Saudi Arabia, also known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is an absolute Islamic monarchy located in a region of Southwest Asia also known as the Middle East. It is bordered by Jordan and the former nation of Iraq to the north and northeast; by Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the east; Oman on the southeast; and Yemen on the south. Additionally, it borders the Persian Gulf to the northeast and the Red Sea to the west.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by Ab al-Aziz bin Abd al-Rahman Al Saud (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. In 1933, the Kingdom established diplomatic relations with the United States. The country became wealthy as the U.S. and the West began purchasing its oil. During the Cold War, Saudi Arabia was part of the U.S.-led bloc. The U.S. backed Saudi Arabia as part of its policy in containing the Islamic Republic of Iran, which became anti-American following Ayatollah Khomeni's seizure of the country during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. By the 1980s, the U.S. Air Force had a small pressence in Saudi Arabia in the form of assisting and training pilots of the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Kingdom was also providing funds and small arms to mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.