Arabia was probably the original home of the Semites. Beginning
in the 4th millennium BC, these ancient peoples moved into Mesopotamia
and Palestine, where they came to be identified as Assyro-Babylonians,
Canaanites, and Amorites.
Saudi culture is based on Islam and the perfection of the Arabic
language. The Saudi form of Islam is conservative and fundamentalist,
based on the 18th-century revivalist movement of the Najdi leader
Shaikh Mohammed Ibn Abdel-Wahhab. This still has a great effect
on Saudi society, especially on the position of women, who do not
generally go out without being totally covered in black robes (abaya)
and masks, although there are regional variations of dress. The
Najd and other remote areas remain true to Wahhabi tradition, but
throughout the country this way of life is being threatened by modernisation
and rapid development.