Arabian Sands

Yesterday was a heavy-duty day. And though today promises to be another mega-working day – a friend has asked me to make siopao, there’s just something about a new book that makes me want to post.

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Yup, that’s me inside the car hurriedly taking a picture of an ancient way of life (Liwa, December 2012)

Well, actually, the truth is I’ve somehow found a way to circumvent the technical problem of how to upload photos from my smartphone. Before, it was so simple: the photos would upload automatically. Then the hubby’s iCloud became full. Then somehow, I could not access the photographs in my smartphone even though the laptop and my smartphone had synced already. Now, I can delete photos once more after uploading them onto Facebook and copying them onto the hard drive. FB also allows mobility – I can get them from the desktop or the laptop. Prior to this, the technicalities associated with accessing them from the desktop and the laptop prevented me from blogging more often.

In any case, here it is, one of the books that has been on my wishlist for the longest time:

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Going to the city during Ramadan is not a pleasant endeavor but when one is able to buy a book, does hunger still matter?

A modern classic already, Arabian Sands is a British traveller’s  account of his journey into the Empty Quarter, that huge expanse of desert bordering Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen and Oman from 1945-50.

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I spent an hour yesterday rifling through its pages after the hubby left at 5:30 am. There are many photographs that one may view online at Oxford University’s Pitt Rivers Museum. But really, I think one needs the maps contained therein to follow Thesiger’s narrative as he talks about the different tribes (there is a tribal map) which he encounters throughout his journey. Though the book may not appeal to everyone (who wants to know how the Bedouin lived for centuries until the 1970s?), it certainly is an eye opener and one cannot help but compare the picture of desert life painted by Thesiger with what one sees today in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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A close-up of the map to show where Abu Dhabi is

Of course the price was what convinced me to buy from Borders. Most recent novels cost somewhere around Dh40-60 – the Buried Giant cost Dh54 – so when I saw a hardbound on sale for Dh60, I grabbed the plastic-encased book.

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My children playing in the sand dunes of Liwa

Meanwhile, I’m off to make siopao and help my daughter bake cookies for the party later on …

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Reading about the Bedouins who travelled with their daggers reminded me of the daggers we’d seen at the 2014 Heritage Festival in Al Wathba. Then, the lady had told me that the daggers had belonged to her family 

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