Lawatis

Here it is! The 2nd edition to my k’billa series

Lawatis are a prominent kbilla, tribe, held in much esteem within the gulf, especially in the Muscat area. Many Lawati families of successful merchants of the past are now involved in large multi-faceted corporations participating in the development of the region.

There are estimated to be eighty thousand Lawatiyya dispersed over the gulf. In the predominantly Ibadhi Sunni arena of Oman, they make up the majority of the local Shia population. It is believed the Lawatis traveled to Oman many years ago from ancient Hyderabad or even Iran, appearing in Oman as early as the 1600s. There is even a mention of the legendary Lawati surname in British records as early as the 1700s. The Lawati language is still spoken today, however for Omani Lawati families, daily language remains the gulf Arabic spoken in Oman.

Through the 1700s and later, Lawatiyya quickly developed an impressive trade industry in the local Matrah port, selling everything from incense to jewelry. They even began to occupy their own quarter of the harbor called Sur al-Lawatiyya (sur meaning enclosure), which was constructed into beautiful aqua tiled town houses that have been preserved to this day. Many wealthy Lawati families have moved out to suburban areas, but the mosque in Matrah remains the principle Shia mosque for Oman. In the past, religious leaders of the mosque have been recruited from Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain.

It is notable that the first woman ambassador from Oman was Khadijah bint Hassan al-Lawati, a Lawati woman appointed to the Netherlands in 1999.

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