North African Arabs

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North African Arabs (Arabic:عرب شمال أفريقيا "Arabi shamal Ifriqiya") or "Maghrebian Arabs" (Arabic:العرب المغاربي "Arabi Maghrebi") is a term to denote an inhabitant of the North African Maghreb who is of Arab origin and whose native language is a dialect of Arabic and who also has an Arab ethnic identity. The North African Arab tribe groups came as a result of the Arab conquest of North Africa and the spreading of Islam to Africa. Examples of these Arab tribes that migrated into North Africa in the 11th century and were a major factor in the linguistic, cultural and ethnic Arabization of the Maghreb are Banu Hilal,[1][2] Banu Sulaym and also Beni Hassan. The offsprings of these intermarriages created the North African Arab tribal groups who speak Arabic as a first language and have an Arab ethnic identity and moreover are representing nowadays the majority of the population in the countries in North Africa, which include Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt and Mauritania.



The Shasu were a Semitic-speaking group of nomads in the Levant from the late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age or Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. They were organized in clans under a tribal chieftain, and were described as brigands active from the Jezreel Valley to Ashkelon and the Sinai.[3] The Bedouins made their living by farming (camels, cows and sheeps), hunting (gazelles and oryxes) and arid and only little fertile soil cultivation. When the central power was strong in Egypt, the Bedouins cut down only for trading. But as soon as the power was weakened, they attacked their richer neighbour. They were traditional enemies of Egypt, who didn't hesitate to offer their guide services to other armies, which fought with Egypt. The Bedouins guided the soldieries of Assyrian ruler Esarhaddon into the Nile delta in the 7th century BC and they even gave him camels needed for transport of water.[4]

The Bedouins had trimmed beards or beards clipped into a tip. They wore long habits with geometric motifs embroideries. Their women wore dresses in the length of half calf and with one bare shoulder. The clothes were white decorated with red figures and coloured strips. Footwear they made of very fine leather dyed red. They were lightskinned, or yellow (asian) called by the ancient Egyptians.[5][6]

The earliest known reference to the Shasu is in a 15th-century BCE list of peoples in Transjordan. It is used in a list of enemies inscribed on column bases at the temple of Soleb built by Amenhotep III. Copied later by either Seti I or Ramesses II at Amarah-West, the list mentions six groups of Shasu: the Shasu of S'rr, the Shasu of Rbn, the Shasu of Sm't, the Shasu of Wrbr, the Shasu of Yhw, and the Shasu of Pysps. The Libyans and the Nubians were also in the list of enemies.[7][8]

Arabian jewelry of North-Africa

Morocco In Morocco, the women are noted for wearing many jewelry around their neck, arms, head and ears. Preferably, the jewelry is made from pure gold. This also shows the economic status of the family. The jewelry are decorated with many different jewels like the Ruby (cherry red), Olivine (olive green), Andalucian stone (yellow/brown), pearls and Diamonds. The olive green Olivine and the pearls are traditionally used the most is North-African Arabian jewelry. The olivin represents beauty in women. The traditional colour of the Arabian goddes is dark green aswell. The Pearls used in the jewelry represent richness and fortune.

Moroccan Arabian Bridalwear Depending on the economic status of the family, the bride wears more or less jewelry. Different regions in Morocco have different traditional jewelry. The region of Tanger-Tetouan adds many pearls into their traditional accesoires, and the region of Fes adds many pheridot jewels and gold to the traditional outfit. In the sahara, golden pieces and coloured beads are added to the outfit. People who can't afford the expensive jewelry simply rent the jewelry.

The headdresses are different per region. The Northern region (Tanger-Tetouan) of Morocco use a stripped fabric and a glittery fabric for the bride to put over her head first. Above the two fabrics, a richly decorated headpiece in either silver or gold (depending on the outfit) is added to the fabrics. These headdressed can be decorated with jewels or not. In the Central region (Fes-Meknes) a big richly decorated dark green and golden fabric is put on the head. A large golden crown decorated with dark green pheridot jewels is combined with pearls hanging down her face. In the Southern region (Western- Sahara) the women wear a headpiece decorated with yellowish golden beads and other coloured beads depending on the tribe. They wear black pieces of fabric on their head aswell. The Eastern region has the type of traditional clothing as West-Algeria. Because these people are of the same tribes and ethnic groupes, they share many traditions with each other.

