So little social science had been conducted in the central desert of Oman that, as late as 1980, one writer had only this to say about the Harasiis: "Information about the way of life here and about the tribe of the Harasiis which inhabits the area is very limited, although it is thought that the small nomadic groups pursue camel herding exclusively and engage in periodic movements . . . but little is known about these people" (Scholz and Cordes 1980:11). In 1981 I began a 24-month anthropological study in the region, the government of Oman having instructed me to examine the felt needs and problems of that population and to design and implement practical social programs to meet those needs. The government desired to raise the standard of living of the population "without undermining its traditional way of life" (Chatty 1984:2) or forcing it to settle and join the agricultural communities of north and south Oman. The regime wanted to extend the same basic services to the pastoral populations of its central desert that it had developed in most of the rural regions since the accession of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur in 1971. The government did not entertain the expedient of settling these pastoral nomads, nor, for that matter, the idea of developing their pastoral marketing system, but it built a tribal center at Haima—a complex of buildings with a police station, a reverse osmosis water plant, a mosque, and a petrol station—and appointed a wali 2 as its representative to run it.