Worldviews of the Peoples of the Arabian Peninsula A Study of by wulinqing

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									Worldviews of the Peoples of
  the Arabian Peninsula:
   A Study of Cultural Systems

         Naser al Hujelan
• This study examines the inhabitants of the
  Arabian Peninsula to better understand
  their worldviews, the cultural systems that
  control their behaviors, their way of
  thinking and their value systems.
• This work utilizes cultural information
  about these people’s worldviews to
  understand the perceived contradiction in
  living a modern life governed by traditional

• The study relies on many factors that are
  integral to human experience, including
  those addressed by a range of literary
  sources, linguistic elements and oral folk
  texts; analyses of culturally influential
  factors such as location and sense of time;
  and influences of modern technology,
  including communications and

• New cultural changes have been highlighted in
  addition to their cause and their ramifications
  relative to religion, politics, gender, social life,
  economy and education.
• By studying certain cultural practices both
  general or popular, or specific or folk,
  one can form a contextualized understanding of
  the culture.
• General cultural practices are usually preformed
  by most members of the society regardless of
  regional, religious, and tribal differences
  whereas specific culture is special to a certain
  social group.

• To acquire authentic data for this work,
  written texts including both folk and elite
  genres as well as oral texts have been
  collected from various parts of the Arabian
• These texts are analyzed in accordance
  with their cultural contexts, so that
  conclusions pertaining to the form of
  cultural changes induced by different
  factors--both internal and external--can be
• The study starts with a background highlighting Arabic
  cultural criticism studies to contextualize this current
  work in this field.
• Chapter one discusses the cultural influences of location
  as inferred from oral folk texts and literature sources.
• Chapter two assesses the impact of chronological
  elements in shaping people's worldviews in the Arabian
• *Social relations and cultural traditions are emphasized
  in Chapters three and four, with analysis on cultural
  codes governing relations among males and females as
  separate groups and also between each other.
• Chapter five discusses the effects of technology on the
  culture, focusing on certain changes in language and

• Several influential factors that mold people's
  worldviews in the Arabian Peninsula are
  revealed by this research.
• Some of these factors are attached to where the
  person lives, with location closely associated
  with time/history, while other factors stem from
  how they live, including social relations and links
  with technology and commerce.
• By examining such factors utilizing authentic
  cultural texts, the study finds that some people
  of the Arabian Peninsula struggle with certain
  aspects of modern life that contradict cultural
  values they hold.
• Coming from a culture that respects old
  traditions, while living modern lifestyles
  never been known to ancestors, has
  brought many challenges to this
• Such conflicts between ancient cultural
  codes and modern lifestyles have created
  a social backlash of sorts, where
  entrenchment in traditional values at the
  expense of adaptability is the result.
• When faced with overwhelming changes
  and choices, some ultimately become
  oblivious as to how to meet modern
  demands that may challenge their
  identities and cultural beliefs, including
  important issues such as sexual
  segregation, women's place in the home
  and at work, same- family or tribal
  marriages, and the glorification and
  representation of tribal origins.

• After Islam emerged in the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh
  century, the Arabs expanded into other countries to spread Islam,
  defend their borders, and conduct commerce.
• They mingled with people of other cultures and acculturated to other
  societies as they lived with them in order to deal with others from
  different cultures.
• When the Arabs returned home, they brought other cultural views
  and practices with them, which caused change in Arab culture.
• Many people from different countries and cultures immigrated to the
  Arabian Peninsula, also bringing their own traditions and languages.
• This contributed further to some cultural modifications where these
  immigrants resided.
• Despite cultural integration in many regions of the Peninsula, Arabic
  remained the language of communication and Islam the official

• The Arabian Peninsula underwent dramatic change after
  the oil boom in the second half of the twentieth century.
• This change was not only economical, but also social,
  cultural, and political.
• The traditionally nomadic Bedouins who are mostly
  desert tribes were encouraged to live in houses instead
  of mobile tents.
• People started using more of the technology which
  caused changes to a culture that had always
  encouraged using traditional means to live.
• People left tents and mud houses to live in multiple-story
  concrete homes.
• Instead of using animals for transportation, people
  employed mechanized vehicles and computers.

• The use of telephones has now become
  the norm.
• Western culture has also entered society
  and caused different reactions ranging
  from “complete acceptance, to struggle, or
  complete refusal of this outside influence.”

        Difficulty in the work-field
• First, researchers (and books) have focused on elite literature
  because it is more convenient to study.
• This is so because it is more accessible than the folk literature and
  traditions which need to be collected from sometimes obscure or
  less official sources.
• Second, government and academic foundations do not grant
  researchers official passes to meet with indigenous people in order
  to collect samples for study.
• Finally, even when researchers reach the people, they may not get
  the information they are looking for, because informants may feel
  defensive or become afraid to share intimate cultural information
  with foreigners or outsiders who may misjudge the culture.
• People may also think that these researchers are sent by the
  government as agents and hence get scared from talking to them.

