Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. J. Petersen

Second Advisor

Dr. Davidson

Third Advisor

Dr. Cooney

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Tribes and tribalism play significant roles in the Arabian Gulf. The focus of this study is on the Al-Murrah tribe, one of the largest tribes in East Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This study will provide an analysis of the Al-Murrah political structure and their relationship with the Gulf states.

This study gathered information using three methods. This researcher visited about 30 majlis (sitting rooms for men) and listening to over 900 tribesmen respond to issues provided by the researcher. Historical and official documents were investigated and personal observation and experience were also used.

Al-Murrah have strong kinship ties which leads them to have strong social unity. Leaders are selected from large powerful lineage clans based on inheritance, knowledge/wisdom, bravery, and hospitality. Decision making is done with consultation between the leadership and decision makers within the tribe. Conflict is resolved by tribal justice and government law. Al-Murrah have a strong relationship with the Qatar government because they are the largest and most powerful tribe. Tribalism increases and declines depending upon the political conditions in the Gulf.