I am happy to announce that my third book, Houseways in Southern Oman,  is now available for pre-order

I am happy to announce that my third book, Houseways in Southern Oman,  is now available for pre-order

https://www.routledge.com/Houseways-in-Southern-Oman/Risse/p/book/9781032218595

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003270317/houseways-southern-oman-marielle-risse

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Marielle%20Risse%22;jsessionid=5F50CF600F2E67884717DB4392396282.prodny_store02-atgap17?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

https://www.amazon.com/Houseways-Southern-Oman-Marielle-Risse/dp/1032218592

https://www.amazon.com/Marielle-Risse/e/B08SKYD848/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

Houseways in Dhofar: Placement of Furniture and Sightlines – التقاليد المتبعة في ترتيب المناز بظفار

التقاليد المتبعة في ترتيب المنازل بظفار: وضع الأثاث وعلاقته بمجال النظر

 

click here to see original post: Houseways in Dhofar: Placement of Furniture and Sightlines

I am very grateful to Arooba Al Mashikhi for her work in translating some of my essays about houses in Dhofar.

I am grateful to Maria Cristina Hidalgo [https://www.mariacristinah.com/ ] for her helpful plans and to my informants who have allowed me to chart their homes.

ممتنة لماريا كريستينا هيدالجو لسماحها لي بالاطلاع على خططها المفيدة، -ولأولئك الذين سمحوا لي برسم منازلهم.

[https://www.mariacristinah.com/]

 

1) Perspective view of front hallway

Model

The first point is that when one walks through the main door, there is often no furniture in sight. Sometimes there is a high, narrow table near the door to set things on that will be out of reach of children or one might be able to get a glimpse into the salle but, as the perspective below illustrates, most of the furnishings are out of sight.

1 – عرض منظوري – للردهة – الأمامية

النقطة الأولى هي أنه عندما يمر المرء عبر الباب الرئيسي،  – لا يجدُ في الغالب اثاثاً. -–توجد أحياناً طاولة مرتفعة وضيقة بالقرب من الباب لوضع  أشياءٍ وإبقاءها – بعيدًا عن متناول الأطفال أو قد يتمكن المرء من إلقاء نظرة خاطفة على الصالة ولكن ، كما يوضح المنظور أدناه ، فإن معظم قطع الأثاث تبقى بعيدة عن الأنظار -.

 

2) Ground floor plan with furniture

Below is a bird’s eye view of the same house, showing how, as is usual in Dhofari houses, all the furniture is placed against the wall except for the small, moveable tables in the salle and majlis which are put in front of guests (represented here with small squares).

2) مخطط الطابق الأرضي مع الأثاث

نجدُ أدناه منظراً من الأعلى لنفس المنزل ، يوضح كيف يتم وضع الأثاث كما هو معتاد في المنازل الظفارية ، حيث توضع جميع قطع الأثاث – بمحاذاة الحائط باستثناء الطاولات الصغيرة المتحركة في الصالة والمجلس والتي توضع أمام الضيوف (- ممثلةً هنا بمربعات صغيرة)

Model

 

A few notes about the ground floor plan:

  • All the furniture is against the wall, most notable in the kitchen which has a small built-in table.
  • The salle is open to the main hallway but there is also a sliding door in the family salle and a door in kitchen, plus the outside door in the majlis. Thus, there could be four different types of visitors to the house at the same time who would not see each other because each were using a different door: male guests in the majlis, female guests in the salle, relatives in the family salle and a cleaner, repair person or someone bringing supplies such as drinking water or a gas canister into the kitchen.
  • The arch over the hallway at the far end separates the more public area (guest and family salles) from the family-only areas of the kitchen and one of the family suites.
  • The bedroom and maid’s room doors are set at 180 degrees from someone walking in from the front door; there is no way to see in “by chance.” Further, the beds are placed in such as way that they can only be seen if a person walks into the room.
  • There is constant air movement; the house has split ACs (meaning the motor is on the roof) and the kitchen and every bathroom has an exhaust fan which are usually on all the time.
  • There are five family suites on the upper floor, meaning the staircase is both the least used in terms of time (no one sits on the stairs) and most used in that every member of the house will use the stairs several times a day, except for the person living in the downstairs bedroom. For example, a women who does not cook might not enter the kitchen every day and a man might not have a reason to enter the salle for a week at a time.

