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Tracing tribal roots in the UAE

Abu Dhabi-based Emirati to launch first of a series of books on genealogy of prominent tribes in the UAE

  • All ears. Saeed Khamis Al Suwaidi listening with rapt attention to elderly Emirati Habroot Bin Sultan Al KitbiImage Credit: supplied photos
  • Poet Khadim Al Mansoori is among hundreds who recounted their experiencesImage Credit: Supplied
  • Ex-pearl diver Al Dhubaib Bin Ahmad Al Muhairi recounted his experiences for the bookImage Credit: Supplied
  • Family tree. A pedigree chart created by Saeed Khamis Al SuwaidiImage Credit: Supplied
  • Receipt of palm tree purchased by Saeed Khamis Al Suwaidi's forefathers over 250 years agoImage Credit: Supplied
XPRESS

ABU DHABI: An Abu Dhabi-based Emirati is all set to launch the first of a series of books on the genealogy of prominent UAE tribes.

Saeed Khamis Al Suwaidi, who works at the National Archives Abu Dhabi, said the book will be in English and based on the study of family trees and oral history accounts painstakingly gathered from hundreds of interviews conducted with local familes over the past 12 years.

Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families and important events using audio and video tapes.

Bani Yas

Suwaidi said the first edition of the yet-to-be-titled book, which will be released this year, will focus on the Al Bu Falah clan of the Bani Yas tribe, one of the most highly regarded tribes in southern Arabia and the first to inhabit Abu Dhabi. Made up of 20 sub-sections, orginally centred on the Liwa Oasis, Bani Yas is also the most significant tribe of the UAE. As befits a tribe from which so many noble families have come, the members of this tribe are famous for their generosity and hospitality and patronage to arts and literature.

Passion

Suwaidi said his passion for documenting family histories started as a child.

“I was always curious to find out about my ancestors and extended families. What started 12 years ago soon became a passion as I started documenting details of my family. Along the way I made some fascinating discoveries. Not only was I able to trace ancestral roots, I also found the receipt of a palm tree my forefathers purchased in Sharjah’s Al Khan area over 250 years ago.

Buoyed by the success, Suwaidi set out to find the roots of other Emirati families. “It was quite a daunting task which somewhat became easier when my relatives connected me to their extended families. As part of my research, I spoke to hundreds of families and made their family trees. Besides family charts of tribe members and detailed accounts of their ancestors, the book will also contain chapters on their traditions and culture.”” he recalled.

Suwaidi said his ultimate goal is to reach out to every Emirati in the UAE. “I don’t leave any chance to meet and interview people. For example, on New Year’s Eve I had a chance to meet an 80-year-old man, Habrooth Al Kitbi, living in Al Hayer, Al Ain. He was a key to a missing family link I was looking for.

“When I meet someone I take down their full name, family history and details about their parents, grand-parents and great grand-parents. I record all conversations and transcribe them later.”

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