The Barony of Dar'iya
T AMERLANE had been dead but less than half a century; the Moors were still in Spain for another half-century; and Columbus was yet to discover America some fifty years on: when, in the year 1446, an insignificant citizen of al Qatif, or rather a suburb thereof called Dar'iya, went off on a visit to a cousin, Ibn Dira', who had settled long since at Manfuha, near Riyadh, in Central Arabia. The cousin, chief of the Duru' settlers in the now abandoned hamlets of al Jiz'a and Hajar al Yamama, was evidently a man of substance, with property needing development along the course of Wadi Hanifa. At any rate he presented his visitor with the two fiefs of Ghasiba and al Mulaibid, situated about a dozen miles upstream of his own domain. Such were the simple beginnings of the Duru' settlement in the great wadi, which came to be known in later years as Dar'iya in remembrance of the parent village near the Persian Gulf, which had nurtured its founders.
It is not quite certain whether the actual recipient of these estates was Mani' al Muraidi himself, who had certainly initiated the correspondence with his Jiz'a cousin, or his son Rabi'a. It was the latter in any case who laid the foundations of the colony's prosperity by assiduous development and aggressive expansion at the expense of his neighbours. But to Mani' and his father, Rabi'a, belongs the honour of being the earliest traceable ancestors of the House of Sa'ud, which has so conspicuously dominated the Arabian scene through all the vicissitudes of the last 200 years. Sa'ud the eponymous founder of the dynasty was his great-great-great-great-great-grandson; and the present king of Sa'udi Arabia is his direct descendant in the fifteenth generation, while the House which he founded seems reasonably assured of immortality: having already reached the seventeenth generation in numbers calculated to ensure its indefinite perpetuation into times which none of us are likely to see.
For some reason, unrecorded in the annals of Arabia, the valley of Wadi Hanifa seems to have attracted widespread atten