In 1932, the Al Saud family officially incorporated the Kingdom of the Hijaz into the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Hijazis became a people without a country of their own. Cradle of Islam focuses on contemporary Hijazi life and culture made subservient to the dominant national rules of Saudi Arabia, as dictated by a political and religious elite rooted in the central Najd region of the country. But centralisation was not enough to assimilate or tame Saudi Arabia's distinct regional cultures. The Al Saud family could rule but not fully integrate. This book is an insider's account of the hidden world of the Hijazis including their rituals which have helped to preserve Hijazi identity until now.
Mai Yamani is a research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London and has written and broadcast widely on her native Saudi Arabia. She was the first Saudi woman to receive a D. Phil from Oxford University where she conducted the research for this book. She studied at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and taught at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University.