His Highness Shaikh Sir 'Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah







LONDON:     First Edition  1956



Publisher/Year: LONDON, George Allen & Unwin, First Edition 1956.
Binding: Original Cloth Hardcover, 23x16 cm.
Pages: 628
Illustrations: 47 photo illustrations, 15 illustrations in text, 14 Genealogical Tables (including 2 in pocket), 6 Maps (including 4 in pocket).

   Please see book CONDITION at end    жжж

Harold Richard Patrick Dickson (1881-1959)

Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Richard Patrick Dickson, C.I.E., F.R.G.S., son of the late John Dickson, Her Britannic Majesty's Consul-General in Jerusalem, was born in Beyrout on 4th February 1881. Educated at St. Edward's School, Oxford, and Wadham College, Oxford University, he joined the 1st Connaught Rangers in 1903 and, after service in Ireland and India, transferred in I908 to the 29th Lancers (Deccan Horse), Indian Army.
On the outbreak of the First World War his regiment went to France, but, because of his knowledge of Arabic, he was attached to the 33rd Q.V.O. Light Cavalry and sent to Mesopotamia in November 1914. He took part in all the actions leading up to the capture of Basra, Kurna and Nasiriyah, including the battle of Shu'aiba, and was mentioned in dispatches.
    In August 1915 he was transferred to the Political Department and, under Sir Percy Cox, assisted in the organization of a civil administration in southern Iraq, which was slowly being wrested from the Turks. As Assistant Political Officer he was placed in charge of the little town and district of Suq ash Shuyukh on the Euphrates, the only Englishman among a far from friendly Arab population. Subsequently he was appointed Political Officer at Nasiriyah, with control over the whole of that area, including the great Muntafiq tribal confederation.
    Soon after the end of the First World War he was transferred to Bahrain as Political Agent, a post he held until 1920, when he returned to Iraq as Political Officer Middle Euphrates and then as adviser to the first Arab governor of the province of Hilla. In 1923 he moved to India, becoming private secretary to the Maharajah of Bikaner, and four years later was appointed secretary to the Political Resident in the Persian Gulf, whose headquarters were then at Bushire. In 1929, when the 'Ikhwan rebellion against King Ibn Sa'ud was at its height, he went to Kuwait as Political Agent and, sometimes at the risk of his life, played a prominent part in the negotiations that led to the capitulation of the rebels and the maintenance of the independence of Shaikh Sir Ahmad al Jabir Al Sabah, then ruler of Kuwait.
    Retirement from the Army on reaching the age limit in 1936 led also to his relinquishment of the post of Political Agent, and since that time he has continued in Kuwait as the chief local representative (Arab relations) of the Kuwait Oil Company.
    His personal friendship with King Ibn Sa'ud, which began in 1920 and continued uninterrupted until that ruler's death in 1953, and his friendship also with the highest and lowliest in Kuwait, Sa'udi Arabia and Iraq, have given him opportunities to gain a great deal of valuable, first-hand information, some of which has already been recorded in The Arab of the Desert. Here, in this second book, are many more personal reminiscences, a history of the Al Sa'ud and the Wahabis, a detailed account of the 'Ikhwan rebellion of 1929-30 and its repercussions on Kuwait, and a complete history of that little country, so important to us now, from earliest times to the present day.
Dickson had a son Saud (who died in May 2005), and a daughter Zahra Freeth (née Dickson), who is also an author on Middle Eastern topics and who co-edited and abridged the third edition of The Arab of the Desert.


 Original 1956 First Edition

in Very Scarce


Best Work Ever on

Surround Gulf Area



Quatrains of Wise Men


Four things should be controlled : Tongue, Muscles, Breathing, and Feelings.
Four conceptions should be defended : Religion, Dignity, Motherland, and Principle.
Four things are pleasant: Beauty, Innocence, Humbleness, and Chastity.
Four things are essential: Gratitude, Love of Parents, Faithful Friends, and the Sanctity of the Pledged Word.
Four defects are to be avoided : Flattery, Slander, Extravagance, and Laziness.
Four qualities are to be respected : Faithfulness, Honesty, Obedience, and Diligence.
Four things are to be abhorred : Falsehood, Stupidity, Ingratitude, and Pride.
Four qualities are to be loved : Piety, Freedom, Bravery, and Frankness.
Four traits bring satisfaction: Self-denial, Good Character, Pure Heart, and Sincerity in dealing with others.
Four things are unavoidable: Death, Speech, Water, and Air.
Four things should be avoided : Envy, Evil Acts, Hatred, and Levity.
Four things bring shame: A Daughter, even f she is a Mary; a Debt, even f it is a Piastre; Remoteness,
even f it is a Mile; and Deviation from the Right Path.

