The aim of this national case study, a synthetic summary of the work and evidence on women in a tribal, Muslim, Arabian, rapidly changing society, is to contribute to the intersection of the Middle Eastern and women-in-development literatures by situating women first within tribal and Islamic settings and then in the context of rapid changes in political and economic circumstances during the past thirty years. It therefore considers feminine roles in the different historical social strata before examining how new services brought by modernization, class formation associated with the penetration of capitalism, and political struggles between right and left all affect women's positions in modernizing Arab societies. What I hope to show is that the relationship between modernization and women's status is not a straightforward one, even in an apparently patriarchal Arab context.

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Copyright © 1996 Clarendon Press. This chapter first appeared in Patriarchy and Development: Women's Positions at the End of the Twentieth Century

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