• The First approach used is concerned with the nature of the material
  studied which introduces the unique culture of the people.
• These specific cultural items show the differences between
  countries in the Arabian Peninsula; and hence, they are from all
  countries in the Peninsula like written sources (e.g. questionnaires)
• Second approach used: this is concerned with the material that
  cannot be traced back to its original source and hence may not be
  accurately designated to a certain country. When such material is
  dealt with, at least three countries are represented: Saudi Arabia,
  Yemen, and another Gulf state, or two.
• Saudi Arabia being culturally diverse, Yemen has cultural interesting
  items but also shares with southern Saudi regions many cultural

• Sources have been taken from all countries in the
  Arabian Peninsula with Saudi Arabia having many
  sources relative.
• This is so because Saudi Arabia, as a country, occupies
  the biggest area of the Peninsula and its people are
  more than double the population of any other country
  within Arabian Peninsula.
• In addition to this, Saudi Arabia is more culturally
  diversified as it can be argued that it is in fact five
  countries within one.
• This is so because each region has its dialect which can
  be very different to other as if it were a different
  language, clothing, private culture, dances, and food.
  Therefore, there was more material to use from Saudi
  Arabia as it yielded more information.
• included all the seven countries within the
  Peninsula as I visited each country for fieldwork.
  Some I even visited several times such as
  Yemen and some parts of Saudi Arabia.
• The approach adopted to choose the right data
  for this research is based on the nature of the
  material in hand and whether it represents local
  endogenous culture of shared more general

• This data gathered for this research can be broken down
• Written texts (novels, short stories, and reports) that
  were taken from all seven countries; there was at least a
  novel from each country that had been analyzed. There
  were more texts from countries such as Saudi Arabia
  and UAE because they presented different new ideas.
• Oral texts type and amount of texts taken from each
  country varied according to cultural use in that country
  as well as nature of the material. For example, jokes
  were represented from the countries within the
  peninsula. As for folk proverbs, it is hard to precisely
  identify its origin since the nature of these items is
  circulation, so each group may use the material and
  claim its ownership when in fact this may not be true.

•    Poetry: This work is primarily concerned with
     folk poetry which has mostly been taken from
     SA, UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. The
     reason for this is because most of the folk
     poets are unknown and their identity is usually
     revealed by the narrator of the poem who
     mostly tells the audience that this poet belongs
     to the same country as he is.
•     This work focuses on the cultural implications
     of this kind of poetry. This cultural information
     represents valuable data to help understand
     the Arabic culture in the Arabian Peninsula.
• Questionnaires: The questionnaires were distributed in all countries
  in the region. Many universities have been cooperative in this regard
  such as Sanā University in Yemen, Kuwait University in Kuwait,
  the educational college in Bahrain University, King Saud University
  in Riyadh, King Fays al University in Z ahrān SA. To have a wider
  sample, I also used the Internet as well as interviews.
• News and Rumors: Most common news/stories/ rumor among
  people have been studied to uncover their nature and elements,
  which made them culturally interesting. Examples include
  homosexual crimes done by religious men, Imams of mosques in
  Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. There were also the complaints against
  Satellite channels which tackled the issue of tribes and religious
  sects. These kinds of items cannot be traced back to its source of
  origin either as they circulate among different groups of people.

• travel to different Gulf countries, different
  regions within a country, thus requiring
  financing and familiarization with new
  social and political laws of the place.
• Finding and maintaining shelter during
  long periods of research was not always a
  convenient matter despite the generosity
  of the southern people.

• to gather data about people’s cultural
  traditions and customs, they often
  mistakenly thought that I was affiliated with
  the secret police
• They don't allow their women to meet
  strangers, especially if they are men.
• Males openly refused to allow me to meet
  with their mothers or other female
  relatives, even if they were elderly.

     • police reports or legal testimony
     • Old manuscripts
     • Online and written questionnaires

          • Cultural Criticism Defined
• Cultural criticism depends on theories from
  various fields in order to detect the cultural
  systems that influence our behavior and
  vision of the world.
• This takes the whole of culture as a subject
  for study and tries to detect both its obvious
  and hidden features through wide usage of
  components of other sciences which allow
  some measure of the effect of culture on

• Cultural criticism does recognize some
  differentiation between what may be
  considered works of art and those types of
  writing that function more as
  documentation, the field ascribes great
  value to texts that serve to illuminate
  cultural climate, and also accounts for the
  influence of culture on aesthetic criteria.
• This marks a change from the literary
  theories that consider only fixed concepts
  of beauty and limited aesthetic features.
• Cultural critics study a text not only for
  aesthetics, but also in an attempt to understand
  the relationship between its ideologies and
  historical, political, social, philosophical, and
  economic contexts.
• They look for the appearance of cultural systems
  evidenced in the text, as language cannot exist
  independently but must filter through its
  environment, history and culture.
• The core of this cultural criticism establishes
  bonds between culture and society, exerting a
  strong influence over what is considered to be
  great literary works.
             Chapter ONE
      Place, Culture and Identity
• Cultural traditions maybe relegated to certain locations,
  such locations may generally describe their inhabitants.
• Particular beliefs and ways of living are thought to be
  identifiable with geographical areas, and people who
  reside in certain villages, provinces, cities, or countries
  within the Arabian Peninsula are often identified by the
  region from where they come.
• In this chapter, different regions and countries within the
  Arabian Peninsula are explored in an attempt to identify
  cultural traditions indigenous to each geographical
  location and to explain the influence of location on the
  development of character within cultural boundaries.
• Location not only determines a person’s geographical
  parameters, but also contributes to the formation of a
  person’s worldview.
• Different places generate different perceptions
  of the world. For example, agriculturally rich
  valleys call for different environmental
  responses than do desert locations or places
  alongside bodies of water.
• These variable environmental conditions
  influence the inhabitants’ way of life, including
  social organization, food habits, and value
• In this investigation, places of variable
  geographical, cultural, and historical
  backgrounds are assessed to help link the
  identity of place to the culture of its inhabitants,
  as each place produces people with distinctive
  modes of thinking, believing, and behaving.
                  • First: Place and Culture
• The place of origin as well as place of inhabitation
  influences people’s lives in many ways, including their
  worldviews and social norms, thus affecting the behavior
  of others toward them or their own toward others.
• People usually adopt traditions practiced in their place of
  inhabitation as a socializing mechanism in which those
  of one place bond with each other and create new
  relations as well as strengthen existing ones.
• These traditions can also include thoughts about one’s
  identity relative to others. In this regard, a person’s place
  of origin as well as place of living are considered , as
  that person’s identity can be similarly defined in relation
  to where her or she originally came from.

