Thesiger's Journeys in Arabia - Salalah, Oman to Wadi Hadhramawt, Yemen 1946

2004_130_3004_1-O2004_130_3004_1-OJourney dates: January 9 – March 16, 1946

On January 14, 1946, Wilfred Thesiger set off from the port city of Salalah with a mixed company of Bayt Kathir and Rashid Bedouin, heading for the Wadi Hadhramawt. In an expedition funded by the British Middle East Anti-Locust Unit (MEALU), Thesiger had been tasked with finding locust populations and breeding groundings in Southern Arabia, and identifying whether these grounds were the sources of locust outbreaks that had been plaguing the Middle East and East Africa.

Realizing that it was far too hot for another journey into the Empty Quarter, Thesiger 'decided to travel westwards to the Hadhramawt along the southern edge of the Sands, where I would be able to find out if floods very reached these sands from the high Mahra mountains along the coast' (Arabian Sands, p.53).

Leaving Salalah, the party travelled by camel across the Jabal Qara mountain range to the wells of 'Ayun, Mudayy, and Habarut. From Habarut the party headed north to Sanaw, then southwest to Thamud and Huliyah, arriving in Wadi Hadhramawt at the end of February 1946. After finishing this journey, Thesiger continued travelling throughout the Wadi Hadhramawt, visiting small rural settlements and the cities of Shibam, Seiyun, and Tarim, before continuing on to the Yemeni coast, where he remained until mid March 1946.

During this expedition, Thesiger met Salim bin Kabina, a teenage boy from the Bayt Imani lineage of Rashid Bedouin, who would later become Thesiger's inseparable companion on all his future Arabian travels.

Locations: Ayun, Mudayy, Habarut, Sanaw, Bir Thamud, Al Maghar, Huliyah (wells), Al-Saum, Qasam, Shibam, Seiyun, Tarim, Raidha, Mashhad, Al Furt, Ash Shihr, Al Mukalla.

Named Individuals: Sultan bin Ahmad, Salim bin Kabina, Said bin Musallim, Neshran bin Sultan, Musallim bin Al Kamam Munzuk [Murzuk]; Erzek; Merzik, Muhammad bin Kalut, Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, Salim bin Amr, Abdullah bin Misad, Muhammad bin Kalut, Mohammed bin Ibrahim Az Saqa, Awad bin Khazai, Ahmed bin Ali.

Represented Cultural Groups: Qara Region tribes (Arabian), Nahad (Arabian? Tribe), Bayt Kathir Bedouin, Rashid Bedouin, Mahra Bedouin, 'Ifaar Bedioun, Hamum Bedouin, Manahil Bedouin.


Wilfred Thesiger, 1946. 'Rub' al Khali 1945-46', Personal Diary (Collection of Eton College Library).

Wilfred Thesiger, 1946. 'A New Journey in Southern Arabia', The Geographical Journal, Vol. 108, No. 4/6.

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