more people migrated to Saudi Arabia for employment.

Combined African and Asian Ancestry

These peoples are also commonly referred to as Afro-Asians or African-Asians. They form 6.7% of the entire Saudi Arabian population, but over the years this has been marginalized due to human migration arising from social conflicts. These native-born could be black or brown in completion, and according to the Arab culture, the black color is cherished very much. Their population rose to the highlights due to human slave trade where women were traded to become concubines and males as security guards in the country.

Other Ethnic Groups in Saudi Arabia

There are other, smaller ethnic groups in the country in addition to those mentioned above. They include Pakistanis with Pakistani ancestry, including those born either within or outside Saudi Arabia. Filipinos who either migrated from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia or were born in the country but with Philippines descent. Bangladeshi with descent from Bangladesh who came to Saudi Arabia primarily as workers and Egyptian who migrated to the country after monarchy was overthrown in the 1980s.