• This identity then defines the social
  standing within the society.
• One therefore can not rule out one place
  in the favor of another, as both can
  influence the individual’s thought and
  practice and in turn project certain values
  on to the society.
• Location of all kinds and conditions thus
  greatly impact people’s worldviews and
  indeed, jointly shapes them in conjunction
  with other factors.
              • Second: The Function of Place
• While Arabic writers may begin from the natural and
  spiritual aspects of the desert that have inspired the
  Bedouins to write their poetry, it has been the general
  aim of the Western traveler to examine the culture of the
  desert and the characteristics of its tribes, to decipher
  nomadic poetry, and to understand the history of the
  wars and invasions of the tribes and the adventures of
  the poets.
• Overtime these two aims have collided and intermingled,
  as all of these writings regarding the desert and its
  inhabitants reveal the multi-layering of thoughts,
  incidents, memories, fantasies and human relationships
  with nature and cultures throughout time.

• Place Functions
• By describing different places inside and outside the
  house, it is obvious that each place has definitely been
  made and used differently according to its function.
• It is therefore not surprising that people’s attitude differ
  from one location to another.
• Persons inside the living room may not be the same
  inside the office or in the bedroom or even on a trip to a
• These variations are clear as the person moves from
  one place to another. It is thus even of a greater
  importance to note the ways in which people living in one
  place of certain geographical, climate, social, political,
  and economic conditions may behave as well as think
  differently than others who are not experiencing the
  same factors in their lives.
• These changes have primarily evolved as a coping
  technique to live “well” in this particular place, and are
  subject to change when the person moves form one
  place to another. For instance, some Bedouins living in
  the desert abandon some of their practices when they
  live in the city as they don’t need to do them anymore.
• They have been found to stop fighting with other tribes
  over land of water and food, stop cooking salted meats,
  and start wearing different clothing styles.
• The same is true when village or city people leave their
  place of living to another. Location certainly influences
  people’s mode of living and hence their overall worldview
  of who they are and what they need to be relative to
  everyone else.

• Third: The Relationship Between People and Place
• The relationship between humans and place can be
  summarized by stressing that each place, with its own
  characteristics, together with nature affect humans and their
• Through examples from literature dealing with place, it has
  become clear that the desert is different from the village and
  the city.
• The expanses of the desert and the inability of humans to
  control it have made their lives mild. One lives quickly and the
  way of life is easy.
• Economics in the desert is based on thinking of today, not
• Bedouins save nothing for their future and have no bank
• They eat only if they have food, and if there is more than
  enough, they give it to others or if meat, they salt it and
  preserve it.
• These characteristics may instill political, economic, and
  moral values in the Bedouins and create vision to the world.
• The village, a small place that can be owned, is
  very different from the desert.
• Being a small place that can be observed by all,
  the individual’s behavior is submitted to direct
  observation by all those of the village.
• This enhances the conservative values that
  ensure that individuals remain within the village.
• The nature of city life differs from that of the
  desert or the village, and so the individual has
  new and different experiences there.

• Fourth: Location as Paradigmatic for Cultural
  Identification and Stereotypes
• Based on surveys, oral texts, and personal assessments
  taken from persons coming from various regions of the
  Arabian Peninsula, this research presents the common
  cultural stereotypes associated with location.
• This includes links made between tribes and location,
  since some tribes have owned or continue to own
  particular locations within the Arabian Peninsula.
• Simple tribal stereotypes that are not necessarily
  associated with location are excluded from this research
  since the primary focus is on places and their influence
  on residents, and not on persons isolated from their
  places of residence.

• Stereotypes such as zealotry or non-observance
  in religious practice, generosity, misery,
  foolishness, envy, use of the evil eye, arrogance,
  superstition, and humor are all generally linked
  to people coming from certain areas and hence
  they are included in the study.
• However, stereotypes such as stealing,
  homosexuality, roughness, and women’s beauty
  are usually associated with certain tribes
  regardless of their locations; and hence they are
  not included in the study.

• Through the classifications of people and their
  behavior according to the places they belong to,
  it is clear that people’s perceptions are indeed
  subject to the influence of custom, culture, and
  stereotypes. Some people do not adhere to
  religious beliefs strictly or piously.
• Some lust over images or indulge in folk beliefs
  such as the evil eye.
• Although there are relationships among these
  values and certain places, instead of being
  determinative, they are primarily classificatory.
• This system of understanding people, by linking
  them to specific places, shows us how culture
  can consolidate our values and perceptions and
  shape our most fundamental classifications.
     Chapter TWO: Man and Time
• Arabs value time not only as a
  chronological measure, but it is also a tool
  for evaluating living conditions and used
  on a regular basis to assess times of stay
  vs. leave for Bedouins who move from one
  place to another, seasonal herd mating to
  produce food, and cultural times for certain
  religious and ritual practices.

