Culture And Customs Of Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia is a young nation with an ancient history. It is one of the most conservative traditional societies in the world grappling with the impact of modernization wrought by the influx of great oil wealth beginning only in the mid twentieth century. Saudi culture is in constant flux, and the culture gap between the West and Saudi Islamic culture is wide. Culture and Customs of Saudi Arabia is the first cultural overview of country and provides timely, authoritative insight into a major Middle Eastern power.

The Saudis are a proud people with a closed society, but circumstances have caused them to play an important role in current world affairs. The author has lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and has extensively used his contacts there to provide up-to-date material. Saudi culture developed through age-old interactions between the Arabian peoples and their harsh desert environment. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and the basic Islamic values of Saudi culture have remained to this day. The themes of an ancient desert society infused with Islam values on a collision course with modernity are interplayed throughout chapters on the land, people, and history, traditional Islamic culture and modernization, the extended family and gender roles, cuisine and dress, social customs, rites of passage, and holidays, communication and mass media, and artistic expression. Color photos and a map, chronology, and glossary round out the narrative.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The median age in Saudi Arabia is about 15. New mothers receive gifts from family, friends and neighbors and in turn arrange to have freshly-butchered mutton distributed to the poor. Choosing a spouse is a prolonged process, and nearly always a family affair. Long, a consultant on the Middle East with a 30-year diplomatic career, describes everyday life in Saudi Arabia, including its traditional elements and those undergoing change, family life, cuisine and dress, social customs, rites of passage, holidays, communications, mass media, and forms of artistic expression. He points out that many regional cultures with their own ways of life co-exist in this young nation with an ancient history."


Art Book News Annual

"[T]his handy little book is a fine introduction to Saudi Arabia for students, visiting businesspersons, expatriate workers or the pioneer tourists the Kingdom is gradually attracting. Even longtime foreign residents of Saudi Arabia may find it a useful way to fill in gaps in their knowledge and con- firm their suspicions about aspects of Saudi custom and culture. The author truly knows his subject matter. He does not sugarcoat: He takes on topics like terrorism and disaffected Saudi youth. But he writes to explain differences, rather than criticize them. He offers fascinating insights on the extended family, gender roles, the disorientation of young people and the complex interplay of tradition and modernization in today's Saudi Arabia….[f]or those who look beyond the stereotypes of the western media, there is a rich and vibrant culture and an evolving society worthy of attention and respect."


Saudi Aramco World

"Since the mid-twentieth century, this conservative traditional society has wrestled with the impact of modernization and of its great oil wealth. The author has used extensive personal contacts there to provide up-to-date material. The volume includes a foreword, preface, chronology, and introduction and chapters on Land, People, and History; Traditional Islamic Culture and Modernization; The Extended Family and Gender Roles; Cuisine and Dress; Social Customs; Rites of Passage and Holidays; Communication and Mass Media; and Artistic Expression."


MultiCultural Review

"David E. Long's Culture and Customs of Saudi Arabia, geared toward a non-specialist lay audience, gives an accessible account of modern Saudi Arabian society and culture. Well written and easy to read, the book reflects the author's insights and observations acquired while living and working in the Kingdom….This is a thoughtfully written work that provides the reader with a sensative and well-balanced view of Saudi Arabian culture and society."


Middle East Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313320217
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/30/2005
  • Series: Culture and Customs of the Middle East
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID E. LONG is a consultant on Middle East and Islamic politics and international terrorism. He was a diplomat for 30 years with the U.S. Department of State and specializes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. He has authored and edited many books and articles on the Middle East, including The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1997).

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction : land, people, and history 1
2 Traditional Islamic culture and modernization 17
3 The extended family roles 35
4 Cuisine and dress 47
5 Social customs, rites of passage, and holidays 63
6 Communication and mass media 81
7 Artistic expression 91
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