بعض الملاحظات – عن مخطط الطابق الأرضي:

توضع جميع قطع  الأثاث  – بمحاذاة الحائط ،  وتوضع أبرز قطع الاثاث في المطبخ الذي يحتوي على طاولة صغيرة مدمجة – في الجدار.

– الصالة مفتوحة على – الردهة الرئيسية ولكن يوجد أيضًا باب منزَلِق في الصالة العائلية وباب في المطبخ بالإضافة إلى الباب الخارجي في المجلس. وبالتالي ، يمكن أن يكون هناك أربعة أنواع مختلفة من زوار المنزل في نفس الوقت  لا يرى بعضهم  البعض الآخر لأن كلاً منهم كان يستخدم بابًا مختلفًا: الضيوف الذكور في المجلس ، و الضيوف الاناث في الصالة والأقارب في صالة العائلة، وعامل تنظيف او تصليح أوشخصا لجلب – الاحتياجات مثل مياة الشرب واسطوانة الغاز – إلى المطبخ. 

– يفصل القوس – الذي يعلو نهاية الردهة؛ المنطقة العامة (صالة الضيوف والعائلة) عن المناطق المخصصة للعائلة فقط مثل المطبخ وأحد الأجنحة العائلية

– – تُركّبُ أبواب غرف النوم وغرفة العاملة المنزلية – بزاوية 180 درجة – عن – من يدخل من الباب الأمامي حتى لا يتم رؤية مابداخلها “بالصدفة”. علاوة على ذلك ، – توضعُ الأسرة بطريقة لا يمكن رؤيتها إلا – مِمَّن يدخلُ إلى الغرفة.

– هناك حركة هواء – مستمرة لأن المنزل – مزودٌ بمكيفات مركزية (بمعنى أن مروحة المكيف على سطح المنزل)  وفي المطبخ وكل حمام  مروحةُ شفط تعمل عادة طوال الوقت.

– توجد خمسة أجنحة عائلية في – الدور العلوي ، مما يعني أن الدرج هو الأقل استخدامًا من حيث الوقت (فلا أحد يجلس على الدرج) والأكثر استخدامًا ف-  في ذات الوقت لأن كل فرد في المنزل سيستخدم السلالم عدة مرات في اليوم ، باستثناء الشخص الذي يعيش في غرفة النوم – بالدور السفلي. على سبيل المثال ، قد لا تدخل المرأة التي لا تطبخ إلى المطبخ كل يوم وقد لا يكون لدى الرجل سبباً لدخول الصالة – لأسبوع -.

 

3) Example of family suite

Model

 

A door to the hallway which leads to a suite with a bathroom and two rooms is a very common floor plan in Dhofar; sometimes there is an additional store room. When a couple is newly married, one room is a bedroom and the other a sitting room. If they have several children, the suite will be set up as above, with one room for the parents and one for the children. When the children are older, they might be moved into a different suite which has one room with same gender relatives of the same age (siblings, cousins, etc.) and the second room as a study/ plan room. Only in very large houses would one person have a suite to themselves.

3) –  نموذجٌ لجناح عائلي

يعد تخطيط باب – الردهة – المؤدي إلى جناح – مكوَّنٍ من حمام وغرفتين تخطيطاً شائعاً جدًا في ظفار ؛  وقد تكون هناكَ أحياناً -غرفة تخزين إضافية. عندما يتزوج شخصان حديثًا ، تكون إحدى الغرف غرفة نوم والأخرى غرفة جلوس. – وإن كان – للزوجين عدة أطفال ، فسيتم إعداد الجناح على النحو التالي ، – غرفة واحدة للوالدين وغرفة للأطفال. عندما يكبر الأطفال ، قد – ينقلوا إلى جناح مختلف – – فيه غرفة – يشاطرونها أقاربهم من نفس الجنس – والعمر (الأشقاء وأبناء العم ، وما إلى ذلك) – وغرفة – ثانية تُستخدمُ  كغرفة دراسة أو تحضير. ولن تجدَ شخصاً يسكنُ جناحاً بأكمله إلا  – في المنازل – الضخمة.

Houseways: Who Visits Which Rooms? – التقاليد المتبعة في ترتيب المنازل: أي حجرة يحق للشخص الجلوس فيها؟

I am very grateful to Arooba Al Mashikhi for her work in translating some of my essays about houses in Dhofar.

click here to see original post:  July 10, 2021

Upper-class, English, Victorian-era homes had a set of rooms for children which would include a day nursery, night nursery, schoolroom, bathroom and the nanny’s room. In present-day America, a middle-class child might play on the kitchen floor while a parent is cooking, do homework on the dining room table, watch TV in a basement rec room, sit by the fire in a den or study, i.e. sit in different rooms for different purposes during one day.

كانت منازل الطبقة العليا الإنجليزية في العصر الفيكتوري تحتوي على مجموعة من الغرف للأطفال والتي تشمل حضانة نهارية وحضانة ليلية ، وغرفة مدرسية ، وحمام وغرفة للمربية. أما الان في أمريكا ، قد يلعب طفل من الطبقة المتوسطة على أرضية المطبخ أثناء قيام أحد الوالدين بالطهي  أو أداء واجباته المنزلية على طاولة غرفة الطعام  أو مشاهدة التلفزيون في غرفة الاسترخاء في الطابق السفلي ، أو الجلوس أو الدراسة بجانب الموقد في غرفة الطعام أي الجلوس في غرف مختلفة لأغراض مختلفة خلال يوم واحد.

Whereas young Dhofari children spend most of their in-door time in their parent’s bedroom and the salle. When they are close to puberty they will move to their own bedroom or a room with several children who are the same gender and around the same age. Children are only in the majlis in the presence of adults and for a reason, for example an uncle is visiting or they are working with a tutor.

في حين أن الأطفال في ظفار يقضون معظم وقتهم في المنزل في غرفة نوم والديهم وفي الصالة. عندما يقتربون من سن البلوغ ، ينتقلون إلى غرفة نومهم الخاصة أو غرفة بها العديد من الأطفال من نفس الجنس وفي نفس العمر تقريبًا. يتواجد الأطفال في المجلس فقط بحضور الكبار ولسبب ما ، على سبيل المثال ، عندما يقوم العم أو الخال بزيارة أو عند دراستهم مع معلمهم.

Dhofari children spend a lot of their free time out of the house once they can walk: in the hosh if younger than 3 or 4, then in front/ near house, then within the neighborhood in mixed gender/ mixed age groups until close to puberty. They also know the salle or majlis of many houses (grandparents, uncles/ aunts and older siblings) but will usually not play/ hang out in a cousin’s bedroom, although they might sleep there if it is an overnight visit. Children sleeping over at relatives’ houses is common, even among families which live close to each other. For example, when one female Dhofari friend was sick, she sent her child to stay for two weeks with her parents who live nearby.

يقضي الأطفال في ظفار الكثير من أوقات فراغهم خارج المنزل بمجرد أن يتمكنوا من المشي: في الحوش إذا كان أصغر من 3 أو 4 سنوات ، ثم أمام أو بالقرب المنزل ، ثم داخل الحي في مجموعات مختلطة الجنس والأعمار حتى قرب سن البلوغ . إنهم يعرفون أيضًا الصالة أو المجلس للعديد من المنازل (الأجداد والأعمام / العمات والأشقاء الأكبر سنًا) ولكنهم عادة لا يلعبون أو يتسكعون في غرفة نوم ابن عمهم ، على الرغم من أنهم قد ينامون هناك لليوم التالي إذا كانت زيارة ليلية. إن نوم الأطفال في منازل الأقارب أمر شائع ، حتى بين العائلات التي تعيش بالقرب من بعضها البعض. على سبيل المثال ، عندما كانت صديقة ظفارية مريضة ، أرسلت طفلها للإقامة لمدة أسبوعين مع والديها اللذين يعيشان في مكان قريب.