• Time consists of two elements: one is physical as
  represented in the natural environment in which a person
  lives; it contains material phenomenon, such as weather
  conditions, particular terrain like the desert or marine
  environments, mountain or urban areas, as well as the
  climate with its changes and seasons and the flora and
  fauna of the earth.
• The second element is spiritual and is represented in the
  culture of human societies with all its values, customs,
  traditions, beliefs, and arts; this culture is a product of
  interaction between humans and the environment that
  surrounds them which in turn produces the different
  elements of culture (such as the lingual and religious
  systems, family relationships and methods of personal
  interaction, ways of eating, drinking, dressing,
  expressing one’s imagination and so on).

• Definition of time is felt in three senses of
• first is the duality of time and movement,
  because movement dictates quantities of
• second is the duality of time and place,
  because place contributes to the shaping
  of its identity;
• and third is the duality of time and the
  human being, because a human gives
  time its subjective and personal meanings.

• Many Muslim philosophers think that time is the past and
  the future but not the present, because the present is
  vague and merely a common meeting point between the
  past and future.
• Although the past is a period before any speech or
  action, and the future is after, there is an existential
  period between the past and the future.
• This period might be called an “isthmus” (Barzakh)
  because it is an undeniable link between two banks.
  From all that has been discussed, every definition of time
  has been supported by meditation rather than limitation.
• Limitation is based on scientific and mathematical logic
  that Greek and Muslim philosophers shared.

• Arabs measure time in different ways, yet
  whether they use purely cultural tools, or
  traditional expressions, or the modern Arabic
  calendar or that of cultural dating system, their
  goal is not only to “know” time per se, but also to
  use it to implicit or avoid change.
• When a Bedouin therefore fails to recognize the
  time to leave for greener grounds, or does not
  know how to use the stars to find his way when
  lost in the desert, or is not sure about the time
  he should allow his cattle to mate, he
  jeopardizes his life and may lose it.
• Measuring time can thus be a matter of life and

         Chapter Three: Men
• to discover the underlying cultural codes that set
  each group apart from the other.
• One way to classify the society, for instance, is
  to observe the economic status of its members,
  from the affluent to the needy.
• Another method of classification involves
  examining its social structure, including classes
  and/or tribal origins and affiliations, as well as
  regional identity.

• In the Arabian Peninsula, people are identified
  as Bedouins and urbanites just as they are
  similarly classified according to age.
• Classifications also indicate cultural customs
  based on and reinforced by gender as well as
• It is essential to note that in Arabic culture, men
  and women tend to go through variable cultural
  circumstances determined by their sex.
• Women experience different social pressures,
  challenges, and duties, and they are allowed to
  aspire for very different goals from men.

• This chapter contains study of some
  cases, aiming to identify the various
  aspects of the problem that a person or
  people experienced, the discovery of the
  cause or causes of this problem, and the
  resolution of the problem, when solved.

• Men in the Arabian Peninsula
• The culture of the Arabian Peninsula offers each
  man ethical standards that distinguish him from
  women and children.
• Manhood in this region is defined by courage,
  generosity, and sincerity. These values
  permeate all facets of the culture, from day-to-
  day life to the use of language.
• The word man implies more than a mere
  indication of sex, as exemplified in various
  popular proverbs and common expressions that
  emphasize his exclusive ethical features.
• When analyzing Arabian culture within the
  Arabian Peninsula, one finds that tribal culture is
  very influential.
• This influence goes beyond setting social status
  and may affect some people’s behavior, impact
  their personal lives as they are forced to marry
  certain people affiliated with the tribe, or divorce
  those who are not tribal, while also affecting how
  people treat and socialize with each other. It is
  common to see people being discriminated
  against in different circumstances, either due to
  their tribal origin or non-tribal backgrounds,
  depending on the authority dealing with them.

• Tribe is thus of paramount importance in shaping the
  Arabian Peninsula population’s worldview.
• this influence is not the same among all members of the
  society, as it depends on the level of education, the
  struggle for change and modernity, and origin within or
  outside of the tribe.
• It has been noted that some tribal members who are
  highly educated and strive for change and modernity
  tend to care less about tribal affiliations than their fellow
  members who are less educated and still live in the
  village where their tribe originated.
• Although this may not be as obvious with well-educated
  modernized people as with others who are not, tribal
  origin is still meaningful and may affect many aspects of
  their lives.
• Tribal origin is associated with honor and pride, indicating high
  ranking ancestry, and morality, honor, pride, and marriage ties are
  the essential issues tied to tribal origin by tribal people.

