Saudi Arabia: Extended Families

I said that the extended family is important in the Arab world.  Miles Seeley, who knows that world  well, comments:  Any Saudi Arabian male knows his family history back at least five generations, usually more. It's a confusing business for Westerners (all those "son of" and "father of" name components), but for them it is extremely important, part of the glue that binds families together. And, as you suggest, the families are indeed very expanded and large. It took a long time for the media to understand that Osama bin Laden was but one of hundreds of bin Ladens in Saudi Arabia; and even more time to understand that the family had all but disowned him long ago.
I had to grope my way through some of the maze when meeting with Royal Family members and understanding who were the main players. A young prince tried to educate me during a very long day and night at his horse farm. I was invited to a showing of his latest acquisitions, followed by a meshui in an enormous tent furnished so extravagantly that a Hollywood set designer would have been stunned. As he introduced me to all his cousins and brothers who were there, I got completely lost, even with his patient explanations.  Ed Jajko knows better than I how important these connections are for an individual Saudi. They give any man a firm idea of who he is and where he belongs in that society.

RH: Meshui:
Roast Leg of Lamb Meshui, which seems to mean barbecue. I am not a meshui expert.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 16, 2005