Arabian Sands, A Book Review
Travel tales across the Empty Quarter of Arabia during the dangerous times of the 1940s with Engilsh explorer Wilfred Thesiger. A powerful sketch of the man and the Arab Bedouin who were his guides and friend in a hostile physical and social environment. More
From the review:
by Wilfred Thesiger
Arabian Sands. Wilfred Thesiger. Penguin Books. 1964. Longmans, Green. 1959
His first name is so English. Wilfred. The name of Saxon saints and kings in Northumbria over a millennium ago. Never in my life would I have met such a man. And even if I had met him in some pub in Wales or some lodge in Scotland, never would I have managed to engage him in conversation to the extent that he would tell me about his travels to The Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia in the late 40’s. This man was as alien to me as the land to which he travelled. I am glad he wrote this book.
The Imam of Oman did not want Thesiger to come. The Arabs fought the arrival of the Christians, the oil seekers. Wilfred Thesiger was a threat to the Arabs and the Bedu whom he loved, for he made maps which would open up their land. Thesiger wrote:
“While I was with the Arabs, I wished only to live as they lived, and now that I have left them, I would gladly think that nothing in their lives was altered by my coming. Regretfully, however, I realized that the maps I made helped others, with more material aims, to visit and corrupt a people whose spirit once lit the desert like a flame.”