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Discoveries: Meet Saeed Al Suwaidi

Saeed Al Suwaidi has been involved in genealogy for just ten years but he is now the leading genealogist in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He will be publishing a book later this year about his research, taking family lines back to the 19th century in the Middle East.


Photo: Saeed Al Suwaidi. Credit: The National (Abu Dhabi, UAE), 12 May 2013.

Historically, genealogy has played an honored role in UAE and Islamic culture. As explained in an article from The National newspaper, Al Suwaidi was once asked by a judge during a court case if he knew "which of the Prophet Mohammed's companions was an expert in the field" of genealogy.

"Discovering that it was Abu Bakr Al Siddique, the Prophet's father-in-law and most senior of the companions—and that he had memorized the deeds and names of 10 generations—the young Emirati says he realized just what an honor it was to be a genealogist, a nassabah."

The article further states: "One of the goals of his work...is to strengthen the understanding of the relationships between tribes and make people more aware of how they are linked to each other."

Al Suwaidi incorporates gathered records, oral histories and DNA in tracing UAE family history. He has a Twitter account (in Arabic) with thousands of Twitter followers that send in genealogical questions—and in reply, he offers them suggestions on where to look further.

Just like genealogists anywhere in the world, Al Suwaidi encourages the current generation to record their memories, impressions and experiences with their own grandparents and extended relatives so that the knowledge of them—and their stories—will not be lost. He said: "You need to know who your family is, not to brag but to know."

We don't often see articles about genealogical research in Arabic-speaking countries.

Read the entire article here. The National (Abu Dhabi, UAE), 12 May 2013.