This Book ...

FROM the wealth of a lifetime's experience in the Near and Middle East, Col. Dickson drew the material for this second book. Here are personal reminiscences ranging in time and place from the days of the author's youth in Beyrout, Damascus and Jerusalem to among the Euphrates tribes and events of recent history in the Persian Gulf. Some of the earlier stories give an insight into the family background of the Dicksons, and revel the influences which later helped to shape the author's career among the Arabs, and fostered his love for these people and their lands.
    It is Col. Dickson's singular achievement that he has won the confidence of the desert dweller in such a way as to acquire an unrivalled  knowledge of all that touches upon their lives. Also include in this book is much of the history of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, not previously published, and valuable topographical information on N.E. Arabia compiled from the author's own investigations over the past 25 years.


THIS large and rather expensive book covers a lot of ground, both within and without the limits of Kuwait, and of time, too. Indeed, to provide a background, Colonel Dickson has included enough of the history and customs of the Arabs to do more than satisfy most readers. There is an adequate epitome of the rise of the Wahhabi power and a thrilling first-hand account of the great rebellion against Ibn Sa’ud in 1929—30. The author’s adventures as a young political officer under Sir Percy Cox in ‘Iraq are very exciting and his later life in Kuwait after retirement from Government service makes good reading. Here his wife has helped him out with accounts of visits to the harim of Ibn Sa’ud and to other Arab ladies.
Geographers will be interested to hear that the small lakes in the oasis of Jabrin south-east of Riyadh are artificial; that is, they are the result of ancient bore-holes, “150 feet deep or more,” which have tapped a prolific water-table. This is stated on the authority of Aramco geologists, who have pumped one of the lakes dry and excavated the shaft which supplies its water.
On top of this exciting stuff we come to the modern miracle, the discovery of oil in Kuwait and its frightening consequences for immediate good and ultimate evil in Arabia. The author dismisses this subject rather briefly: perhaps because his daughter, Mrs. Freeth, has dealt with it at more length in her recent book, reviewed below, ‘Kuwait was my home.’ Towards the end, the book drags. There are too many Arab legends about their ancestors and Colonel Dickson is too polite in hesitating to express doubt of some of their modern fairy tales. That of the American doctor’s successful angling inside a patient for camel-ticks (pp. 53 i—z) is absurd. Nor is there any real need to ascribe the recovery of a sufferer from viper-bite to a (live) Muslim saint eight hours’ camel journey away. Both the Egyptologists Dr. A. E. Sayce and Rex Engelbach survived bites from horned vipers without spiritual help. The author is charitable even to Palgrave whose account of a visit to Nejd a century ago is termed “vivid and truthful.” Palgrave’s account is certainly vivid but some have been found to doubt whether he ever visited Riyadh at all.



"Students of Arab affairs will find it indispensable as a source of authentic information"  The Guardian   

His Majesty King Sa'ud Ibn 'Abdul 'Aziz Al Sa'ud

Contents ...


Chapter I
An Arab Princedom

"Najd by the Sea"-Early History-The Present Ruler-State Boundaries-Physical Geography-Kuwait Bay-Kuwait Town-Sea Front and Shipping -Climate and Population-Military Resources-Communications-Flora and Fauna.

Chapter II
Districts and Villages around Kuwait and in Eastern Arabia

Al'Adan-Bahrain-A1 Batin-A1 Dhilai'at al Muaijil -Al Dibdibba-Failaka Island-Al Hafar al Batin-A1 Hazaim-Jahra-Al Kabd-K'adhima-A abibah -Al Maqta'-Qara'ah-Qasr Mishrif-Qurain-Al Qusur-Al Riq'ai-Al Salu'-Ash Shaqq-Al Shiqaq -As Suda-A1 Summan-Umm al Khilan-Umm Junaib-Al Wabrah - Wuraiah-Yah-Hufuf-Al Dahana and Jabrin Oasis.

