The Times Online has an interesting article about Osama bin Laden's ancestry. I found it interesting not only because of how many descendants his father had, but also because it gives a glimpse into the lifestyles of a culture that is foreign to me.
Mohammed bin Laden, Osama’s father and the family patriarch, has about 600 descendants. He was an illiterate bricklayer from Yemen who emigrated to Saudi Arabia, won favor with the royal family and was rewarded with vast and lucrative contracts to renovate the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, build highways and construct mosques. The bin Ladens prospered mightily and were dubbed the Rockefellers of the Middle East.
When he was not making money, Mohammed multiplied. He had as many as 22 wives, and by the time of his death in 1967, he had fathered 54 children — give or take a few.
Osama was the 17th of those children by Mohammed’s tenth wife, but to complicate matters his parents divorced soon after he was born and his mother had four more children by another husband.
When it comes to reproduction, Osama is a chip off the old block. He married his first wife, Najwa Ghanem, when he was 17 and had 11 children by her. He is now thought to have fathered somewhere between 19 and 24 children by five wives. He had to divorce Najwa because the Koran permits a maximum of four. His last wife is younger than his five oldest children.
Here is a family that needs a computer program just to keep track of who is in the family!
You can read more at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6965715.ece.