How the Introduction of Oil and Capitalism Affected Saudi Arabian Culture: Background information when reading In the Kingdom of Men

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In the Kingdom of Men

A Novel

by Kim Barnes

In the Kingdom of Men
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  • First Published:
    May 2012, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2013, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Beyond the Book:
How the Introduction of Oil and Capitalism Affected Saudi Arabian Culture

In In the Kingdom of Men, Gin McPhee finds herself plopped inside an ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Company) compound in the 1960s, an oasis that is neither wholly American nor Arabic but is somehow an incongruous mashup within a country still grappling with the culture shock wrought by 20th century capitalism. But what did that culture shock look like in real life?

ARAMCO headquarters complex

Eons of social and economic tradition had established a tight symbiotic relationship between Arab desert nomads (Bedouin) and the stationary farmers and villagers; nomads tended to the grazing livestock while the stationary families produced consumable goods, from tent poles to dates. Very few people were wage earners. It had always been a mostly self-contained, life-sustaining economy that valued family over all else. Traditional Arab families consist of fathers and children. Women - wives, mothers - remained in the families of their fathers, even after marriage. They kept their fathers' names and could own ...

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