Thesiger's Journeys in Arabia - Hejaz, Saudi Arabia, 1946

2004_130_3361_1-O2004_130_3361_1-OJourney dates: March 21 - June 25, 1946

After six months of travel in Oman and Yemen, Wilfred Thesiger flew to Saudi Arabia in March 1946 to continue his research on locust outbreak centres for the British Middle East Anti Locust Unit (MEALU). Arriving at Jeddah on March 21, 1946, Thesiger organized a small support team and set off for a 950 mile journey through the 'Asir, Tihamah and Hejaz regions.

Accompanied by Mabarak, a young guide of the Bani Sharfa tribe, a government guard, and two young camel attendants named Abdullah and Bil Ghaith, Thesiger and his small party started out near the town of Al Qunfidhah in Makkah Province. From Al Qunfidhah the party travelled west to the foot of the Hejaz Mountains. They then followed the foothills south to the town of Thurayban and the weekly market of Suq ath Thulutha. Continuing on to the Wadi Hali, the party travelled between local villages and spent a week at Baydayn village witnessing local circumcision celebrations. Later the party crossed over the Hejaz Mountains at 'Aqabat ash Sha'ar and continued on to Abha. After a short sojourn in Abha, the party started an excursion through the interior Dhahran region, travelling through the Tamniyah Mountains, visiting the towns of Dhahran, Jallat al Mawt, and Harub. After Sabya the party turned north, travelling through the Wadi Baysh to visit the market town of Umm al Khashab. Continuing to Abha, the party followed the Hejaz plateau north to Jabal Mana' and Suq al Sabt. At the village of An Namas, the party was invited to a ritual circumcision celebration, where Thesiger took a series of remarkable images of the village dances. The party reached their final destination of At Taif on June 24, 1946.

Named Individuals: Mabarak, Bil Ghaith

Locations: Al Qunfidhah, Thurayban, Al Makhwah, Suq ath Thulutha, Wadi Hali, 'Aqabat ash Sha'ar, Abha, Dhahran, Jallat al Mawt, Harub, Sabya, Umm al Khashab, Jabal Harfa, Wadi Shaybanah, Ad Dhafir, Jabal Baydan, Jabal Mana', 'Ar'arah, Suq al Sabt, An Namas, Jabal Harfa, Ash Shaykh, Ad Dhafir , Jabal Baydan, At Taif.

Represented Cultural Groups: 'Amara, Bal Qarn, Bani Sa'ad, Bani Shahr, Bani Sharfa, Humaydah, Qahtan, Rijal al Ma, Harb Bedouin, Wala Bedouin, Al Hud (Roma?).


Wilfred Thesiger, 1946. 'Hijaz 1946', Personal Diary (Collection of Eton College Library).

Wilfred Thesiger, 1947. 'A Journey through the Tihama, the 'Asir, and the Hijaz Mountains', The Geographical Journal, Vol. 110, No. 4/6.