This is an absorbing and authentic account, first published in 1986, of the history and traditional way of life of the Al-Dhafir bedouins of north-eastern Arabia, based on a study of their traditions, Arabic historical annals and the reports of western travellers over the past two hundred years. During the early part of the twentieth century the Al-Dhafir were a major power in the desert south west of the Euphrates between Samawa and Zubair. Beginning in the Hijaz in the early 1600s as a confederation of small tribes under the leadership of the Suwait clan, they have had an eventful history in which their tribal tradition records battles with the Sharifs in the Hijaz, the al’Urai’ir in al Hasa, the Muntafiq in Iraq and finally the Ikhwan raiders in the 1920s. They are well known for an almost quixotic adherence to the taditions of hospitality and protection of fugitives for which their sheikhs became known as the Ahl al-Buwait, ‘people of the little tent’.
1. The History of the Al-Dhafir 2. The Traditional Dira of the Al-Dhafir 3. The Structure of the Dhafir Tribal Confederation 4. The Present Situation of the Tribe 5. Texts with Translations and Explanatory Notes 6. Linguistic Characteristics of the Dhafir Dialect