Saudi Arabia Traditions

By | September 24, 2021


According to animalerts, traditional costumes are widespread throughout the country, albeit with some differences between the cities and the rest of the territory. From the Bedouin tradition comes the ardha, the dance of swords to the rhythm of the drums, with the involvement of a poet who acts as a narrator. The prescriptions of Islam and the needs due to the torrid climate still condition aspects of daily life such as clothing, cooking and social relations. Different decorations and designs of the fabrics characterize the different communities; the clothes, both male and female, are wide and long; men wear ghutra, a cloth headdress tied to the head with a twisted rope (igaal). Women are required to wear the cloak (abaaya) and the veil (shayla); the latter, generally black, is often embellished with silver and stone jewels and jewels of remarkable workmanship. The cuisine, in which religious customs are confused with the habits of a country that formerly hosted the caravan routes to the East, excludes pork and alcoholic beverages and makes extensive use of spices (especially in the eastern region). Typical dishes vary from region to region; include unleavened bread (khoboz) and rice (with saffron, red or brown), fish and meat of chicken, mutton and lamb, legumes and various vegetables, fruit, especially dates and coffee, prepared in the Turkish way, offered to guests as a sign welcome. Popular are the harisah, a dish based on meat, cereals and sugar, ful mudammas, made with broad beans and, among the desserts, jubniyyah, made with goat cheese, and masub, with chopped bananas and sweet bread. At wedding dinners, guests are offered saliq, rice with lamb or chicken, served with duqqus, a spicy sauce.


Wahhābite rigorism, a condition of substantial extraneousness of the country to the movement of cultural rebirth of the Arab world, as well as the prevailing tribal structure, are among the factors that have contributed to the maintenance of conservative literary forms not only in the Neged but also in the Hêijāz, which it was the cradle of pagan Arabic poetry. The poetry, faithful to traditional rhythmic patterns, is often dedicated to the panegyric and to the riṯā ‘ (elegy); still in the second half of the century. XX was not uncommon to find qaṣīda of circumstance in the newspapers of Mecca and Medina. Among the poets we point out: Muḥammad ibn Surūr aṣ-Ṣabbān, Aḥmad Ibrāhīm al-Ghazzawī, Abd al-Haqq an-Naqshibandi, Aḥmad al-ʽArabī, also known as a prose writer, Aḥmad Qindīl (1911-1979), ḥusayn.) and Ibrahīm ibn Ghaʽis. Hamūd ibn Zaid and Ḥusayn Sarrāǧ, author of the first Saudi drama, among other things, belong to the next generation. In the last decades of the century. XX has established a more committed poetry, attentive to the problems of women, the Third World, racism, etc., and a recovery of the dialectal lyric has been made. Prince ʽAbdallāh al-Fayṣal Āl Saʽūd (b. 1921) deserves a place to himself, a clear awareness of the contradictions of a rapidly changing world. More and more poised between the progress due to oil and the call of ancient traditional values, literary production has taken up ancient themes in a modern key with the poet Muḥammad Ḥasan ʽAwwād (1902-1980), while Ghāzī al-Quṣaibī (b. 1949) represents the modernist school. In the narrative the short story emerges with SubāʽīʽUthmān (n. 1938) and ʽAbd Allāh as-Sālmī (n. 1950); while for the novel we remember Ibrāhīm an-Nāṣir (b. 1933) and the Jordanian-Saudi ʽAbd ar-Raḥmān Munīf (1933-2004), considered one of the greatest writers of the entire Arab world. Finally, the increasing role played by women in the development not only of society but also of culture and literature in Saudi Arabia should not be underestimated. Many writers have devoted themselves to the short story genre: Fāṭimah Ḥinnāwī (b.1949), Ḥayriyyah al-Šaqqāf (b.1951), Ruqayyah Šabīb (b.1952), Fawziyyah al-Bakr (b.1958), Nadà al- Tasan (b.1970). Saudi writers also distinguished themselves in poetry: among them stands Fawziyyah Abū Ḥālid (b. 1955) who worked above all on the language of her verses, written in a style close to symbolism. The rigidity of the fundamentalists does not spare the most daring intellectuals in recounting the situation of Saudi society, often threatened with death by the fundamentalists and forced to flee abroad; among others the journalist Turki al-Ḥamād (b.1953), the novelist Yousef al-Mohaimeed (b.1964), the writer Laila al-Giuhni (b.1969) with her debut novel The lost song, Rajaa al-Sanea (b. 1982).


Almost nothing remains of the earliest Islamic period, except for the archaeological remains of well-structured settlements from the Abbasid era, which have been unearthed along the pilgrimage routes. The holy places, subject to continuous and consistent alterations (especially in two eras, that is, in the Ottoman period and after the Second World War) have taken on a modern aspect. Popular architecture is of some interest, which differs depending on the region for the typology – tower-houses in the South (Najrān) and in the eastern areas (Gidda, Aṭ-Ṭā’if), houses with internal courtyards in the remaining regions – and for the decoration, always very sober, and concentrated around the windows and doors. Large architectural projects, such as the Hajj Terminal at Giddah airport, tend to combine traditional artistic forms with modern techniques and materials, thanks also to the involvement of internationally renowned architects, including Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986), to whom they owe Dhahran airport and the headquarters of the Saudi arabian monetary agency in Riyadh, built between the beginning of the sixties and the beginning of the eighties of the twentieth century.

Saudi Arabia Traditions