      Chapter Four: Women
• The relationships between women and men are
  controlled by certain cultural values, some of
  which are quite obvious and others which are
  hidden. While these relationships vary from
  country to country in the Arabian Peninsula,
  there are some similarities.
• The dominant cultural similarity is that there
  exists for both men and women the need to
  bond with another person, both psychologically
  and physically.
• A psychological need eventually becomes part of the
  cultural fabric through the passing of time and the
  accumulation of experiences.
• Thus, the fundamental relationships between men and
  women lead each party to develop certain means of
• These means are evident in cultural norms practiced by
• The woman’s feeling that man is superior in power,
  intelligence and behavior has led her to submit herself to
  him and accept the role of follower.
• On the other hand, man’s feeling of possession and
  control led him to consider the woman his property.
• This sentiment represents a norm that generally exists in
  the relationship between a man and a woman in the
  Arabian Peninsula; it is true of a woman’s relationship
  with her father, her brother, her husband, her son and
  even her male colleagues.
• the cultural norm has translated itself into a
  political matter, where women have petitioned
  for more political and social freedoms as free
  individuals who belong to no one but
• This political matter is essentially linked with the
  transformation to a class-based society, when
  women left the home to find work in professional
  sectors and thus began demanding more
  personal freedoms. In the past, the economy
  was dominated by a system of agriculture, and a
  woman’s role was limited to what she could
  produce, namely children.

• Her ability to produce people represented
  her value as a source for economic
  prosperity; at the same time, she was
  considered property, like slaves, servants
  or cattle.
• Man, then, not only owned woman, but
  also anything related to that woman,
  including her children.
• This understanding was the foundation of
  a social system that restricted women to
  the role of servant and mother.
• people used to think that there was only one
  type of family. In the past, the grandmother was
  the leader of the family, and the lives and work
  of her children and grandchildren revolved
  around her.
• Later, society favored paternity, and the father
  was considered the head of the household.
• This structuring of family according to paternity
  also affected the socio-economic state of
  communities, which transformed themselves into
• This transformation, however, had little to do
  with the role of women, who continued to work
  for the benefit of their husbands and their
• According to the system of family, a woman’s
  role became linked to the family to which she
• This system has relegated women to the
  marginal classes even though they are
  responsible for uniting the family and keeping
  the family stable. If a woman could take her
  children and walk away from her marriage
  without social or economic repercussions, the
  paternal family system would have not have
  survived for thousands of years.
• Furthermore, not only does the paternal family
  require women’s submission, but so too does a
  class-based society.
• In the Arabian Peninsula, the family and the tribal system
  dictate a person’s position.
• Inherently, this system benefits the man. For example,
  this system allows the older son to escape his individual
  and social responsibilities; it also dictates that fortunes
  pass from one generation to another through the male
  child, who receives a larger sum than female children.
• The family institution in the Arabian Peninsula, in fact, is
  a conservative one that is characterized by reproduction
  of authority relationships – the transfer of power from the
  father to the older son or from the older son to the
  following son – in order to preserve a sexist society that
  not only operates according to models of ownership,
  competition and hostility, but also according to alleged
  differences between men and women.

• This cultural system is also inherited by
  children, who are taught to submit to the
  discipline and teachings of their father.
• According to the common cultural and
  religious beliefs, any sexual activity is
  mainly controlled, and it is only acceptable
  between men and women for the purpose
  of procreation.
• This structure affirms only its own social,
  religious and political values where men
  are in control and women follow their lead.

• There is almost a fixed norm that controls the
  relationships between men and women, and it is best
  summarized in the following points:
• 1-Males base their relationships on benefit, including
  their relationships with women. This, of course, do not
  exclude passion, but men commonly choose
  relationships that benefit them in some way rather than
  those that have no immediate, tangible benefits.
• One finds that men’s relationships with each other are
  controlled by an exchange of benefits, and with this
  exchange comes understanding, like, dislike, distance
  and, perhaps, wars.
• Even relationships that have an emotional basis often do
  not last when there is no material benefit for the man.
• For instance, the wife who is infertile can be replaced
  with a fertile one, as many cases have proven and as
  many old sayings illustrate
•    2- One type of benefit is obedience to the group to
     which a man belongs. One must speak highly of the
     tribe, even if what he speaks goes against his personal
     principles or desires.
•    Thus, individuals gravitate toward those who share
     similar beliefs and cultural practices: a Bedouin
     gravitates toward another Bedouin because of their
     similar lifestyles and the importance of tribal
     obedience; an urban dweller gets along with other
     urban dwellers; and the religious like the company of
     other religious people.
•    These types of fundamental connections eliminate
     tribal, racial or even linguistic differences, and these
     attachments provide both psychological and material

•    3-As stated, this idea of benefit translates to
     male/female relationships and could be
     responsible for the subjection of women.
•    Often men may feel threatened by a woman’s
     attitude or behavior and so a man must
     reassert his dominance; hence the cases
     where women are forced to divorce their
     husbands, killed to preserve their honor,
     expelled from jobs, deprived of their children or
     used as gifts to repay debts.
•    The dominant male culture justifies these
     actions because they protect the man from any
     disruption to his social position.

•    4- Often one finds that a brother cares most about
     protecting his sister and becomes more jealous about
     her than his wife or other women; this is particularly
     true because a brother’s role is innately connected to
     his sister: He is culturally regarded as her “owner” and
•    Because of this idea of ownership, a brother’s
     relationship with his brother-in-law is usually tense.
•    Furthermore, the maternal uncle serves as a model for
     his sister’s sons, which further complicates this
     relationship because of sexual undertones, as
     illustrated by various fairytales, such as “The Heater’s
     Tale” and the tale of Luqmān and Laqīm.

