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Hola (ethnic group)

Regions with significant populations
Lari language, Gulf Arabic
Sunni Islam, with a small Shia minority[1]
Related ethnic groups
Persians, Afro-Persians

Houla (Persian: هوله‎, sing. Houli هولي) is a term used in some Persian Gulf littoral countries to describe peoples of varying ancestries and Sunni background originating from southern Iran, with a significant amount of these peoples being the descendants of Persians and Afro-Persians[2] who migrated to the Arab states of the Persian Gulf during the 19th century. One does not have to profess the Sunni faith to be considered Houli, however, he or she must be of Sunni southern Iranian background as in their ancestors who migrated to the Arab states of the Persian Gulf must have been members of the Sunni sect. A similar criteria applies to the Ajam whom conversion to Sunni Islam is common among; Shia southern Iranian background is required to be classified as Ajami. A Sunni of Shia southern Iranian background will still be considered "Ajami".


  • Terminology 1
  • Migration to the Arab Peninsula 2
  • Culture and Traditions 3
  • Notable People 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Houla (in Arabic: هوله), is a plural Arabic term for Houli (in Arabic: هولي), which itself is a corruption of the singular Persian term Kouli (in Persian: کولی) refers to a group of wandering Sunni non-Arabs who migrated to the Arabian peninsula, from the Iranian plateau and Indian subcontinent, during the 19th and 20th centuries. It can refer to people of multiple origins, including Iranian, Pakistani and Indian. The term should not be confused with non-Gypsy immigrants of non-Arab origins, who are usually referred to as Ajams.

Migration to the Arab Peninsula

The most recent influx of the Hola to the now known as GCC countries is during the 1960s. Iran under the Shah was strict regarding different ethnic groups and maintained censuses on them. Most of the Hola families were exiled from various ports and villages of Iran. One inviting country was Bahrain, which had a need for more Sunni Muslims as the country was mainly Shia and was ruled by a Sunni family that came from Saudi Arabia. It was also a country that had a fairly large Hola community that existed on the island beforehand. Though there was a difference between the variety of people that had come during different times, the term “Hola” began to be used generally for all Sunni Muslims that had connections with Iran, especially after the Iranian Revolution, which brought about anti-Shia tensions to the GCC nation states, uniting those that were Sunni. You will mainly hear this term used in Bahrain, though Oman and the UAE has a large number of these families living among them. The Hola had a degree of self-rule with a number of emirates (Arabic: see Arabic article) in the south of Iran until the 20th century. Following the ascent of the Pahlavi Dynasty, there was a diminution or abolition of the local ruling families' privileges as elsewhere in Iran.

Culture and Traditions

Most of the Huwala families lived in the urban centres of the Persian Gulf states and established themselves as trading business families, making use of their networks across the Persian Gulf. In the Bahraini city of Manama, many settled in the neighbourhood of Awadhiya. They speak a dialect of Persian sometimes referred to as Khodmoni. However today, many Huwala families have become "Arabized" such that relatively few of them speak Persian, or even retain a separate identity.

Notable People

See also


  1. ^ Gerashi family members converted to Shia Islam and some members of the Faqihi family are Shia
  2. ^

External links

  • Hola DNA Project
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