The Political Complex

Part of the St Antony’s Series book series (STANTS)


This book is concerned with the traditional society of the Trucial Coast of Oman, more particularly in its political aspect, and with the government of shaikhs as it has existed there over the last two centuries. The society of the Trucial Coast is a small one and the style of government has been highly personal and, in that sense, simple. Excepting for the wider culture of Arabia and of Islam, the society has borrowed relatively little from the outside until very recent years. Foreign models and foreign ideologies1 have played no part in forming its dominant institutions. As the title of heads of state, shaikh, in these little principalities suggests, their form of government is connected with the institutions of the bedouin tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. And bedouin form an important and formidable part of the population. But something beyond tribal institutions has needed to develop, since a large part of the population has traditionally been made up of settled people in coastal towns and villages who depended for their living on the sea. The centres of government of the Trucial shaikhs have been the coastal towns.


Local Politics Trade Route Coastal Town Maritime Activity Boat Owner 
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  1. 1.
    For a short biography and publications of Peter Lienhardt, see Ahmed Al-Shahi, ‘Peter Lienhardt 1928–1986: Biographical notes and bibliography’ in Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, vol. 27, no. 2, 1996.Google Scholar

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© Ahmed Al-Shahi 2001

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