The first modern mapping of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established after an inter-governmental agreement with the United States in 1954. 1:500,000 scale mapping was compiled from aerial photographs by United States Geological Survey (USGS) and published in two parallel series, each covering Saudi Arabia in 21 sheets. These maps comprised a four-color geographical edition and a geological map, prepared with ground interpretation by the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), and were used as sources for the compilation of 1:2,000,000 scale coverage of the Kingdom. The maps have been revised and are available from the civilian earth science and topographic mapping agency of the Kingdom, the Deputy Ministry for Mineral Resources (DMMR) in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Jiddah.
1:50,000 and 1:100,000 scale topographic programs were established in the 1960s on the UTM projection, International ellipsoid, by Clyde Surveys, Great Britain, in a contract with the Aerial Survey Department, another branch of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. This work also saw the creation of numerous large scale city and wadi maps of the country. Since 1975 topographic coverage of Saudi Arabia has also been produced by the Military Survey Department, in the Ministry of Defence and Aviation. These civilian and military programs were compiled on contract by a number of different western agencies and published as six-color photomaps (for desert areas) or as full-color line mapping. Maps are on the Transverse Mercator projection, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid, with a UTM grid. Each 1:50,000 sheet covers a 15′ x 15′ quadrangle, while 1:100,000 scale sheets cover areas of 30′ x 30′. Coverage has progressively extended starting from the areas of greatest economic interest where petroleum exploration is taking place. Larger scale topographic mapping has been carried out in some parts of the country, notably a 1:25,000 scale survey of the Jiddah and Riyadh region, and urban mapping has been issued at a number of larger scales.
Soviet military topographic mapping of Saudi Arabia is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (17 sheets, complete coverage, published 1973-1990); 1:500,000 (46 sheets, complete coverage, published 1972-1989); 1:200,000 (314 sheets, complete coverage, published 1972-1991); 1:100,000 (314 sheets, primarily northern and coastal coverage, published 1975-1986) and city (1:10,000 to 1:25,000) topographic mapping of Al Hufuf, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina and Riyadh published between 1978 and 1983. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.
DMMR is using digital mapping in internal information systems, and for the compilation of other products, for example the Kingdom-wide Atlas of mineral resources published in 1993. A revised version of the 1:2,000,000 scale map of the Arabian Peninula has been prepared in conjunction with ARAMCO and the former United States Defense Mapping Agency, (now National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA)) on a LANDSAT image base, showing cultural and physical features.
EDX Engineering an American commercial vendor has captured digital terrain data for Saudi Arabia.
USGS and the French Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM) have participated in DMMR mapping programs and both maintain headquarters attached to the DMMR building in Jeddah. Since 1963 a 1:100,000 scale geological program has been carried out and is now completed in 253 sheets for all of the oil-rich Arabian shield. Other 1:100,000 scale geoscience maps are also published for some areas, as mineral investigation sheets and industrial mineral resources maps.
Satellite data have also been used since the mid-1970s in the production of 1:250,000 scale mapping and geodetically controlled two-color LANDSAT image mosaics are used as bases in topographic and geological programmes. These series now cover most of Saudi Arabia, apart from the most remote and unsettled desert areas, with sheet sizes of 1° latitude by 1° 30′ longitude. Three editions are published: a full color geological printing, a geographic edition with settlement, drainage and communication information overlaid on a LANDSAT image base, and a combination of geology and image map. These maps are derived from six 1:100,000 scale quads, supplemented by field checking and are accompanied by explanatory notes. Other 1:250,000 scale mapping on the same sheet lines includes hydrogeological and aeromagnetic mapping.
Thematic mapping of Saudi Arabia has been published, mostly at 1:2,000,000 scale in the Tϋbinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients.
A historical gazetteer of Arabia was started in the late 1970s under the editorship of A.A. Scoville, and follows the pattern of Iranian and Afghanistani multi-volume works also published by Akademische Druck und Verlagsanstalt, Graz, Austria.
Cadastral mapping of Saudi Arabia is the responsibility of the Director General for Surveying in the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Deputy Ministry for Town Planning.
Farsi Maps Jiddah is the most important commercial publisher in the Kingdom with a range including town maps of Riyadh, Jiddah and Mecca, image maps, atlases and road and tourist maps. Amongst other commercially available mapping of Saudi Arabia are regularly revised maps from GEOprojects, and Kϋmmerly+Frey (K+F), and from Iranian publisher Sahab.