Ahmad al-Qalqashandi who died in 1418 stated that AlMutair tribe belongs to Ghatafan who are descendants of Ishmael son of Abraham (the father of Arabs). John Gordon Lorimer (1870–1914), an official of the Indian Civil Service and other historians of Mutayr noted that the main branches of Mutayr today are Banu Abdullah, Al-'Olwa (also spelled 'Llwah), and Braih.
Mutayr's original homelands were the highlands of northern Hejaz near Medina and Najd. At some point in the 17th century, however, the tribe began a large-scale migration eastwards into northern Nejd, displacing many other bedouin tribes in the area, such as Harb and 'Anizzah who were forced to move northwards after. By the 20th century, Mutayr's tribal lands extended from the highlands east of Medina, through the region of Al-Qasim, to the borders of Kuwait. A rivalry developed between Mutayr and Harb, who inhabited roughly the same areas as Mutayr, as well as with 'Utaybah, who had just moved into northern Nejd from Hejaz.
Because Mutayr were the dominant nomadic tribe of Al-Qaseem, which was the main bone of contention between the clans of Al Saud and Al Rashid vying for control of Nejd in the early 20th century, Mutayr came to play an important role in the history of Arabia during that era. Mutayr, then, was led by Faisal Al-Dewish, who frequently changed sides in the conflict between the two Nejdi leaders. In 1912, the ruler of Riyadh, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud undertook to settle the nomads of his realm in newly created villages (hijras), where the bedouins were to be indoctrinated into a puritanical form of Islam and become warriors for Ibn Saud's cause. These new forces were known as the Ikhwan Mn ta'allah ("Brotherhood"), and Faisal Al-Dewish had led the Ikhwan movement enthusiastically, providing Ibn Saud with crucial military support. The most important Mutayri settlement was al-Artawiyya, at the northern edge of the Dahna desert.
In 1920 Al-Dewish led an attack by the Ikhwan of mutayr on Kuwait at al-Jahra, and were compelled to withdraw once and for all under British pressure. Later, a Mutayri contingent, led by Al-Dewish, joined with other sections of the Ikhwan in the conquest of the Hejaz on behalf of Ibn Saud in 1924. Thereafter, a number of Ikhwan leaders from different tribes, led by Al-Dewish, led a rebellion against Ibn Saud. The Ikhwan sought to take over the newly conquered provinces for themselves and claimed that Ibn Saud had abandoned the true faith by refraining from attacking the European-ruled territories of Iraq and Syria. Ibn Saud, however, defeated the rebels at the Battle of Sabilla in northeastern Nejd, and Al-Dewish sought with the British in Iraq. The British, however, handed him over to Ibn Saud. Al-Dewish was put in prison, and died not long afterwards.
The tribe has historically been mostly bedouin, with only a few representatives among the settled families of Nejd at the turn of the 20th century. Today, however, nearly all members of the tribe are settled in the cities and towns of Saudi Arabia, making up to 400 villages across the country and especially Riyadh, Medina and central region of the country. A large section of the tribe also settled in Kuwait. Members of the Mutayr tribe are known for their bravery in battle.
- Qalqashandī, Aḥmad. (1959). Nihāyat al-arab fī ansāb al-ʻArab; dictionary of Arab geneology [sic!] . Cairo, U.A.R., Arabian Society for Printing, Distributing and Pub. OCLC: 27985326
- Lorimer, John Gordon. (1970). Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf: 'Oman, and Central Arabia, Volume 2, Part 2. Superintendent Government Printing. pp 1286- 1289.
- al- Muṭayrī , Abd al-‘Azīz ibn Sa‘d. (2005). Qabīlat Muṭayr, tārīkhuhā – ansābuhā – usaruhā al-mutaḥaḍḍirah – a‘lāmuhā – shu‘arā’uhā – khayluhā wa-ibiluhā. Bayrūt : al-Dār al-‘Arabīyah lil-Mawsū‘āt