Source: Pew Research Center
Since his father became Saudi Arabia’s king in 2015, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has taken dramatic steps to change his country’s political and economic life. But the 32-year-old heir to the throne also has begun to soften the kingdom’s strict religious rules with a promise to return to “moderate Islam.” Among the changes he’s spearheaded: granting women the right to drive, reintroducing cinemas and curbing the sweeping powers of the religious police.
Here are five facts about religion in Saudi Arabia — a country that is the birthplace of Islam and, as such, holds special importance for Muslims worldwide.
1Saudi Arabia has a young and rapidly growing Muslim population.The kingdom has more than 30 millioninhabitants, and roughly 93% of them are Muslim, according to Pew Research Center data. The country is officially a Muslim nation and most Saudi Muslims are Sunni. However, a Shia minority accounts for an estimated 10% to 15% of the population. Additionally, Saudi Arabia is a young country: In 2015, about 56% of the kingdom’s Muslims were under the age of 30. The number of Muslims in Saudi Arabia is projected to increase 51% between 2015 and 2050, though their share of the global Muslim population is expected to remain small at about 2%.