Arabian tribes of North-Africa

Through out the centuries, many Arabian tribes have settled in the Maghreb, or new tribes were created. The tribal system is upheld mainly in the countryside of North Africa. Still, many people originally belong to a tribe which bonds the people culturally and religiously. In the different countries in North Africa exist the following tribes.


  • Idrissid tribe:
  • Alaoui tribe:
  • Hassanid tribe:
  • Azwafit tribe: Azwafit is a tribe of bedouin(nomad) Arabian origin, they are part of the great Tekna confederation. Azwafit is a tribe which was accustomed to escort and protect caravans against the payment of "Ztata" or "Zfata", whence the name of Azwafit. Because they became part of a bigger berberian tribe, the arab subtribes are partially berberised and speak berber today.The writer La chapelle noted that Azwafits counted the following 5 fractions: Ait Ahmed Ou Ali, Ahl Hayin, Mhamd Ait Ait El Khennous, Ait Messaoud Ait Boukko and Ida Ou Louggan.[9]
  • Ahl Rachida: Ahl Rechida is an Arabian tribe, also called Ouled Sidi Yaakoub. The tribe is also of Chourfa origin, which means they are descendant of the islamic prophet. This tribe enjoyed great influence in the region when it comes to culture, art, culinary etc.

According to writings Ahl Rechida down from Beni Rached, originating in Algeria Mazouna; after a period marked by political unrest, they entered the service of Marinids (XIII century) for permission to settle here in Morocco.[10]

  • Abda tribe: Abda is an Arabian tribe, its origin dates back to the tribe Beni Maqil, arrived in the region at the end of the Merinid era. Eugene Aubin wrote: "The Abda are a powerful tribe, consisting of thirty-thousand cind lights, Arab purment race, they occupy a fertile territory, rich in horses and cattle. It is one of five quasi-Makhzen tribes of Morocco." It consist of three fractions: Bhatra, Rabiaa, Ouled Amer.[11]
  • Beni Ahsen tribe: The Beni Ahsen is an Arabian Morrocan tribe which is part of to Beni Maqil tribe. The tribe settled in Morocco. Around the 16th centurie, they moved to the Missour and Almis area. In the 17th century, they advanced towards the Northwest of the Sefrou region, in order to reach the Mamora forest and the plain of the Gharb. In the 18th centurie they were pushed more westwards by the Zemmour tribe, which moved up from the south. Today they are located in the region of Rabat and the Atlantic ocean.[12]

Notable North-African Arabs

Arabian governors:

Arabian conquerers:

Arabian rulers:

Arabian history writers:

Arabian musicians: Morocco



See also


  1. Weiss, Bernard G. and Green, Arnold H.(1987) A Survey of Arab History American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, p. 129, ISBN 977-424-180-0
  2. Ballais, Jean-Louis (2000) "Chapter 7: Conquests and land degradation in the eastern Maghreb" p. 133
  3. Miller (2012), p. 94
  4. Redford, Donald B. (1992). Egypt, Canaan and Israel In Ancient Times. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  5. Astour, Michael C. (1979). "Yahweh in Egyptian Topographic Lists." In Festschrift Elmar Edel, eds. M. Gorg & E. Pusch, Bamberg.
  6. Dever, William G. (1997). "Archaeology and the Emergence of Early Israel" . In John R. Bartlett (Ed.), Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation, pp. 20–50. Routledge.
  7. Sivertsen (2009), p. 118.
  8. Hasel (1998), p. 219
  9. Azwafit. Historical dictionary of the bedouins. Muhammad Suwaed. 2015
  10. Historical dictionary of the bedouins. Muhammad Suwaed. 2015
  11. Historical dictionary of the bedouins. Muhammad Suwaed. 2015
  12. Historical dictionary of the bedouins. Muhammad Suwaed. 2015

ar:العرب والبربر