Add to Facebook
download .zip with all pictures
The divide has been historical. The Hejaz has always been less inclined with Wahhabi Islam. In fact, only around 22% of Saudis actually identify with Wahhabi Islam. Wahhabi Islam is more prominent in the Najd region where Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab was born, raised, and preached. Its also the base and home of the Saud royal family. The Hashemites (Jordan) are from the Hejaz region, and though they have always been Orthodox Sunni Muslims, they were heavily influenced by Sufi Islam. The Eastern parts of the Arabian peninsula has a large Twelver Shi’a population, and southern Saudi Arabia has a prominent Zaidi Shi’a population.
The Hejaz is also far more cosmopolitan than other parts of the Arabian peninsula. Mecca and Medina are located in the Hejaz as well as the port city of Jeddah. I lived in the Hejaz region for almost a decade and visit it regularly, and the religious police presence is almost entirely absent (even more so since the former King really curtailed their power). It’s not at all uncommon to see women without the veil and barely wearing a hijab walking around. Non-Muslim women aren’t even expected to wear the Abaya or wear the headscarf (though they have to dress modestly) so I’ve actually seen White, Filipino, and Sri Lankan women walk around in their regular clothing.
Fun fact: Wahhabis don’t even form the majority of followers in other Gulf states.