•    5-A man’s ownership of a woman begins
     with her physical body and material
     belongings, and it extends to control over
     her mind.
•    Thus, a woman’s actions are often
     considered her male guardian’s actions;
     and it is this cultural understanding that
     allows Arabic men to control women by
     any means possible.

•    6- Culture dictates that women need men, and many
     women ascribe to this belief because society has kept
     them from becoming economically and emotionally
•    In the Arabian Peninsula, women still need men to live,
     as they are often unable to earn a steady income.
•    Therefore, divorced women usually search for other
     husbands because they need someone to support
     them financially.
•    This material need is matched by a physiological need,
     too, for culture has instilled the belief that men are
     smarter, more experienced and more capable than
•    Because of this cultural belief and practice, women
     only play a marginal role in the community; often their
     responsibilities do not extend beyond giving birth to
     children and doing house work.

•    7- The importance of a man to a
     woman’s financial and emotional well-
     being also results in a significant amount
     of pressure, as well as the fear that she
     might one day lose her husband and, in
     turn, her protection, financial security and
     the source of her affection.
•    This fear is also responsible for the tense
     relationships between women which are
     often dominated by jealousy, envy and

•    8- This competitive cultural behavior can be
     overt or covert.
•    For example, the relationship between a
     mother and her children can be tense if a
     mother feels her daughter is competing with
     her over her husband.
•    This feeling could be valid or it could an
     illusion, a result of living under an extreme
     amount of pressure and fear.
•    This competition is more obvious in the female
     relationships between sisters, work colleagues,
     fellow wives or between a mother-in-law and a
• Regardless, this tension is a result of
  sexual attention, and it is responsible
  for both these negative relationships,
  as well as those positive ones that
  can exit between a man and a

                    Chapter FIVE:
Modernity and the Arabs: An Analysis of Language and
 Society and Between Tradition and Transformation
• Although the majority of Saudi Arabians have
  changed from nomads to urban dwellers, they
  still struggle with this change.
• Arabs have adjusted to technology,
  multiculturalism, formal advanced education,
  employment, housing, and city life.
• this transition has been difficult as many Arabs
  have abandoned traditional customs in order to
  integrate into city life.
• Due to economic necessity, many Bedouins
  have left herding for government or private
  sector jobs, drastically altering their social lives.
• They experience firsthand the importance
  of education for obtaining good jobs, so
  they urge their children to do the same.
• Despite some who are successfully
  coping, others remain in a transitional
  stage between both traditional and modern
• For example, some Bedouins still herd
  camel or sheep, leaving their modern
  homes to live in tents to recapture the
  essence of Bedouin life.
• This change is assessed as a tool to evaluate the
  influence of new cultural changes due to modernization
  and city life culture.
• Saudi speech is analyzed because Saudi Arabia
  incorporates all dialects in the Arabian Peninsula, as its
  vast area includes different regional cultures as well as
  tribal groupings and affiliations that resemble those in
  other Arabian Peninsula countries.
• The reason for choosing Saudi Arabia is because it
  encompasses the religious sites for Muslims in Mecca
  and Medina cities; therefore, it’s considered as a
  respectful Islamic guide by which Muslims follow in life.
• Many Muslims and Arabs are thus highly influenced by
  the speech and some actions of Saudi people, regarded
  as righteous since they protect the Islamic places and

• Having set the sociological, cultural, and
  economic stage of the modern-day Gulf
  States, particularly Saudi Arabia, we may
  now turn to specific examples of the
  interactions between these many factors
  that have contributed to a specifically
  Arabic articulation of modernity.

• First: Recurring Phrases in Saudi Speech:
  Types and Functions
• This section provides an overview of
  recurrent phrases in Saudi speech,
  examining selected examples from various
  regions in Saudi Arabia in order to
  demonstrate variation across environment
  and social class.

• Some regional forms have become universal
  regardless of their origin.
• Certain usages can also reveal the speaker’s
  background, demonstrating social class,
  education, national origin, or even intellectual
• Yet these criteria can only provisionally describe
  a person.
• The present purpose is to uncover underlying
  connections between language, thought, and
•     Forms of linguistic repetition appear in
  words, phrases, or sentences spoken in a fixed
  manner spontaneously.

• The form may be confined to a particular region, people,
  tribe, or religious sect. Such forms can loose their literal
  meaning as they adopt idiomatic or vernacular
• Repetition begins in the early stages of language
  acquisition as the child utters his or her first words.
• While these repetitions may not immediately convey
  clear meaning, they still demonstrate a natural tendency
  toward use from its earliest operation.
• As these less-meaningful repetitions disappear over
  time, other more meaningful forms appear in their place.
• Redundant language is another stage of language
  development that some may never move beyond, but
  repetition in language can have far more nuances than
  redundancy suggests.
• Repetitious linguistic forms in Saudi Arabia
  include words like Allāh, used in numerous
  contexts and even secular situations.
• Allāh is Arabic for “God” and is used both
  religiously and culturally.
• Many other religious words and phrases have
  also entered everyday language use.
• To non-native speakers, these references may
  seem to indicate an extremely religious society,
  but religious reference does not always imply
  religious meaning or feeling.

