Mai Yamani

Mai Yamani (Arabic: مي يماني; born 6 Sept 1956) is an independent scholar, author and anthropologist.

Mai Yamani
Born6 Sept 1956
Cairo, Egypt
OccupationAnthropologist, Scholar, Author
EducationBryn Mawr College
Somerville College, Oxford
Notable worksVisiting scholar at Carnegie Middle East Centre, Beirut, 2008-2009.

Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Washington DC, 2008.

Research Fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, 1997-2007

Early life

Yamani was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1956 to an Iraqi mother from Mosul and a Saudi Arabian father from Mecca. Her father is Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, who received international attention as Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum Affairs during the 1973 oil embargo. Her paternal grandfathers came from Yemen, hence the surname Yamani ("from Yemen"). Her early education included schooling in Baghdad, Iraq and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. She attended secondary school at the renowned Château Mont-Choisi in Lausanne, Switzerland from 1967-1975. She received her B.A. Degree summa cum laude (with highest honors) from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania; and subsequently attended Somerville College, University of Oxford, where she was the first Saudi Arabian woman to obtain a M.St. and a D.Phil. from Oxford, in Social Anthropology.


She started her career as a university lecturer in Saudi Arabia, and became a scholar at leading international think tanks in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. She has been a research fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London; a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC; and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. She speaks fluent Arabic, English, French and Spanish, and has a working knowledge of Persian, Hebrew and Italian.


  • Changed Identities: The Challenge of the New Generation in Saudi Arabia. Royal Institute of International Affairs. 2000. ISBN 978-1-86203-088-6. (Arabic: هويات متغيرة : تحديات الجيل الجديد في السعودية )
  • Cradle of Islam: The Hijaz and a Quest for Arabian Identity. I.B.Tauris. 21 August 2009. ISBN 978-0-85773-110-4.


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