Saudi vs. Najdi

I got the chance to visit Abdulraoof Khalil museum a few days ago as part of a conference organized by the Dar Al-Hekma Student Government, which I attended.

We were divided into three groups, each group to investigate into an era of the Arab peninsula; either pre-Islamic, early Islamic, or the Saudi era. I was chosen in the Saudi era group.

We listened while the tour guide took us around the Saudi ward, explaining certain incidents and stating facts. Something bothered me though so I decided to ask her about it.

I asked, “Is Hejaz region considered a Saudi land under the reign of the kings of the 3rd kingdom of Saudi Arabia?”


“What about Janoob (Southern region)?”

“Yes, Janoob, Shamal (Northern region) and Sharq (Eastern region)”

“So why does the ward named (Saudi heritage) only contain Najdi cultural items?”

I spent half an hour trying to understand why Najdi heritage was labelled as Saudi heritage whereas Saudi Arabia includes Najd, Hejaz, Janoob, Shamal and Sharq among other regions. I wondered aloud if it were unusual we gave everything its proper name? So if we had an exhibit of cultural items belonging to the Najdi heritage, we’d find a label (Najdi culture) over them and not (Saudi), exactly like how the Hejazi items were in the Hejazi heritage ward of the museum.

So after I finished, the tour guide said; “Do you know what? Your absolutely right! But we are not allowed to say this” and I literally stood there speechless for a minute trying to apprehend what the guide had just said!

“Not allowed?” I asked, “Why not?”

“Because we don’t want to upset anyone”

Now, this sentence really got me thinking, have we honestly sabotaged our internal judgment system to an extent that we no longer know what would upset anyone and what wouldn’t? Why in the world would giving each heritage the correct label upset “anyone”?!

I don’t think Najdi people would take offense if we named their heritage as (Najdi heritage), would they?

What do you think?


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