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Volume :3 Issue : 11 1977      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE ECOLOGY OF NOMADISM IN SAUDI ARABIA

Auther : Dr. Omar S. S. Rajab

       

         Population communities in Saudi Arabia are divided in to three main categories; Bedouins (nomads), Rurals (farmers), and Urbans (merchants).  Until now, not only actual estimate is available as to the number of each category which is due to the lack of reliable sources and the overlapping of rural and nomadic groups.

         The census conduced in the Kingdom in 1974 divided the population into settlers and nomads.  The nomads form 27.87% of the total population (7,012,642).  The figure of the settled population includes both the rural and urban residents.  Thus the percentage of the nomads is more precise than that of rurals and urbans.

         Nomadism in Saudi Arabia is deeply rooted.  Its tradition goes back to a very long time.  The nomads in the peninsula were famous for their migrational movements in search of pastures as well as trades.  Furthermore, they used to impose a transit tax on merchants passing by their lands.  They were also main suppliers of camels which were the main means of transport and trade.

         The nomads of the peninsula were also divided into small communities or tribes which represent a social structure that has its own systems, relationships, organizations, values rank leaderships and traditional laws that continued for centuries until the appearance of oil as a new influential ecological factor that introduced an imbalance in the previous equilibrium.

         Oil factor had great effects on the ecology of the peninsula.  Nomads were attracted by the new urban centres and the services provided thereto.  Aspects of old Bedouinism began to disappear gradually, therefore, the new nomads have more or less felt more secure and settled by virtue of urbanization factors, e.g. (services provided by the municipality, communications, electricity, water supplies, schools and hospitals).

         The preliminary figures of the 1974 census, the first available particulars concerning nomads distribution in the Kingdom represent the total changes that took place in this distribution.

         Figures in general show that trend of nomadism ratio increasing relatively in the northern region and a gradual decrease of this ratio in the Najd plateau while the eastern region (where oil is produced) a distinctive urbanized colour appears and extends to Riyadh.  As to the southern region, we could note that ancient deeply rooted ruralism is still prevalent there.

         The previous analysis shows that nomadism represents a fading phenomenon largely for the increased of urbanism, deterioration of pasture economy and the alteration of the other economic sectors which are more beneficial.

          In view of the fact that the cultural and political developments lead to the domination of industrial civilization, nomadism presently is considered historically backward civilization though it had its own structure.  The present capabilities and materials of the new civilization attracted the nomads of the Kingdom and lead to the formation of the new ecology of nomadism in Saudi Arabia.

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