A relatively stable society existed in the newly formed state of Saudi Arabia before the discovery of oil and the introduction of modern technology. Three basic ecological divisions remain important--the nomadic desert camp, the village, and the town-- but the country has entered a period of transition marked by changes both within the divisions and in their relations to one another. Moreover there now exist such modern cities as Jidda and Dhahran, which present entirely novel aspects and problems. The full implications of the changes that are taking place have not yet clearly emerged. In the meantime two contrasting principles of social organization traditionally present in the area still persist: organization in terms of kinship relations and organization by territorial or administrative divisions.
The kinship principle is apparent among the nomads, who move about in semiautonomous bands of kinsmen and count themselves members of larger tribal groupings on the basis of descent from a real or fictitious common ancestor. Each tribal subdivision owes allegiance to the sheikhs of successively larger units of the tribe but governs itself through a council of family heads or elders and a sheikh chosen from a particular family that enjoys the hereditary right to supply candidates for that position. The nomadic groups move on a seasonal round within well demarcated areas of the tribal territory.
Villages are of several different kinds depending upon the prevailing pattern of occupation and whether they are tribally or nontribally organized. The members of the tribal village are united not simply by common residence but by membership in a tribe, and the elders and the sheikh of such a village occupy their positions as tribal leaders. The inhabitants of the tribal village may be sedentary agriculturalists, or they may combine
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Saudi Arabia, Its People, Its Society, Its Culture. Contributors: George A. Lipsky - Author, Moukhtar Ani - Author, Mildred C. Bigelow - Author, F. Gillen - Author, Thomas J. Larson - Author, A. T. J. Matthews - Author, Charles H. Royce - Author, Sheila C. Gillen - Author. Publisher: HRAF Press. Place of publication: New Haven, CT. Publication year: 1959. Page number: 61.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.