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Professor Clive Holes FBA

Middle Eastern and African Languages and Literatures
Professor Clive Holes FBA profile picture

About this Fellow

After attending local schools in the West Midlands, Clive Holes went up to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1966 to read Modern Languages, switching to Oriental Studies (Arabic and Turkish) at the end of his first year and taking a first class BA degree in 1969. From 1969 to 1971 he worked as a UNA Volunteer in Bahrain government schools, joining the British Council staff on his return to the UK in 1971. From then until 1983, he served in overseas postings to Kuwait, Algeria, Iraq and Thailand, and completed a PhD in Linguistics at Cambridge in 1981. He was appointed to Lectureship in Arabic and Applied Linguistics at Salford University in 1983, and was then appointed Director of the Language Centre, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, 1985-7, returning to the UK to take up a Lectureship, then a Readership, in Arabic and a Fellowship at Trinity Hall, 1987-96. He was appointed Khalid bin Abdallah Al-Saud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World and a Fellow of Magdalen College in 1997, retiring in 2014. He is now an Emeritus Professorial Fellow of Magdalen College, and the current President of the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL).His research interests range widely over the Arabic language and its history, Arabic dialectology, linguistics and popular literature, especially oral poetry.



Current post

  • Emeritus Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, University of Oxford

Past Appointments

  • Lecturer in Arabic and Applied Linguistics, University of Salford, 1983 - 1985
  • Lecturer, Reader in Arabic, University of Cambridge, 1987 - 1996
  • Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, University of Oxford, 1997
  • Khalid bin 'Abdullah Al-Sa'ud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, University of Oxford, 1997 - 2014
  • University of Salford, University of Salford, 1983 - 1985
  • Emeritus Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, University of Oxford, 2014

British Academy Appointments

  • Member of Council, 2006 - 2008


Gulf Arabic 1990

Colloquial Arabic of the Gulf 1st ed 1984, 2nd revised ed 2010

The Nabati Poetry of the UAE 2011

Language variation and change in a modernising Arab state 1987

Modern Arabic: structures, functions and vaneties 1995, 2nd edn 2004

Dialect, culture and society in Eastern Arabia (vol 1) 2000 (vol 2) 2005

Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society 2009

Other Africa, Asia and the Middle East Fellows

Professor Simon Swain

Culture and history of the Greek world under Rome; History of Medicine in antiquity and the middle ages; the legacy of Greek thought in medieval Islam

Professor Richard Widdess

Musicology of South Asia, including history, theory, analysis and social context of music in North India and Nepal; music and religion in South Asia; analysis of world music; music cognition, performance and meaning in oral traditions

Professor Andrew Gerstle

The cultural and social history of 17th-19th century Japan, with particular reference to Bunraku and Kabuki theatres, popular literature, sexuality and the visual arts

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