|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (August 2010)|
As of 2005 more than 500,000 people lived in the area. As of that year, many middle income Saudis lived in Al-Suwaidi. John R. Bradley, author of Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis, described the district as a "slum" that has "a massive entanglement of narrow lanes, pot-holed roads, and open sewers." Power and water outages often happen in the district.
Many people migrating from the rural areas went to Al-Suwaidi during the "oil boom" in the 1970s and early 1980s. Shaker Abu Taleb and Asharq Al-Awsat of the Arab News said in 2005 that the community "was originally beyond the capital’s congestion; that is, however, no longer the case." Bradley said that Al-Suwaidi has a reputation "for being a bastion of strict Wahhabism" within the people living in Saudi Arabia. Bradley added that the men "hardly need incitement" to contrast their own lives with wealthy Saudi princes and foreigners.
Shaker Abu Taleb and Asharq Al-Awsat of the Arab News said in 2005 that the community "is considered one of Riyadh’s older residential districts" and that Al-Suwaidi's "entrances and exits are numerous and it teems with residents. They added that overall, "its buildings are not new" and that "many date back to the boom years and its infrastructure is also not as recent and modern as much of Riyadh’s."
An Indian quoted in the Arab News in 2005, who had lived in Al-Suwaidi for a 15 year period before 2005, said that Al-Suwaidi was a bastion of "mutawwas," which are very religious people. He explained that many activities occurred at area mosques. In 2005 many signs asking visitors to think of God (Allah) were visible.
The district gained notoriety in 2003 when a 26-man list of "most wanted terrorists" published by the Saudi government contained 15 men who were said to have links with the neighborhood. Shaker Abu Taleb and Asharq Al-Awsat of the Arab News said that many Saudis compared Al-Suwaidi to Fallujah, Iraq, a site of fighting during the Iraq War.
Ibrahim al-Rayyes, a terrorist suspect killed in a shootout with police, lived in Al-Suwaidi. In a 2003 list of most wanted Islamic fundamentalist militants, al-Rayyes and about 14 of the 26 other suspects had either come from or lived in Al-Suwaidi. More than half of those suspects were graduates of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.
According to John R. Bradley, author of Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis, parts of Al-Suwaidi become "no go" to the police in the night time. Guerilla warfare occurred in Al-Suwaidi. BBC journalists Simon Cumbers and Frank Gardner were attacked in Al-Suwaidi; Gardner was with a cameraman to film al-Rayyes's house. The attackers were easily able to escape due to the layout of the neighborhood.
- Bradley, John R. Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan 2005. 146.
- "Al-Suwaidi: In the News for All the Wrong Reasons", by Shaker Abu Taleb and Asharq Al-Awsat, January 9, 2005, Arab News
- "Profile: Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin ", June 19, 2004, BBC News
- Bradley, John R. Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan 2005. 147.