Note on the ‘Ajman Bedouins of Eastern Arabia

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 19th, 2017 in General

According to their own histories and the reports of British agents, the ‘Ajman are a Yemeni Bedouin tribe with an ancestral homeland around the city of Najran, today in South-West Saudi Arabia, but historically a Yemeni city until 1934. Their parent tribe of Yam still live in the Najran area. They trace further back to the Hashed, the dominant tribal confederation in modern Yemen.

The ‘Ajman seem to have moved to the north-east first, to southern Najd around 1720 AD. Captain George F. Sadleir, the first Westerner to cross the Arabian Peninsula from shore to shore, encountered them in Eastern Arabia in 1819, and dated their settling thereto the end or the twelfth century Hijri, or around 1780. Around 1820, the ‘Ajman joined forces with Turki ibn ‘Abdallah, the 5th ruler of the Saud dynastty and the founder of the Emirate of Najd, which was seeking to reestablish control over Eastern Arabia, where the Shiite tribal emirate of the Bani Khaled held sway.

In 1823, a large tribal coalition led by the ‘Ajman defeated  the Bani Khalid and moved into their Eastern Arabian realm. The battle, known as al-Radhimah, reportedly lasted for three months, and unfolded over four phases: the first pitting the ‘Ajman on their own against the Bani Khalid and their allies from the ‘Anazah, Dhafeer and Subay’; the second, with the Mutayr joining the ‘Ajman, in exchange for promises of spoils and territorial gains; the third, with sections of the Suhul and the Dawaser joining the ‘Ajman but still failing to crush the Bani Khalid and their allies; and, the fourth, when reinforcements from the feared Yam Bedouins came all the way from Yemen to support their ‘Ajman brethens and finally tipped the balance in their favor. One more defeat at the hands of the Saudi troops of Faysal ibn Turki and his Subay’ allies in 1830 sealed the fate of the Bani Khalid nomads, who dislocated and disintegrated, some settling in al-Hasa towns and others moving northwards to what is today Iraq, Syria and Jordan.

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