• In looking at recurring religious phrases, it
  can be seen that these phrases have
  established a linguistic model allowing
  users to acquire habits like a fashion.
• People use these phrases to cope with the
  dominant society and to put themselves on
  equal footing with the social custom
  associated with the usage of a specific

• The use of religious phrases carries specific
  connotations that society recognizes. Religious phrases
  are a habit of a religiously committed class of society,
  representing for them a super-cultural value that reaches
  the point of tradition or religion itself, so its use becomes
• Failing to use certain phrases may lead to collision with
  group expectations.
• The use of these phrases in Saudi society is not a folk
  habit, nor does it carry a focal value of linguistic
  motivation, because this repetitive form has no semantic
• It is merely a cultural form used to give a certain
  impression of the personality and the culture of the group
  rather than a socio-cultural indicator of the society’s
  basic underpinnings.
• Based on what has been discussed so far,
  one may note that these phrases may be
  interchangeable. Athābak Allāh, for
  example, may replace jazāk Allāh khayran
  “May Allāh bless you” because both
  express astonishment. The same can be
  observed for Allāh akhbar, subhān Allāh,
  and astaghfiro Allāh.

• Recurring religious phrases achieve successful
  communication with the addressee in two
• The first concerns the linguistic form of the
  delivery or the performance, while the second
  concerns the significance related to the
  collective behavior connected with the social
• The repetitive religious phrases slow the
  narration by being inserted in a different position
  in the utterance, either the beginning or the
  middle. When such a phrase pauses speech, it
  gives both the speaker and the listener a chance
  to think or to take a breath.

• Recurrent religious phrases serve sociological functions
  indicating group identity, difference, and dissociation.
• Demonstrating one’s identity as part of a religious group
  through speech patterns and thought indicates belief in
  the group and its ideology.
• Belonging to a religious group may also mean avoiding
  other groups or classes because of conflicting values.
• Group membership and believing in their values requires
  time, so that a would-be member can only begin with a
  declaration of his belonging.
• This appearance, including language use, is easier than
  actual belief.

• Conflict Between Technology and
• Although the majority of people in Saudi
  Arabia today have moved away from the
  traditional Bedouin lifestyle to share in the
  modernity afforded by petroleum wealth,
  many Bedouin forms of behavior and
  thought remain in people’s

• The numerous outward changes in appearance
  and lifestyle do not necessarily correspond with
  inward changes in religion or thinking.
• While people use the modern technologies like
  the computer, internet, and mobile phones, they
  tend to view them only as tools serving their
  traditional culture.
• The mobile phone, for example, is one way to
  spread discriminatory jokes against women or
  other categories of society, while the internet
  can be used to spread tribal fantasies, rumors,
  or conspiracies.
• Modernity, wealth, and privilege have not
  necessarily fostered the internalization of
  new ideas despite the reach of the media
  and educations.
• Despite the vast increases in wealth, many
  people still view life and situations in the
  same terms that their Bedouin ancestors
• There is a constant confusion between the
  sense of belonging to the desert or to the
  city, to the past or the present.
• People living in a palace-like villa may still have a small
  tent like their original home in which to live. The villa is
  for social prestige, while the tent feeds the desire to be
  unbounded by the villa fence.
• There is also conflict and some hypocrisy between what
  one says to others and what people do. For example,
  when traveling outside the country, a man dresses in
  “modern” clothes while his wife is expected to only wear
  traditional clothing.
• The sexually defined roles and morals of conduct can be
  so opposite in nature that change of location may alter
  one but not the other. Women’s behavior and clothing
  are highly tied not only to culture as that of men are, but
  also to religious orders and explanations.

• Such religious elements are in fact variable, as
  one opinion maybe more conservative than the
  other; however, they all agree on setting clear
  moral boundaries for conduct.
• In this new kind of life on the Arab Peninsula,
  there are new technologies, forms of
  communication, and education.
• People have changed their residences from the
  desert to the city, people went from being thin to
  fat and sometimes morbidly obese, and their
  bank accounts grew to wealthy levels.

• Some people have high levels of education and
  have traveled abroad, but all this has not
  fundamentally changed the common
  conservative mindset toward accepting diverse
  opinions or letting go of discrimination against
  women, foreigners, blacks, workers, or servants.
• All these gifts of modernity have in fact yet to
  adhere to new values critical to the mental
  development and building of a civilized society.
  This is so because many people take refuge in
  conservative forms of religion, which they feel
  represents the past and protects them from the
  multiple dislocations of modernity.

• Such religious thinking vs. modern thought have been in
  cognitive battle to the extent that anything that doesn’t
  resemble conservatism or religion is regarded as inferior
  and/or morally loose.
• Such contradictions can also be observed via analyzing
  people’s speech and circulating jokes, as used speech
  and methods of humor are authentic mediums for
  research trying to focus on the extent of modern
  infiltration generating religious and conservative
• Such linguistic aspects point out that religion still plays a
  major part shaping people’s psyche in the Arabian
  Peninsula, and though people tend to choose
  conservative options in life, they appear to regard non-
  traditional and sometimes even non-culturally accepted
  items acceptable for humor and entertainment.

• This behavior can be regarded as an
  indication of the longing of some people to
  discover and possibly even practice new
  grounds of social life not previously
  admitted to have existed among the
  conservative Arabian peninsula.
• Though the general cultural image
  appears somewhat static, there is in reality
  a serious tendency among some people
  toward change and the experience of new
  and different things.

