Saudi Arabia and Iran Separated by the Persian Gulf, the two neighboring countries that have been competing for dominance over the past few decades in a region referred to as The Middle East. Both apparently hate each other. Well, at least their governments do. In recent years, the two countries have been either directly or indirectly involved in several different conflicts throughout the Middle East. Both countries are run by theocracies, or governments made up of religious leaders. Their religion? Islam. However, Iran does have democracy and a constitution, making it officially a theocratic republic. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. The king is in charge. making decisions under the guidance of religious leaders and top princes of the royal family. In Saudi Arabia, the Quran is the official constitution of the country. But yeah, both countries have really authoritarian governments, both ranking near the bottom on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. An example of this? Both have state-run broadcast media that dominate how citizens get information and regularly feed them pro-government propaganda. There are no private, independent broadcasters. Satellite dishes are even banned in both countries, although people still have them anyway. Private newspapers or magazines are heavily censored. That all said, Iran is a bit more free than Saudi Arabia. At least their government has to be somewhat accountable or they get the boot. And in Saudi Arabia, it’s illegal to be an atheist, punishable by death. Wait, what’s that? Oh, apparently you can get killed for being an atheist in Iran, too. The vast majority of citizens in both countries are Muslims. However, they are of two different branches of Islam. Around 90-95% in Iran practice Shia Islam, whereas around 85%-90% in Saudi Arabia practice Sunni Islam. This Shia-Sunni divide has been contentious for centuries and always demonstrated an underlying rift between the two countries. But Saudi Arabia can boast Islam started within its borders. It regularly attracts millions to Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities for Muslims. Medina is where the founder of Islam, Muhammad, is buried. Mecca, the holiest city of them all, attracts Muslims from all over the world each year with the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage all Muslims are expected to make at least once in their life. Both countries have a similar birth rate and a similar population growth rate. However, Iran has 2 and a half times more people than Saudi Arabia, despite the fact that it has less land area. The two countries actually aren’t that dramatically different in size. Both countries have capital cities that are the largest cities in both. Tehran, the capital of Iran, does have 2.2 million more people than Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, though. Both border a lot of countries. Iran borders 7 and Saudi Arabia borders 8! One of those 15 countries is the same. Both border Iraq. Speaking of Iraq, both countries have lots of oil. In fact, both countries have economies largely dependent on the oil industry. Petroleum, petrochemicals, natural gas, refining…in recent years, both countries have tried to branch out and diversify their economies with limited success. Of the two, Iran has done better with creating new industries. The life expectancy in both countries is about the same. Both have major national holidays that celebrate the modern founding of their country. In its modern form, Iran became a country on April 1, 1979 after the Iranian Revolution, although way before that the Persian Empire had roots as far back as 550 BC. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded on September 23, 1932. Both were settled by humans earlier than most places around the world. What would become Saudi Arabia was first settled at least 125,000 years ago and what would become Iran settled at least 100,000 years ago. Ok, so the differences certainly outnumber the similarities. Some I already mentioned, but here are the rest. Saudi Arabia has more coastline than Iran…well, unless you count the Caspian Sea, then Iran has more. Speaking of water, Saudi Arabia is surrounded by the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, while Iran is surrounded by the Caspian Sea, Gulf of Oman and also the Persian Gulf. On average, it’s 6% more expensive to live in Saudi Arabia compared to Iran. However, inflation is much higher in Iran. Incredibly, it was 10.5% in 2017. Citizens of Iran make around 66.5% less on money on average than citizens of Saudi Arabia. A much higher percentage of citizens in Saudi Arabia are connected to the internet than Iran. Although Iran’s economy is steadily growing and Saudi Arabia’s economy is kind of stagnant right now, Saudi Arabia still has much more wealth. Their GDP per capita is four times the GDP per capita of Iran. And with more wealth, comes more obesity, which is more common in Saudi Arabia. The unemployment rate is much higher in Iran. Sorry Iran, here, let me make you look better. Women have a lot less rights in Saudi Arabia. They have to cover up when they go out in public. They can only vote in local elections, and men there only recently allowed them to drive. In Iran, they can run for national office, have more freedom to go wherever they please and wear what they want, and more opportunities to get a good education. While both countries ban alcohol, in Iran you can get some if you are one of the few folks living there who is not a Muslim. Saudi Arabia is much more dry. Heh, heh, heh. Not as dry as YOU, Mr. Beat. Yeah, anyway…It has a harsh, sandy desert climate for the most part, with the exception of the highlands in Asir which get more rainfall. It gets pretty hot during the day throughout most of the country, although it’s not too bad in the winter. Iran’s climate is much more varied. It goes from arid to semiarid to continental in the northwest, with much more precipitation in the northern mountains. Most of the country is pretty dry, though. Wait mountains? Yeah, Iran has more. It’s more rugged and varied. With those mountains comes more earthquakes, though. The biggest natural disaster Saudi Arabia has to worry about is sand storms. Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world…without a river. Iran has a strategic location that Saudi Arabia doesn’t have- the Strait of Hormuz, the only way by sea from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean. Even though Iran isn’t the ONLY country that controls it, they certainly have used it as leverage when talking trash to other countries in recent years. Iran is more diverse, in terms of ethnicity anyway. While Saudi Arabia is about 90% Arab, Iran notably has citizens who identify as Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, and Turkic peoples. Saudi Arabia is more urban, mostly because look at its rural areas. I mean…yeah. Saudi Arabia has 13 provinces. Iran has 31. Saudi Arabia spends a lot more money on education, 5.1% of its GDP, compared with Iran spending 2.9% of its GDP. It also spends a lot more money on its military, 4 and a half times as much as Iran. Iran has more soldiers, at least partially due to the fact that all men have to join the military there once they turn 18. Neither country has nukes…yet. And maybe that’s a good place to end it, because when you search online comparing these two countries, you find that most people want to know the difference between their militaries, maybe because they assume the two will be fighting in a future war with each other since their governments supposedly hate each other. But once both governments decide to get along, they will realize they would be quite the powerhouse if they just united. The two combined, after all, produce 18% of the world’s oil. A shout out to my newest Patreon supporter, Igor Brejc. And I know, this video could have been a lot longer, but I have to draw the line somewhere. So are any of you from Saudi Arabia or Iran per chance? Have you been to either place at least? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. I had a lot of fun researching these two countries. and I’m about to reach 50,000 subscribers. So this is very exciting. I’d like to do a livestream to celebrate. and if you have any questions for me, if you want me to answer them in the livestream let me know below. Thanks for watching! I’ll be back next time with a brand new episode of Supreme Court Briefs.