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Author: Nadav Samin

Abstract

Internet bulletin boards provide an important window into public discourse in relatively restrictive societies like Saudi Arabia. Examining the discourse on two Saudi Internet bulletin boards, one representing a Najdi tribe, the other a Shi'ite community in eastern Saudi Arabia, it is possible to observe the complex and often competing ends toward which new media in the Middle East are used. The bulletin board of the Najdi and Qahtan tribe reveals a community engaged in intensive debates over issues such as intermarriage between tribal and non-tribal Saudis and the participation of women on tribal Internet forums. The discussions on the Qahtan board represent an attempt to defend the largely state-supported prerogatives of tribal exclusivism and gender segregation against encroachment by women and non-tribal minorities, whose voices can be increasingly heard through the cracks of the Internet. The discussions on the Al-Ahsa Cultural Board show other important dynamics within the Saudi state. Here, young Saudi Shi'ites congregate to discuss cultural and political concerns from (in the context of Saudi society) what might be termed a countercultural perspective. A review of Internet bulletin board use among disparate social groups within Saudi society reveals the way in which discussion forums can allow for more freedom in the exchange of religious and political ideas, while at the same time enabling the reinforcement and entrenchment of traditional values and norms within a contemporary context.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
In: Arabic and the Media
Author: Nadav Samin

Abstract

The development of modern primary education in Saudi Arabia transformed Wah­habism in subtle yet significant ways. The art of instructing six- and seven-year-old children in the finer points of Wahhābī theology and law, as occurred in the new Saudi primary schools from 1929, may appear as the authentic continuation of a tradition within a modern institutional framework. Yet in point of fact, this foregrounding of theology constituted a departure from traditional Wahhābī pedagogy, and from precolonial Muslim learning conventions more generally. In response to the encroachment of non-Wahhābī personnel and systems of knowledge into their traditional domain, this paper argues, the Najdī ʿulamāʾ reframed modern education as a theological challenge, one similar to the challenge presented by bedouin and other non-Wahhābī Muslims.

In: Die Welt des Islams
In: Knowledge, Authority and Change in Islamic Societies
In: Knowledge, Authority and Change in Islamic Societies
In: Knowledge, Authority and Change in Islamic Societies
Senior scholars of Islamic studies and the anthropology of Islam gather in this volume to pay tribute to one of the giants of the field, Dale F. Eickelman. In diversely arrayed, rigorous and compelling chapters, leading historians, anthropologists, and political scientists elaborate through their own original research on Dale’s unique contributions to the study of the modern Muslim world. Eickelman’s reflections on the diverse intellectual traditions of Muslim societies and the scholars and laypersons who enact them remain defining as a framework for intellectual inquiry into the modern Muslim world and the profound changes that are transpiring within it.

Contributors are Jon W. Anderson, el-Sayed el-Aswad, Simeon Evstatiev, Allen James Fromherz, Harvey E. Goldberg, Gilles Kepel, Mandana Limbert, Simon O’Meara, Abdelrhani Moundib, Muhammad Khalid Masud, Nadav Samin, Susan Slyomovics, Jenny White and Muhammad Qasim Zaman.

Popular culture in the oil-exporting countries of the Arabian Peninsula is often seen as being caught between religiosity and conspicuous consumption. Mosques and shopping malls populate stereotypical descriptions of modern cities in the region, from Mecca to Dubai and from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh. Yet popular culture cannot be reduced to theme parks and taped sermons, rollercoasters, and pilgrimages. This paper introduces a kasra, which is a popular musical form used by Saudi youth to voice their desires, dissatisfaction and protests. This particular song, entitled ‘At-Taḥliya’, draws its name from a famous avenue of the Saudi capital, and touches upon same-sex love, unemployment, and economic hardship. A detailed introduction is followed by the transliteration of the song and its English translation.

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication