The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut
by Freya Stark
Edged by the fearsome Empty Quarter to the North, the Arabian Sea to the South and resting on layers of history that stretch back to the dawn of ... Show synopsis Edged by the fearsome Empty Quarter to the North, the Arabian Sea to the South and resting on layers of history that stretch back to the dawn of human civilisation, the Hadhramaut - heart of 'Arabia Felix', in what is now Yemen - is one of the wildest and most remote parts of Arabia, little-changed from when Freya Stark travelled there over 70 years ago. Tracing the ancient incense route, Stark set out to be the first westerner to discover the fabled lost city of Shabwa, which had captivated explorers and travellers for centuries. Though she journeyed through the canyons and mountains of the Hadhramaut extensively and by any means possible, Stark's goal was never reached, but the ending to her story was nevertheless - and in characteristic fashion - dramatic. Having caught measles whilst staying in a sultan's harem and with the region overrun by warring religious factions and bandits, she had to be evacuated by the Royal Air Force. Though Shabwa remained elusive, Freya Stark's remarkable journey ensured that her name would forever be associated with Arabia and her travels hailed as intrepid and adventurous as any undertaken by other great explorers of Arabia such as T.E. Lawrence, Richard Burton and Charles Doughty.