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Charity in Saudi Arabia: Civil Society under Authoritarianism

Book presentation by Nora Derbal (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Discussants: Elad Giladi (ZMO), Inken Wiese (Universität Konstanz) 

Moderation: Ulrike Freitag (ZMO Director) 

In this innovative study of everyday charity practices in Jeddah, Nora Derbal employs a 'bottom-up' approach to challenge dominant narratives about state-society relations in Saudi Arabia. Exploring charity organizations in Jeddah, this book both offers a rich ethnography of associational life and counters Riyadh-centric studies which focus on oil, the royal family, and the religious establishment. It closely follows those who work on the ground to provide charity to the local poor and needy, documenting their achievements, struggles and daily negotiations. The lens of charity offers rare insights into the religiosity of ordinary Saudis, showing that Islam offers Saudi activists a language, a moral frame, and a worldly guide to confronting inequality. With a view to the many forms of local community activism in Saudi Arabia, this book examines perspectives that are too often ignored or neglected, opening new theoretical debates about civil society and civic activism in the Gulf.

Dr. Nora Derbal is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has studied Islamic Studies and History at Oxford University, Freie Universität Berlin and King Abd al-Aziz University in Jeddah, and earned a PhD in Islamic Studies from Freie Universität in 2017. Before joining the Hebrew University, she held a postdoc at the American University in Cairo (AUC 2018-2020) and worked as a research assistant at the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB 2015-2016).

Dr. Elad Giladi is a historian, specializing in the social and cultural history of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Egypt. He holds a PhD in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Currently, Dr. Giladi is a Minerva Stiftung Postdoctoral Fellow at ZMO. Starting in October 2023, he will join the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Haifa University as assistant professor/ lecturer.

Inken Wiese studied Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, Cairo University and Harvard University. In her PhD project at Konstanz University, she focuses on recent approaches of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to international development cooperation. She lived and worked in various Gulf countries also as a long-term consultant to the German GIZ.

To the book: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/charity-in-saudi-arabia/72E41BE24D7D8ACA80EDEBDE1084938F

The event will be held in a hybrid format. Please register here to participate via Zoom. For participation on site at ZMO, no registration is required.

This event is part of the lecture series:
Book Presentation Series 2022
New Releases at ZMO