Housing and social change in Saudi Arabia : a community study of Hwylan village in Al Qassim region
This study examines housing, family and community in Hwylan, a small village on the outskirts of Buraidah, a prosperous city in Al Qassim region of Saudi Arabia. The wealth brought to the country by oil exploitation has made possible extensive development and modernisation which are often thought to be a challenge to the traditional way of life: family composition, relationships and social values. These issues are explored in detail in a small scale community study conducted through direct observations, interviews, and a questionnaire based survey. The main part of the thesis dwells on the related issues of family, kinship and housing. It explores the extent to which traditional family life has been maintained and the extent to which change has been resisted or accepted. Particular attention is paid to the different types of house currently occupied by the village population. The present housing stock is largely new with very few occupied houses built more than 10 to 15 years ago. The study assesses the influence of land tenure, property acquisition and interest free government loans on housing and the traditional value system. The central findings of the study reveal that striking changes in prosperity and in house types and domestic technology have not been accompanied by fundamental changes in the value system of the community. The general conclusion drawn is that the local culture remains strong and largely resistant to outside influences despite the village's proximity to the city of Buraidah.