As children grow older, they experience the same house differently as the use of rooms is linked to both gender and age. For example, a Gibali girl visiting her paternal uncle’s house: as a baby she might be taken into the majlis by her father who is holding her; as a five-year old, she might spend the visit playing outside with male and female cousins; as a 14 year old, she might sit in the salle with her mom and older sisters. If she marries a cousin from this family, she will be expected to go into the majlis when there are visitors to bring tea and, perhaps, sit and visit.

مع تقدم الأطفال في العمر ، يعيشون في نفس المنزل بشكل مختلف حيث يرتبط استخدام الغرف بكل من الجنس والعمر. فعلى سبيل المثال ، عند زيارة فتاة جبالية منزل عمها: كطفلة قد يمسك والدها يدها ويحملها إلى المجلس ؛ وعندما تبلغ من العمر خمس سنوات ، قد تقضي الزيارة تلعب في الخارج مع أبناء عمومتها من الذكور والإناث ؛ وعندما تبلغ من العمر 14 عامًا ، قد تجلس في الصالة مع والدتها وأخواتها الأكبر سنًا. وإذا تزوجت من ابن عم من هذه العائلة ، فمن المتوقع أن تذهب إلى المجلس عندما يكون هناك زوار لإحضار الشاي ، وربما للجلوس والزيارة.

Further, men experience houses differently according to what his relationship is with the house owners. A boy will spend time in the salle of relatives’ houses when young and the majlis when older but there are many variables. For example, a 25-year-old Gibali man with three sisters (A, B and C) would have different visiting patterns depending on who owns/ controls the house that the sister lives in. He visits sister A in her salle because A and her husband own their own home and visits sister B in her salle because B married a cousin, thus the other women in the salle are his relatives. But he visits sister C in the majlis because C lives in her husband’s father’s home who are not relatives, so the salle is for C’s mother- and sisters-in-law.

فضلا عن ذلك، يستشعر الرجل المنازل بشكل مختلف وفقًا لعلاقته مع أصحاب المنزل، حيث يقضي الصبي وقتًا في الصالة بمنزل الأقارب عندما يكون صغيراً وفي المجلس عندما يكبر ولكن هناك متغيرات كثيرة. فعلى سبيل المثال ، سيكون لرجل جبالي يبلغ من العمر 25 عامًا ولديه ثلاث أخوات (أ ، ب ، ج) أنماط زيارة مختلفة اعتمادًا على من يملك / يتحكم في المنزل الذي تعيش فيه الأخت. فيزور الأخت (أ) في صالتها لأنها هي وزوجها يمتلكون منزلهما الخاص بهما ويزور الأخت “ب” في صالتها لأن “ب” تزوجت من ابن عمها ، فباقي النساء في الصالة هم من أقاربه. ولكنه يزور الأخت (ج) في المجلس لأن (ج) تعيش في منزل والد زوجها وهم ليسوا أقارب ، لذلك فإن الصالة مخصصة لوالدة زوجها وأخواته.

In a similar way, a married man who visits his wife when she is at her parent’s house might sit in the salle (if he is closely related to her family) or the majlis (if he is not). As most Dhofari women stay with their mother or an older sister for 40 days after the birth of their first child, a husband’s behavior is on display. All the female relatives of the new mother will know how often he visits, how long he stays and what he brings with him. This information is passed on to the general community, for example when a general question such as “how is the new mom doing?” is answered with, “fine, alhamdulillah, and her husband came every day to visit in the majlis,” his reputation (and the reputation of his family) is increased. This is a man who respects his wife and takes his responsibilities seriously. When the sister of one friend had her first baby, the family tried not to use the majlis at certain times so the husband could visit his wife and baby in privacy.

