Writer Abdullah Alkhorayef meditates on the nature of home in a fast-moving Kingdom
We’ve all heard the expression “Home is where the heart is.”
The idiom is thought to have originated in the US around the 1820s. In Arabic, we have a similar concept of home as an idea rather than a place. The notion of dar or diyar expresses home as exactly this. Their meaning is closer to that of Watan, a homeland.
In Bedouin culture, home is wherever you happen to be. It is your tribe, your family, your herd, your sparse belongings, your tent – anything that offers you shelter and sustenance. On the other hand, one can argue that the vastness of emptiness in our landscape is itself our home. The tents and belongings are merely the furniture, the sky is our roof, the landscape is our architecture, and the weather, and natural elements are our utilities and services.
The home in Bedouin culture is not a structure, it’s the land.
Perhaps we are influenced as a nation by this notion of home, as something you carry with you – physically and emotionally. Think of the youth migrating to the capital from the four corners of the country to work in the fast-growing economy. They are modern nomads settling where their dreams are created and achieved. It is also why we are adaptable.
If you take our home in the largest sense – the Kingdom – the changes it has gone through since the Vision was unveiled in 2016 could make others feel dislocated. But not us; I feel more at home than I have ever felt.
Home is both the starting point and the destination in our lives. We leave it to engage with society, but society also comes to us – through family gatherings and our ever-present majlis. The home is a link between the past and the future, the reality and the abstract, the body and the spirit.