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Riyadh or Riad (both: rēädˈ) [key], city (1997 est. pop. 3,000,000), capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, in the Nejd, central Saudi Arabia. It is situated in an oasis, c.240 mi (390 km) inland from the Persian Gulf. Riyadh is the nation's educational, administrative, financial, and transportation center. Oil refining is the main industry. Riyadh is the focal point for desert travel and trade. Its architecture formerly represented the classic Arabic style, but in the oil boom of recent decades many buildings were torn down and replaced by large modern structures. Riyadh was long the center of the Wahhabi movement. In 1991, the city was slightly damaged by Iraqi missile attacks during the Persian Gulf War. By the late 1990s, Riyadh was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. It is the seat of King Fahd Univ., Imam Mohamed Univ., and other schools.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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