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Index / Peoples
Mahra
Also called: Fayfa
Other spelling: Mehra




Mahra by country
Figures in 1000.
Third column: % of country population
Oman
100 2.9%
Yemen
130 0.5%
Saudi Arabia
30 0.1%
Kuwait
20 0.7%

Mahra children

Mahra children.

South-Arabian people of southern Oman and northeastern Yemen, counting about 280,000 (2009 estimate). About 1/5 of all Mahra are emigrants to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
They have their own language, Mehri, which belongs to the South Arabian language family. Today, 60-70% of all Mahras speak Mehri as their first language, but it is losing ground to Arabic.
The Mahra still uphold much of their semi-nomadic traditions, although settled life is gaining ground, especially in Oman. The semi-nomads spend the winter months travelling into inner desert regions with livestock, and summers in villages. The settled Mahra live in semi-fortified villages, where their economy is much based upon the raising of camels and goats. There is also agriculture in these villages.
The largest Mahra settlement is the Yemeni town of Al-Ghayda, the capital of the Al-Mahra governorate, with 15,000 inhabitants (2009 estimate).
Practically all Mahra are Sunni Muslims.
Among the main foods of the Mahra is bread and porridge, sometimes with boiled meat or chicken.
Marriage happens within the tribe. There are very few examples of polygamy among them. Women are by all means secondary to men among the Mahra, and wear veils (see niqab) in all social circumstances. Even in modern times, men carry daggers visibly.




By Tore Kjeilen