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Sultan Alali

Research project title

The Effects of Residential Segregation, Social Attitude, and Sense of Belonging on Dialect Contact in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Dr Daniel Duncan and Dr Heike Pichler 

Contact details


Research interests

  • Arabic sociolinguistics
  • language attitude
  • contact induced change
  • language and identity
  • language and gender
  • language and urbanisation
  • language and space
The Island Mosque in Saudi Arabia

Brief outline of research project

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is a city where Saudis of both Bedouin and non-Bedouin social groups co-exist. Given that they are theoretically in daily contact, a question that naturally arises is whether the marked linguistic features of both social groups tend to weaken or level out altogether.  My study aims to analyse the speech of both Bedouin and non-Bedouin speakers in order to investigate the effects of residential segregation, social attitude, and both groups’ sense of belonging on the outcome of dialect contact in Jeddah. It also aims to analyse three levels of linguistic variables to investigate whether both social groups are adopting certain levels of linguistic structure, and whether they do so equally among three levels.

The demographic setting in Jeddah presents a linguistic situation where the neighbourhoods are somewhat segregated.  Jeddah is occupied by Saudis who come from both tribal and non-tribal descents. Furthermore, both social groups identify with the city differently.  Being a Bedouin in Saudi Arabia is considered favourably since Bedouin people consider themselves to be the original constituents of the Arabian Peninsula (Albalawi 2015).  Since being a Bedouin is an integral part of the Saudi Bedouin identity, can it be argued that language use is the result of the both groups’ constructing their own separate identity to distance themselves from each other?

Academic background

  • MA Linguistics, Wayne State University
  • BA English Language and Linguistics, King Abdulaziz University