Is it Disrespectful to Call Saudia Arabia Just "Saudi"?

For a while now, especially after the first Gulf War, I’ve heard some Americans refer to Saudi Arabia as “Saudi”. I’ve never heard or read a reporter, politician, or diplomat call it that, usually it’s members of the military.

It always sounded a little odd to me as Saudi refers to a citizen, not a country. I tried to look this up online but came up empty.

Is that an “ok” shorthand name for SA? What do the Saudis think of it? Is it an insult? And if so, is it intentional?

I was going to put this is GQ but I think this might just come down to opinion.

And how do they refer to their country?

My hometown has a nickname that NO ONE who lives there uses. Everyone else thinks they’re being so cool by abbreviating it, while we natives cringe…

Oh, better example, it’s like “Frisco”!

Never heard anyone who’s from there use that name, and I’ve watched a number of them writhe in pain: “Oh my god, WHY would you call it that? Are you a ‘Bro’ who has to say everything shortened and hipster?”

My Arabic is pants, but more like as-Saudiyyah, or however you want to render it in English. Now I’m sure many citizens would like to see the Al Saud all lined up against a wall and shot and therefore don’t appreciate the name, but that is a different can of worms.

Paging @Paul_was_in_Saudi

Nope. We all call it “Saudi,” or “the Kingdom” with a capital K. No problem at all.

Saudi or Saudia? “Kingdom” is feminine, right?

I was a Petroleum Engineer and we had a bunch of Saudi kids in my program in college and they certainly referred to it as Saudi. One of them we in the royal family though I don’t remember him specifically using it.

Yes, the full name is Al-Mamlakah al-ʿArabīyah as-Suʿūdīyah. But in English, it’s the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the Arabia of the Saud family), as English doesn’t have the same gendered suffix rules.

I’ve only ever known one actual Saudi, and that was decades ago; I don’t remember how he referred to the country. But all the other Arabs I’ve known commonly referred to the country as “Saudi” when referring to it in English.

Sidetrack: Looking it up just now to double-check myself, I realize I’ve been pronouncing it incorrectly this entire time, even when I was trying to use the correct Arabic pronunciation. I was pronouncing it Saʿūdī, as the common English transliteration is Saudi, when it’s actually Suʿūdī. The ’ marker there is the consonant 'ayn, which doesn’t have an English equivalent - it’s a sort of gargled stop, and it significantly changes the surrounding vowelling. Native English speakers tend to hear the 'ayn as kind of a gargled “a” or “o” sound, hence “Saudi”, when it’s really “Su’udi”. Somehow, I don’t think I ever realized that before.

I use “KSA”.

I’ll defer to the experts here, but calling it “Saudi” just feels off to my inner pedant, since that word is really an adjective in its usage here. It’d be like calling this country “the United.”

Yeah. It feels off to me, too. I think it’d be like calling the United States “Americans”. The thing that surprises me most in the posts so far is that, according to gdave and Oredigger, it’s not just Americans but also Saudis and Arabs who call it “Saudi”. I’d love to hear that mostly because it would seem so weird. I guess since the Saudis and Arabs in question were speaking to Americans (sorry, I’m assuming here) they just used the same English language term that they heard.

I wonder what Saudis and Arabs in general called it 50 or 60 years ago when speaking English. And I’m curious what Brits, Canooks, Kiwis and Aussies call it now and what they called it before say–1970 or 1980.

I thank you guys who are more familiar with that part of the world than I am for giving me the 411. I’m still gonna think it odd though. How long has it been called that? I have heard Americans use that term many times but never before 1980 or so (then the term was “Saudi Arabians” which is still what I hear politicians, diplomats, and journalists call it even today*). I defer to you guys but it’d interesting to have examples of what Americans and other English speakers have called it over the years.

*I also wonder: why are there–in my experience–large groups of “official” Americans that use the term “Saudi Arabia” or “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and then others like those in this thread that call it Saudi?

What’s actually the difference between a relative (nisbah) adjective and a relative noun in Arabic?

I couldn’t say - it’s just that in the English phrase “Saudi Arabia”, Arabia is the noun and Saudi is the adjective. Saudi Arabia is the part of the region of Arabia that is controlled by the House of Saud.

Again, I’m not challenging that “Saudi” is what the people themselves call it, I just saying it feels weird to me.

When I lived in Egypt, a lot of people called Saudi Arabia “Saudi.”

When I lived in Southeast Asia, a lot of people called Kuala Lumpur “KL.”

When I lived in Africa, a lot of people called Johannesburg “Jo-burg.”

When I lived in New England, a lot of people called Provincetown “P-town.”

Shortening names that are frequently used seems like a natural human tendency. Unless there is specific evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to assume a nickname is bigoted or derisive.

I once worked with a woman who had worked in Saudi Arabia, as part of a healthcare worker exchange. She would have worked there in the early 1980s. She frequently referred to it as simply, “Saudi,” when she talked about her time there: “When I was in Saudi, we quite liked …” That sort of thing.

Heh. I’m originally from “T.O.” (pronounced “Tio” and signifying “Toronto, Ontario”); and I’ve spent a lot of time in Lethbridge, Alberta, which southern Albertans often refer to as just “L.A.” It was a little jarring, when visiting Lethbridge for the first time years ago, to see city buses passing by, bearing the legend, “L.A. Transit,” and knowing that I wasn’t in California. :slight_smile:

We should call it by its proper name…Arabia Deserta..

I hope no doper ever finds out what “Sudan” means. And by extension Sudani.

One correction/backtrack: I wrote “all the Arabs I’ve known”, which is an over-statement; I don’t remember all the conversations I’ve ever had with Arabs in that much detail. But the use of “Saudi” was common among the Arabs I’ve known. But, of course, when they were talking with me, they were talking with an American. All the conversations I’ve overheard were also with Americans, and all the Arabs I’ve known mostly if not exclusively dealt with Americans when speaking in English. So it’s very possible they were just using a common Americanism. I know I’ve discussed Saudia Arabia in Arabic with Arabs, but I don’t remember how they referred to the country in Arabic; those were all formal or academic conversations, though, so they probably wouldn’t have used a familiar shortened form.

Because the official short-form name in English is Saudi Arabia and the official long-form name is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “Saudi” is a slang term. I used “Saudi” and heard it being used in conversation. I’d never refer to it that way in a formal, official context, and I never encountered it referred to that way, as far as I can remember, in any formal contexts.

That’s what gets under my skin as well. It’s the incorrect use of the adjective I think, even though I know it’s a very common usage. It’s primarily when it’s used as a noun- somehow using the term as a descriptor of people doesn’t get me the same way, probably because other nationality descriptors are basically plural adjectives as well - Mexicans, Cubans, Germans, and so on.

But “We spent a month in Saudi” bugs me because it’s like saying “I spent a week in United”, instead of saying “I spent a week in the United Kingdom”.

A lot of people have started referring to my city as “Awatto”, because someone in the city government didn’t realize that this sign has two sides.