وبطريقة مماثلة ، يمكن للرجل المتزوج الذي يزور زوجته عندما تكون في منزل والديها أن يجلس في الصالة (إذا كان على صلة وثيقة بأسرتها) أو في المجلس (إذا لم يكن كذلك). ونظرًا لأن معظم النساء الظفاريات يبقين مع أمهن أو أختهن الكبرى لمدة 40 يومًا بعد ولادة طفلهن الأول ، فإن سلوك الزوج يكون على مرأى من الجميع. فستعرف جميع قريبات الأم الجديدة عدد المرات التي يزورها ، ومدة إقامته وما الذي يجلبه معه عند الزيارة. وتنقل هذه المعلومات إلى المجتمع العام ، فعلى سبيل المثال عند طرح سؤال عام مثل “كيف حال الأم الجديدة؟” تكون الإجابة: “بخير ، الحمد لله ، وزوجها يأتي كل يوم لزيارتها في المجلس” ، فتزداد شهرته (وسمعة عائلته). فهذا رجل يحترم زوجته ويأخذ مسؤولياته على محمل الجد. وعندما رزقت أخت أحد الأصدقاء بمولودها الأول ، حاولت الأسرة عدم استخدام المجلس في أوقات معينة حتى يتمكن الزوج من زيارة زوجته وطفله في خصوصية.

(photo of majlis by informant, used with permission)

 (صورة للمجلس التقطها أحد مقدمي المعلومات، وعرضت بعد الموافقة)

Reflections on Houseways Research

I got the e-mail confirming that my Houseways book will be published in January 2023 while sitting in a living room that is completely opposite of the rooms I have described and lived in Oman. The Canadian house had wooden floors and furniture, windows without curtains, no AC, a big fireplace, floor lamps, crocheted afghans, many photos and bookshelves overflowing with novels, candles, puzzles, souvenirs and small wooden carvings of birds. Looking at the room while thinking of the descriptions of Omani houses in my book was a good reminder of how differently people arrange their living spaces.

Given that my academic background is literature and travel writing, it might seem odd that I decided to write about houses, but I grew up in a home in which everyone had strong opinions about how to live and an active interest in building decks, planting gardens, finding a rug in exactly the right shade of blue and putting the sofa there, no, not there, there, a little to the right, no, now forward a little.

As I child, I wanted to live in a Baroque castle; everyone else wanted to live in a modernist, northern European design-aesthetic structure. I wanted to read novels; everyone else wanted to figure out if it was possible to punch a hole in that wall to put in a window. For my 13th birthday I wanted a ball gown and was given my very own tool kit with hammer, pliers, wrench, level and screwdrivers.

I heard about Mansard roofs, color wheels, mixed-use developments and Frank Lloyd Wright. Our living room had a Barcelona chair, a Scandinavian Designs sofa and a Century House (Madison, WI) rug; when my father and I went to England, it was to see Milton Keynes and Welwyn Garden City. I watched my family build furniture, swatch paints, install insulation, build benches to strengthen community bonds in our neighborhood and weed. I read in cafés while they re-framed doorways.

The root of this problem was that when he was in his early 20s, my father walked into Louisburg Square in Boston and thought, “everyone should live like this.” That collection of houses changed his life; he became an urban planner and spent more than 60 years thinking, talking, writing and teaching about how to form better-organized houses, neighborhoods and cities. My mother creates gardens and both siblings have planned renovations of their houses down to the trim on the underside of cabinets.

I thought I had escaped this legacy until I got interested in how Dhofaris design kitchens as part of my Foodways project [ Foodways in Southern Oman – Short Essays and Images ]. I realized, while that I am not interested in decorating or remodeling, I love listening to people’s stories about how they live in their houses, what choices they make and why.

I am grateful to my family for all that early training and to the Omanis who have trusted me with their stories, opinions, photos and friendship.

https://www.routledge.com/Houseways-in-Southern-Oman/Risse/p/book/9781032218595

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003270317/houseways-southern-oman-marielle-risse

New book about Al Baleed

(photo by S. B.)

