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Continuity and change among the 'Utaiba tribe in the Al-Duwadmi province of Saudi Arabia: a socio-anthropological study

Al-Dajany, Manea K.


Manea K. Al-Dajany


Norman O'Neill


This study explores the nature and extent of social change within Saudi Arabia since 1970, focusing on the 'Utaiba tribe living in Al-Duwadmi province. The research examines continuity and change in al'Urf (traditional customary law), the economic system, family structure and function, and social solidarity. Differences in attitudes, values and behaviour between younger and older generations are also investigated.

A structural functional approach is adopted, which describes systems in terms of structures, mechanism, processes and functions. Particular attention is given to mechanisms of exchange by which social relationships are established and maintained.

Participant observation, a questionnaire survey, and in-depth interviews were conducted in 316 households in Al-Duwadmi city and 8 of the surrounding villages, 4 agrarian and 4 semi-nomadic.

The findings reveal many changes of lifestyle, though core values remain unchanged. Some al'Urf (traditional laws) continue to be observed, with modification, though there has been an erosion of the authority of tribal leaders, especially over the younger people. Social solidarity remains strong, the motive for exchange being religious as well as instrumental.

The 'Utaiba have benefited from the wider occupational opportunities brought by settlement and development, though they still cling to camel breeding as a source of status and symbol of identity. Various traditional crafts are declining under competition from mass-produced products, but education is making wider opportunities available to them. Increased reliance on hired foreign workers brings new cultural influences.

Despite changes in fashions and customs related to marriage and new forms of leisure, especially for the young, family solidarity and influence are essentially unchanged. Marriages are still mainly endogamous and residence patrilocal.

Overall economic and technological development have changed many aspects of 'Utaiba life, but have not challenged their Islamic values, social solidarity or sense of Beduw
(Bedouin) identity.


Al-Dajany, M. K. (2000). Continuity and change among the 'Utaiba tribe in the Al-Duwadmi province of Saudi Arabia: a socio-anthropological study. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 12, 2013
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Social sciences
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Comparative and Applied Social Sciences, The University of Hull
Award Date May 1, 2000


Thesis (21.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2000 Al-Dajany, Manea K. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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