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Huteimi or Hutaym is a name given to several unrelated Red Sea coast-dwelling peoples, originally so by James Raymond Wellsted during his travels in the Arabian Peninsula.[1] They are reported to be descendants of the Ichthyophagi, or "Fish-Eater" peoples as recounted by Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian.


The origin of the name Huteimi is unclear, and several variants and alternate spellings exist, such as Huteim, Hutaym, Hutaim, Huteym, or Hootein. The Naval Intelligence Division's "Handbook of Arabia" mentions the name "Huteim" as "used roughly by the Arabs as a synonym for any base-born, half-settled tribe", and the name is often used alongside the Harb, a similar confederation of tribes in the Hejaz area.[2]

It is unclear whether "Hutaym" refers to the same peoples as "Huteimi", because although they inhabit geographically similar areas, their lifestyles are profoundly different, as the Hutaym life is described by R. Khanam in his Encyclopaedic Ethnography of Middle-East and Central Asia as "raising exceptional breeds of camels, with exceptions being primarily ass nomads". It is possible that they do refer to similar peoples, but in different time periods.


Descriptions of the Huteimi peoples remain scarce, and the name refers to a wide-ranging group of peoples which are generally said to occupy Nubia, Egypt and Arabia around the Red Sea, but information is often incomplete or contradictory.

They are described by Wellsted to be "found on the Arabian and Nubian coasts," and that they are "cowardly in disposition, squalid and misshapen in form, and filthy in their habits". According to various accounts, they are further described as a race of fishermen, found in various parts of the Hejaz, with "large encampments near Leyt to the southward of Jiddah".[3]

The Huteimi were a nomadic people, resembling "the Bedouins of the Desert," according to Wellsted. He mentions the prophet Mohammed, who, after seeking shelter near the shore, was "shocked and offended" by the presence of a dog being served at a Huteimi banquet. They primarily sustained themselves by fishing, although occasionally the peoples used their skill in sailing and knowledge of the cost to gather pearls and sell them at markets.[4]

The nomadic fisherman lifestyle is also evidenced by a mention in "The Land of Midian", by Sir Richard Francis Burton. It is written that "The country belongs to Baliyy ... mixed with Karaizah-Hutaym. The fishermen complained that no fish was to be caught, and the strong tides ... had not broken most of the shells. The usual eight-ribbed turtle appears to be common." It is also written that "The Hutaym claim the lover and hero-poet Antar as one of their despised tribe". [5]

The Huteimi are described by James Wellsted to be "sharpened ... their eyes seated deeply in their head" with pronounced chins. He also observed that the Huteimi's hair was "permitted to grow to some length ... which is a "black to light red color".

The 1894 Encyclopædia Britannica mentions, in its article on Jiddah, that "Harb, Huteym and Zobeid [inhabiting the outskirts of the town] are engaged in camel transport, slave running, and mother of pearl fishery." [6]

The First Encyclopedia of Islam 1913–1936, by E. J. Brills, mentions that the "Hutaim who live scattered in the Hidjaz and Nadjd are not counted among the true Arabs. They are excellent huntsmen; their herds consist of small cattle; they often do smiths' work ... Ostriches are especially shot by the Hutaim and the Sulaib."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buckle, Henry Thomas. "The Miscellaneous and Posthumous Works of Henry Thomas Buckle". Longmans, Green and co., 1872. p. 234.
  2. ^ Great Britain. Naval Intelligence Division. "A handbook of Arabia: Volume I. General, Volume 1". H.M.S.O., 1920.
  3. ^ Wellsted, James Raymond. "Travels in Arabia, Volume 2". J. Murray, 1838. pp. 258–262.
  4. ^ "Pearls and Pearling Life - Edwin Streeter - Farlang". Farlang. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  5. ^ Burton, Sir Richard Francis. "The land of Midian (revisited)". C. K. Paul & Co., 1879. pp. 117–119.
  6. ^ "The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature, Volume 13". Maxwell Sommerville, 1894. p. 702.
  7. ^ Brill, E. J. "The Encyclopedia of Islam. A Dictionary of the Geography, Ethnography and Biography of the Muhammadan Peoples". Luzac & Co., 1913–1938. p. 375.