Monday, June 26, 2006

There's no such thing as a Saudi

OK, I don't know if I can get the AP stylebook to line up with me on this one, so I'll start with you: Avoid calling the inhabitants of Saudi Arabia "Saudis" -- as in, "Most of the hijackers on 9-11 were Saudi." Instead, say "Saudi Arabian."

Why? Because while the Saud family rules the country, not everyone there is named Saud. Richard Maybury makes a good analogy in his book The Thousand Year War: Imagine a family named Ferguson taking over Canada, renaming the country "Fergusonian Canada," and then convincing the rest of the world to call its inhabitants "Fergusonians." That's basically what the House of Saud pulled off in the Arabian Peninsula in the 1920s and 30s.

Maybury's book comes highly recommended, by the way. Published two years before 9-11, it seems almost prophetic. Agree or disagree with his viewpoint, there's much to be gained; the chapter on guerrilla warfare is alone worth the price.

Trivia aside: The only other country whose name incorporates a family's name is Jordan, where the Hashem family rules -- "The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan."


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