The Saudi peninsula is Asia's westernmost corner, host to large expatriate populations from the Philippines, Indonesia and the Indian sub-continent. As the custodian of Islam's holiest sites, the kingdom is a beacon for the Islamic world, and its massive oil reserves give it such economic heft that rulers of the world's largest and most powerful nations feel obliged to drive to the airport to receive the Saudi potentate when he shows up on his rare visits.
Latterly, the tight relationship between West Asia's dominant power and the United States, the world's only superpower, has grown even closer; not only has President Donald Trump made Saudi Arabia the lynchpin of his Middle East strategy aimed at cornering Iran and buttressing Israel, he also has seemed to wink at his ally settling some private scores along the way. How else to explain his tolerance of Riyadh's efforts to isolate Qatar, a nation that offers base facilities for the US Air Force.
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