With its huge oil reserves and notoriety regarding human rights issues, Saudi Arabia has long been a country in the global spotlight. This book traces the long history of this desert region, from the times before the creation of Saudi Arabia, to the political activities of the modern Saudi state, to recent developments in Arab and Muslim culture, enabling readers to grasp the country's key importance in 21st-century global politics. Educator and author Wayne H. Bowen provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of Saudi Arabia's history that makes clear this nation's political and economic significance as well as its vital role in the history and development of Islam. The second edition includes the most notable events from the past 10 years, such as King Abdullah's economic reforms after the 2011 Arab Spring protests and the passing of a law allowing women to vote. Organized chronologically, the revised edition contains updated appendices, an expanded bibliography featuring electronic resources, and new photographs and maps.