Secondly, the demographic heartland of the Mahri tribes, roughly coterminous with the current Yemeni Governorate of al-Mahra, is exclusively referred to as “al-Mahra” in historical sources. The Mahra may refer to specific locations or topographical features within their territory in the Mahri language, but they reserve the Arabic label al-Mahra for the region of eastern Yemen in which their language is (or was, until the last decade or so) the primary language. This was true for the politically sovereign ʿAfrārī Sultanate of Qishn and Soqōṭrā, which even among the local population bore the shorthand title in Arabic: “the Sultanate of al-Mahra” (sulṭānat al-Mahra). Indeed, one rarely hears the collective term for Mahri speakers in the Mahri language; traditionally, lineage, family, or regional origin were more relevant for personal or tribal identification than belonging to the internally segmented population of Mahri speakers.
I have therefore chosen to rely on the Arabic nomenclature for the Mahri language (mahrī) and its speakers (the collective denominal adjective al-Mahra) due to the fact that these terms possess historical validity and official status and are used widely by the Mahra themselves.