Wilfred Thesiger, repulsed by what he saw as the softness and rigidity of Western life – ‘the machines, the calling cards, the meticulously aligned streets’ – spent years exploring in and around the vast, waterless desert that is the ‘Empty Quarter’ of Arabia.
Travelling amongst the Bedu people, he experienced their everyday challenges of hunger and thirst, the trials of long marches beneath the relentless sun, the bitterly cold nights and the constant danger of death if it was discovered he was a Christian ‘infidel’. He was the first European to visit most of the region, and just before he left the area the process that would change it forever had begun – the discovery of oil.
This edition contains an introduction by Rory Stewart discussing the dangers of Thesiger’s travels, his unconventional personality and his insights into the Bedouin way of life.
In the Empty Quarter
As a young reporter in the 1970s I travelled in what the Romans called Arabia Felix – through the Gulf sheikhdoms and emirates, into Muscat and down to the southern tip of the peninsula. I saw...Read more