Thesiger's Journeys in Arabia - United Arab Emirates Winter 1948-9

2004_130_22009_1-P2004_130_22009_1-PJourney dates: November 1, 1948 - January 27, 1949

In the fall of 1948, Thesiger returned to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. During the previous year's journey, Thesiger had found much support for his Arabian exploration in the ruling Al Nahyan family of Abu Dhabi. In early November, Thesiger returned to Al Muwaiji Fort, in Al Ain Oasis, as a guest of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, then the Ruler's Representative in Al Ain.

On November 14, 1948, after a short period exploring Al Ain, Thesiger departed for a camel journey around Abu Dhabi. At Qua Raudha well Thesiger met his trusted Rashid Bedouin companions Musallim bin Al Kamam, 'Amair bin 'Omar, Salim bin Kabina and Salim bin Ghabaisha, and a new Rashid guide named Sahail bin Tahi. Together the party headed east across the Al Humrah sands, arriving at Liwa Oasis after a week of travel. The party rode slowly through Liwa, weaving through the small settlements and carefully tended palm groves that dot the oasis. Reaching Aradh on November 29th, the party turned northwest, crossing Al Dhafra sands to Baynunah. At Raqaib the party turned east, returning through the Baynunah and Al Khatam sands, ending back at Al Ain on December 14, 1948.

On their return, Wilfred Thesiger and his Rashid companions joined Sheikh Zayed's hawking party for a month of hunting hare and MacQueen's Bustard in the sands surrounding Al Ain. Thesiger's images of this period illustrate his deep interest in falcon hunting and his admiration for the skilled way Arabian falconers trained and handled their birds.

Named Individuals: 'Amair bin 'Omar, Sahail bin Tahi, Muhammad bin Fadil, Raikan bin Salih?, Salim bin Ghabaisha, Salim bin Kabina, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Wilfred Patrick Thesiger

Locations: Al Ain City, Al Muwaiji Fort, Al Khatam Sands, Al Humrah, Liwa, Radum, Al Batin, Al Dhafra, Baynunah, Jebel Hafeet [Jabal Hafit], Buraimi.

Represented Cultural Groups: Al Bu Shams, Bani Yas, Awamir Bedouin, Duru Bedouin, Habab Bedouin, Manasir Bedouin, Rashid Bedouin.


Wilfred Thesiger, 1949. 'Oman 1948-49', Personal Diary (Collection of Eton College Library).

Wilfred Thesiger, 1950. 'Desert Borderlands of Oman', The Geographical Journal, Vol. 116, No. 4/6.

Wilfred Thesiger, 1960. Arabian Sands, Longmans, Green and Co Ltd: London.