One of the great truths of writing a book is that as soon as you send it to the publisher, you find a text that you would have wanted to include in your discussion. Although my work is on modern, middle-class houses, I have a section on earlier lifeways in Dhofar, specifically about the two important archeological sites: Al Baleed and Sumhuram.  And I have just found this interesting new text on Al Baleed. Of particular note is the Annex which lists early visitors (with citations) and then all the people/ groups who have studied the site.

D’Andrea, Andrea, Roberta Giunta, Alexia Pavan and Rosario Valentini, eds. 2022. The Site of Ẓafār/al-Balīd (Sultanate of Oman) – Archaeological Investigations between Past and Present. Proceedings of the Round Table, Università L’Orientale, June 18, 2021. Centro Interdipartimentale di Servizi di Archeologia (CISA): Napoli.

  • Andrea D’Andrea, THE URBAN SPACE BETWEEN REPORTS AND EXCAVATIONS
  • Roberta Giunta, ẒAFĀR/AL-BALĪD: DATING ISSUES AND MAIN EVIDENCE BETWEEN THE 11TH-14TH CENTURIES
  • Alexia Pavan, A SENTINEL ON THE INDIAN OCEAN: THE CITADEL OF AL-BALĪD (EXCAVATIONS 2016-2020)
  • Rosario Valentini, PHOTOGRAMMETRIC AND TOPOGRAPHIC INVESTIGATIONS AT AL-BALĪD
  • Carlotta Passaro, ATLAS OF THE WALLS: FIRST RESULTS FROM THE STUDY OF THE CITADEL
  • Alessandro Ghidoni, SHIP TIMBER RECYCLING IN AL-BALĪD
  • Agnese Fusaro, THE HISTORY AS TOLD BY THE POTTERY: AN INSIGHT INTO THE LAST OCCUPATION PHASE OF THE CITADEL OF AL-BALĪD
  • Chiara Visconti, CHINESE-STYLE CERAMIC UNEARTHED AT ẒAFĀR/AL-BALĪD: A GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE CORPUS AND A FOCUS ON THE LATEST PERIO
  • Arturo Annucci, THE COINAGE OF ẒAFĀR/AL-BALĪD IN THE MONETARY CONTEXT OF DHOFAR
  • Alexia Pavan, Ali Al Kathiri, THE OBJECTS FROM AL-BALĪD AT THE MUSEUM OF THE FRANKINCENSE LAND, ṢALĀLAH, SULTANATE OF OMAN
  • Amanda Antonelli, DHOFAR CEMETERY AREAS: THE STATE OF RESEARCH AND NEW INVESTIGATION TASKS
  • ANNEX: Visits, archaeological surveys and excavations in Ẓafār/al-Balīd (1834-2019)

Photos of houses in the Salalah area

I am very grateful to Ms. Onaiza Shaikh for these wonderful photos which show a range of design choices in the Salalah area of Dhofar. I would also like to mention that I asked for, and Ms. Shaikh kindly agreed to photograph, only houses that stood on main streets. As these are all private houses, I will not comment except by grouping them by styles and the selection is limited to houses whose owners know the structure will be always in the public eye, i. e. because of their location on heavily-trafficked roads, these houses are seen by hundreds of people every day. (Please note that colored swirls in the front of some of the houses are cars that were blurred out so the license plate does not appear.)

Examples of houses which incorporate older design elements such as load-bearing timbers and a wind tower

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Examples of houses with arched windows

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Examples of houses with Greco-Roman or Mediterranean style elements such as a pedimented portico and tiled roof-overhangs

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Examples of modern-style houses with facades incorporating several types of materials, dark colors, intricate designs and non-arched windows (e.g. narrow, extremely large, curved and/ or square)

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Example of rental house (the complete phone number of the rental company is written on the front, Ms. Shaikh has blurred out the last 4 digits)

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Houseways in Dhofar: Placement of Furniture and Sightlines

I am grateful to Maria Cristina Hidalgo [https://www.mariacristinah.com/ ] for her helpful plans and to my informants who have allowed me to chart their homes.

