||This article needs attention from an expert in Saudi Arabia. (November 2008)|
The Al Murrah (Arabic: قبيلة آل مرة) is a noble or a sharif Arab tribe descended from the well-known Banu Yam tribe. The members of the Al Murrah end their names with "Al Murry" also spelled "Al Marri" and "Al Masarri" to correspond to the Arabic pronunciation. They reside in countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Wadi Amad of Yemen. Historically, Al Murrah was a tribe of camel-herding nomads, who controlled and travelled through a vast area of the Arabian Peninsula.
There's a saying in Saudi Arabia, Fi al Sama barqiyah, Fi al ard Marriyah, which means, "In the sky the telegraph; on the ground Al Murrah." The saying, in couplet form, pays a subtle tribute to the tribe of nomads which more than any other has given birth—and considerable substance—to the colorful image of the desert Bedouins: Al Murrah, one of the largest and most important tribes of the country.
Seven clans make up the Al Murrah, according to Donald Cole, an anthropologist that has studied the Al Murrah. Travelling as much as 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) each year, the tribe comprises approximately 15,000 individuals. One of the most noted names among Al Murrah is the leader (shaikh) Sulaiman Bin Ghanim, who lived somewhere between 950-1100 AD.
Historically, the Al Murrah tribe made up a large proportion of Qatar's ethnic population. Estimates dating back to 2005 put the figure between 5,000 and 10,000, suggesting that they accounted for anywhere between 2.5% to 5% of the Qatari population at that time.
In 1885, a number of Al Murrah tribespeople, along with several members from the Bani Hajer tribe, renounced their allegiance to Qatar and departed from the country. The two families were joined by the Ajman tribe, whom were known to harbor hostilities toward Qatar and regularly engage in skirmishes with its inhabitants. While the group was encamped in an area between Qatar and Oman, a regiment of 1,200 partisans composed of branches of Al Murrah and Bani Hajer loyal to the sheikh of Qatar engaged the group. Although the three tribes boasted a combined force of 2,000 men and outnumbered the opposition, they were inflicted with heavy losses.
A majority of tribe members were strong supporters of Sheikh Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar who was deposed in 1995 in a coup by his son. Eight months after the coup, 119 Al Murrah members attempted to overthrow the new Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, but failed. In February 2000, 19 of the alleged perpetrators had been sentenced to death, 33 were sentenced to life in prison, and the rest were acquitted. However, none of those sentenced to death were executed.
- Donald Cole. Nomads of the Nomads: The Al Murrah Bedouin of the Empty Quarter (1975) (ISBN 978-0-88295-605-3(
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