Imagine yourself on a cold, flat, desert plain surrounded by sharp towering dunes, days from anything that resembles a village. It’s winter, so your feet ache as the soft sand sucks the heat out of your soles, yet the only thing you care about at the moment is eating your breakfast, freshly prepared desert bread, baked in the charcoal fired sand oven. With you are a dozen or so friendly Bedu that you hired to guide and protect you as you become the latest in a handful of westerners to ever cross the treacherous Rub’ al Khali.
Wilfred Thesiger woke up on the Arabian Peninsula to many scenes described above in the mid to late 1940’s. Later he published the travel classic Arabian Sands, in 1959. In it he describes, in great detail, Bedu culture and their life in the Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter).
In this episode of the Sultanate, I sit down with Tom Ordeman to discuss Wilfred Thesiger and his memoir Arabian Sands.
Tom Ordeman, Jr. is an information security practitioner at Oregon State University, and a part-time military historian. When he was an anti-terrorism consultant in Kuwait from 2010 to 2012, Oman became part of his responsibility. Later, Tom fell in love with the Sultanate of Oman during a life-changing visit in 2012. He’s written several articles for Small Wars Journal, and he’s previously discussed Oman on the War College podcast and the International Spy Museum podcast, called Spycast.
Join us as we discuss Wilfred Thesiger and Arabian Sands.
- Spycast – When COIN Works: An Interview with Tom Ordeman
- War College – The Most Important Middle Eastern Country You’ve Never Heard Of
- Tom’s articles on Small Wars Journal
- 5 Must Read Histories of Oman prepared by Tom Ordeman