1) Perspective view of front hallway

The first point is that when one walks through the main door, there is often no furniture in sight. Sometimes there is a high, narrow table near the door to set things on that will be out of reach of children or one might be able to get a glimpse into the salle but, as the perspective below illustrates, most of the furnishings are out of sight.

Model

2) Ground floor plan with furniture

Below is a bird’s eye view of the same house, showing how, as is usual in Dhofari houses, all the furniture is placed against the wall except for the small, moveable tables in the salle and majlis which are put in front of guests (represented here with small squares).

Model

A few notes about the ground floor plan:

  • All the furniture is against the wall, most notable in the kitchen which has a small built-in table.
  • The salle is open to the main hallway but there is also a sliding door in the family salle and a door in kitchen, plus the outside door in the majlis. Thus, there could be four different types of visitors to the house at the same time who would not see each other because each were using a different door: male guests in the majlis, female guests in the salle, relatives in the family salle and a cleaner, repair person or someone bringing supplies such as drinking water or a gas canister into the kitchen.
  • The arch over the hallway at the far end separates the more public area (guest and family salles) from the family-only areas of the kitchen and one of the family suites.
  • The bedroom and maid’s room doors are set at 180 degrees from someone walking in from the front door; there is no way to see in “by chance.” Further, the beds are placed in such as way that they can only be seen if a person walks into the room.
  • There is constant air movement; the house has split ACs (meaning the motor is on the roof) and the kitchen and every bathroom has an exhaust fan which are usually on all the time.
  • There are five family suites on the upper floor, meaning the staircase is both the least used in terms of time (no one sits on the stairs) and most used in that every member of the house will use the stairs several times a day, except for the person living in the downstairs bedroom. For example, a women who does not cook might not enter the kitchen every day and a man might not have a reason to enter the salle for a week at a time.

3) Example of family suite

A door to the hallway which leads to a suite with a bathroom and two rooms is a very common floor plan in Dhofar; sometimes there is an additional store room. When a couple is newly married, one room is a bedroom and the other a sitting room. If they have several children, the suite will be set up as below, with one room for the parents and one for the children. When the children are older, they might be moved into a different suite which has one room with same gender relatives of the same age (siblings, cousins, etc.) and the second room as a study/ plan room. Only in very large houses would one person have a suite to themselves.

Model

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I will be presenting ”Private Lives in Public Spaces: Perceptions of Space-Usage in Southern Oman” on Dec. 2 at the MESA annual meeting

‘Private Lives in Public Spaces: Perceptions of Space-Usage in Southern Oman’ – Dr. M. Risse

photos by: Onaiza Shaikh; plans by: Maria Cristina Hidalgo https://www.mariacristinah.com/

Middle East Studies Association annual meeting

https://mesana.org/annual-meeting/current-meeting

abstract

This presentation discusses issues related to the cultural perceptions of space and privacy on the Arabian Peninsula. The Merriam-Webster definition of privacy is: the quality or state of being apart from company or observation, and it’s the “apart from observation” aspect that I want to focus on because if someone is in public spaces, they aren’t alone (i.e. can’t be “apart from company”) but they can be unobserved.  Based on fifteen years of experience and research in southern Oman, I will focus on how men and women navigate the same or nearby public spaces at the same time. Using examples from shops, grocery stores, universities, restaurants, cafes, airports and hospitals I will discuss who moves where according to cultural rules about position and proximity. For example, an initiative at one bank to have a “women’s only” teller fizzled out (as did a scheme to give women customers pink bank cards), but customers and clerks continue to follow strict, unwritten rules about who stands where. Another example is universities. In some Gulf countries, there are separate campuses for men and women. Omani institutions of higher learning have only one campus yet there are both physical (having two sets of doors for classrooms) and mental (where students choose to sit) barriers to gender-mixing.