This study concerns the traditional social, ecomic and political systems of the Arab sheikhdoms of the Gulf. It represents a an in-depth insight into the complex and varied cultural patterns of the Arabs, Persians and the people of the East African Coast in the 1950s, before the advent of oil wealth radically altered the style of life and expectations of the people living in these sheikdoms. Lienhardt discusses the tribal structure, relations between men and women, the ecomics of pearl fishing, the growth of towns and the complex relationship between the ruling sheikhs and their subjects. His findings offer a key to the understanding of the political system and the transition from the tribal to the class system.
PETER LIENHARDT (1928-1986) was attached to St Antony's College Oxford, first as a Research Fellow, then Fellow and finally as College Lecturer. From 1962 until his death he was Faculty Lecturer in Middle Eastern Sociology at the Institute of Social Anthropology, Oxford. AHMED AL-SHAHI has published widely on Sudan and the Middle East. After taking early retirement he pursues his research interests in northern Sudan and the Middle East as a Senior Associate Member of St Antony's College, Oxford, attached to the Middle East Centre.