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Raʾīs (Arabic: رئیس; also spelled Raees) is a title used by the rulers of Arab states in the Middle East and South Asia. Swahili speakers on the Swahili Coast may also use it for president. It is translated as "president" in Arabic, and as "wealthy" in Persian. In Urdu, the word Rais is also used as the opposite or antonym of Nouveau riche, a person who has accummulated considerable wealth within his or her generation.
From Persian this word came into Ottoman Turkish as reis, and into Urdu as raees, and means a person belonging to the aristocracy. When the book "The pleasure of Philosophy" by Will Durant was translated into Urdu, by Syed Abid Ali Abid, he translated the word aristocracy with the Urdu word raiseeat (رئیسيت).
In India the word was used in many cities, especially in Lucknow for the sophisticated and urban members of a culture that combines emotional warmth, a high degree of sophistication, courtesy, and a love for gracious living. This class of Lucknow can be compared with the 18th century aristocrat class of France before the French Revolution.
In the rural areas of the Punjab, the word is also used for the head of an ancient tribe or a person belonging to old landed aristocracy. The adjective 'Azam' great, is also added to mean 'the great rais'.