Maryam bint Omar

The slave journey of a woman from Abyssinia, across the Arabian Peninsula, to the Persian Gulf.

Maryam Daughter of Omar took a slightly different path, though she too traveled across the Arabian Peninsula as can be seen in Figure 2. She was (1) born in Selali Fajjah, Abyssinia in around 1910 and (2) kidnapped from there by a slave trader named Musa. Musa then (3) brought her to Midi Village on the coast of Yemen where she was then (4) sold to Abdur Rahman of Qatar. Via land route, Abdur Rahman (5) transported Maryam to his native land of Qatar and then (6) via boat to Dubai. Maryam’s occupation seems unclear from her statement, but it does seem clear that she was not enslaved for long (less than a year). Citing her “forced and illegitimate enslavement,” Maryam (7) petition and was granted manumission in Sharjah, UAE on November 16th, 1925. Maryam’s journey is interesting for many reasons, but perhaps more so because she provides us with a rare insight to the experiences of female slaves in the Arab world. She, like many of the female slaves I came across, does not state her occupation. She does, however, like many other female slaves, request that she not be returned to her native land, because she is afraid that she will be re-enslaved. This request is interesting, because male slaves do not seem to make the same request despite facing similar risks. One explanation for this, and some other manumission statements seem to allude to this, is that the communities and families of these female slaves are reluctant to accept former female slaves back into their communities nor grant them protection due to their former slave status. Although we do not have much evidence to demonstrate that this is the case, it is definitely something I would like to further explore. You can explore Maryam’s slave journey closer below or here.