Take a look around you,” says Abdulhadi Saleh al-Murri, declining a fourth pouring of Arab coffee with a shake of the thimble-sized cup. “As well as our host, at least 10 of the guests in this majlis are notable trackers. All of them are from the Murrah tribe. Half of them work with me in Riyadh.”
Abdulhadi Saleh is among more than a dozen relatives and friends who have arrived over the course of the morning at the home of Shaykh Jaber Mohammed al-Amrah al-Murri. Jaber Mohammed works not with Abdulhadi Saleh in Riyadh but as general manager of some 250 rangers employed by Saudi Arabia’s National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD). Located on the outskirts of the small town of Haradh in central Saudi Arabia, Jaber Mohammed’s modern one-story home is set like a sentinel overlooking the northern fringe of the Rub’ al-Khali, the Empty Quarter. New arrivals work their way around the assembly, greeting each in turn according to Murrah tradition: a single kiss on the nose or forehead and, for a foreign guest, a warm, firm handshake. In every encounter, eye contact is resolute.