Indigenous Polygyny in Dhofar: (Re-)Interpretations of Individual Options and Daring Delineations


Arabian Gulf
consanguineous polygyny
cultural flow
indigenous systems
multi-cultural adaptation

How to Cite

Profanter, A., & Cate, S. R. (2019). Indigenous Polygyny in Dhofar: (Re-)Interpretations of Individual Options and Daring Delineations. Al-Raida Journal, 43(1), 11-33. Retrieved from


Polygyny is widely practiced across Dhofar, a region located in the Sultanate of Oman, reflecting the resiliency of Islamic family law. However, as the country is accommodating transnational influences polygynous marital arrangements are undergoing changes. Drawing on qualitative data collected within a large-scale quantitative study comprising a sample of 1,192 respondents on polygyny in Dhofar between 2004–2010, the entanglements between religious mores on, and cultural practices of polygyny are discussed through individual case-work analysis. First, it is argued that polygynous marriage remains a pragmatic arrangement in the context of tribal relationships. Second, the tension in redefining gender roles is manifest primarily in this marital arrangement. Third, through cultural flow and technological, economic, and educational changes, re-interpretation of mating strategies are encompassing a slow shift from pragmatism to romanticism. The digital nature of communications and cultural identity acquisition in the twenty-first century continues to influence and guide the manifestations of change presented by the data that show the small but vital steps being made by men and women that are redefining and reinterpreting polygyny and society as a whole.

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