• This makes one wonder if the cultural
  confusion experienced by some people in
  the Arabian Peninsula, coupled with the
  others’ wish for change, can generate a
  real cultural force that alters people’s lives
  and cultures, making the future of the
  Arabian Peninsula highly unpredictable in
  a sense that traditionalism, though desired
  by influential parties, serves to constricted

• By studying certain cultural practices both
  general or popular, or specific or folk, one
  can form a contextualized understanding
  of the culture.
• General cultural practices are usually
  preformed by most members of the society
  regardless of regional, religious, and tribal
  differences whereas specific culture is
  special to a certain social group.

• Perceived contradictive cultural practices
  and possibly even general views can be
  regarded as evidence of the people’s own
  confusion about social values; however,
  when such phenomenon is studied via the
  use of authentic cultural experiences in
  addition to genuinely understanding
  people’s stand on multiple issues, these
  practices can be justified from within the
  culture as being valid.

• This is so because certain social groups (tribal,
  Shite, Hijazi, etc.) may practice them based on
  their folk cultural norms that permit and possibly
  require them, while others refrain from them
  since they have different specific cultures that
  view such practice as negative or at least
• For example, the practice of face cover, though
  generally regarded as a religious matter, as
  some Islamic sects instruct their female
  followers to submit to it, not all social groups do
• Tribal people in the Arabian Peninsula may
  closely adhere to such practices based on both
  cultural and ultra religious views, while other
  groups either don’t strictly follow it or practice it
  at all.
• To acquire a holistic view of the culture, it is
  necessary to uncover the cultural systems that
  govern such peoples.
• These cultural systems certainly shape the
  people’s worldviews and hence their lives, which
  in turn strongly affects their future in all aspects
  social, political, economical, and religious.
• This study examines the inhabitants of the
  Arabian Peninsula to better understand their
  worldviews, the cultural systems that control
  their behaviors, and their value systems.
• It relies on many factors that are integral to a
  human being’s experiences, such as place
  (where one lives); time (the historical past, the
  present, and the future; one’s generation; and
  lived times vs. real time); social norms and
  changes, which affect sex, age, social positions,
  and occupations; and language forms, which
  can be regarded as an indication of the
  magnitude of change inflicted on the people.

• This study finds that the people of the Arabian
  Peninsula largely regard the new, fast, modern
  changes as serious threats to their identity and
  culture. There is hence a real resistance among
  some groups (notably, conservative/tribal and
  ultra religious) to accept any change easily.
• Although there are solid popular norms, there is
  cultural variability pertaining to certain groups
  based on regional, tribal, or religious differences.
• Moreover, there is sexual discrimination in a
  sense that cultural values tends to be more
  conservative when it comes to women’s issues
  and more lenient for men.

• This difference is still taking place among the
  people of the Arabian Peninsula, as women are
  seen as the sign of the family’s honor and pride
  whereas men are the protectors and guides of
  the family.
• Men can thus be regarded as socially more
  “potent” in a sense that they are more influential,
  taking into consideration that the society itself
  values male products over female as men are
  perceived to possess more social confidence.
• This confidence allows them to even break
  certain values and still be accepted within the
  social circle, unlike women, who can be severely

• the tribe is still a powerful entity in the Arabian
  Peninsula, as it possesses a certain culture that
  may or may not be fully followed by its members.
• This social discrimination can be mitigated by
  wealth and education, whereas wealthy non-
  tribal people may still gain social acceptance
  and high recognition while highly educated tribal
  people appear to dwell much on tribal ancestry
  as being superior above all.
• The fact that individuals with non-tribal wealth
  find much respect nowadays, unlike in the past,
  implying that the culture is slowly but surely
  coming to value materialism as people
  recognize the new demands of city life and
  modern economy.
• In the past, being among the tribe allowed
  for stable life, as other members of the
  tribe take care of one another, but
  nowadays education and employment are
  essential to decent living.
• This change in lifestyles urged many
  Bedouins to change some of their values
  and implant city notions in their children so
  they may better cope with the society and
  take good advantage of the opportunities it
• Change is evidently taking place in different cultural
  levels in the Arabian Peninsula due to various social,
  political, religious, and economical reasons; however,
  based on the findings of this study, in order for this
  change to be actualized four conditions need to be met.
• One, this change must utilize culturally familiar tools in
  order to implant new themes into the society.
• For instance, to change important certain social ideas in
  the society, one needs to talk about these ideas using
  local dialect and not standard Arabic.
• Also, using familiar sentence structure and folk proverbs
  along with religious tones helps the speaker win the
  audience’s initial acceptance.

• Second, an essential condition for change to
  occur is that the people who are trying to cause
  this change are the ones socially regarded as
• For instance, religious personalities or known
  religious sheiks have tremendous influence on
  the Arabian society over the Arabian Peninsula,
  making them highly influential in shaping
  people’s worldviews.
• Third, this change needs to occur slowly without
  shocking the people by its sudden presence,
  since they need to understand how they can
  make use of it relative to their values.
• Lastly, when socially recognized people start
  practicing the new change, other groups follow.
• For example, when prominent tribal people
  perform untraditional actions, the rest of the
  tribal members gradually accept and do the
  same change.
• An example is lowering women’s dowries, which
  are very high in the Arabian Peninsula;
  prominent tribal families have married off their
  daughters for only one riyal and have actually
  given the husband helping money.
• After seeing this practice, more people are doing
  the same, even though this was once perceived
  as not actable since these men will find their
  wives “cheap” and may thus not appreciate them
  as much.

      Thank You


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