Chapter III
 Tribes and Families of Arabia

Settlers and Nomads-'Ajman-'Anizah -'Aqail'AwAmir-'Awazim-Bani Hajir-Bani Ka'ab-Bani Khalid-Bani Sakhr-Bani Tamim-Bani Yam-Bani Yas - Billi - Duwasir -Harb-Hasawfyah - Hutaim-Al Khalffah-Manasir-AI Murra-Mutair -Ahl Najran-Qahtan-Qawasim-Al Rashaida-AI Rashid-AI Sabah-Sahul-Sai'ar-A1 Sa'ud-Sebei'-Shammar - Al Sudairi-Sulubba- Al' Utaiba - Al Za'ab (and 'Adwan).


Chapter IV
 The Rise and Decline of Wahabism, I742-I893

Birth of Muhammad ibn 'Abdul Wahab-Muhammad Ibn Sa'ud Becomes First Wahabi Amir of Najd-'Ali Pasha Invades Hasa-Opening of British Relations with Kuwait-Turkish Measures Against Najd-Najd a Province of Egypt-Faisal the Great-Third Occupation by the Turks-The Al Rashfd Control Arabia.

Chapter V
 Tales of My Grandfather

The Siege of Plevna-Adventures in Africa-The Battle of Nazib-Suicide of Sultan 'Abdul 'Aziz-Murder of Midhat Pasha.

Chapter VI
 Najd and Kuwait, 1896-1917

Mubarak Seizes the Throne of Kuwait-Ibn Sa'ud Seizes Riyadh-British Ties with Kuwait Strengthened -Qasfm Occupied-The Treasure of Israel-The American Arabian Mission-State Boundaries-The Birth of 'Ikhwanism-Ibn Sa'ud Conquers HasaKuwait Joins the Allies-Ibn Sa'ud Supports Britain-Death of Shaikh Mubarak-A Leader for the 'Ikhwan -Husain Becomes King of the Hijaz.

Chapter VII
Suq Ash Shuyukh, 1915-1916

Arab Tribes of Southern Iraq-Bani 'Isad (or 'Asad)-Dhafir-Muntafiq-Cultivator and Marsh Tribes-Shepherd Tribes-The Al Sa'dun Family-I Take Charge of Suq ash Shuyukh-Muhammad al 'Ayail Whitens My Face-A Wise Adviser-The Mudhif-Civic Reception-Rough Justice-Qasid al Nahi Pays Blood Money-The Muffled Horseman.

Chapter VIII
 'Suq Ash Shuyukh, 1917-1918

The Breaking of the Mujashiyah Dam-Sequel to a Christmas Party-Husain al Gubaih and the War-Tower-Mirza Inaya's Talisman.

Chapter IX
 Nasiriyah, 1918-1919

'Abdullah Beg al Faleh Pasha Al Sa'dtin Makes His Submission-The Bad Old Man of the Great Marshes -Binniyah-The Kurdish Maiden of Suwa'ij-The Vengeance of Haji Nasir.

Chapter X
 The 'Ikhwan Make War on Kuwait,1917-1921

Death of Shaikh Jabir-Accession of Shaikh Salim-The hilby Mission to Riyadh-The Royal Navy Blockades Kuwait -Ibn Saiud Resumes Hostilities Against Ibn Rashid- A Hospital for the Women of Kuwait `Myrilay'-My Visit to Hufuf-The Boundary Question Again-The Battle of Jahra-The British Government Intervenes-A New Ruler of Kuwait-Sa'ud Al Arafa's Love for Nura-Ibn Sa'ud Captures Ha'il and Annexes Jabal Shammar.

Chapter XI
The Demarcation of the Frontiers,1921-1923

My Return to Iraq-The Bombing of the Mosque of 'Imam 'Ali-The Treaty of Muhammerah-The Black Admiral of Qatif-The'Uqair Conference-Reactions in Kuwait.

Chapter XII
 Prelude to the Rebellion, 1923-1928

'Ikhwwan Townships-Abdication of King Husain-The Treaties of Hadda and Bahra-Ibn Sa'ud Proclaimed King of the Hijaz-Signs of Discontent among the 'Ikhwan-Heavy Raiding by the 'Ikhwan -Attack on Iraq Police Post at Busaiyah-Faisal Al Duwish Crosses Iraq Frontier-Kuwait Forces Defeat Raiders-The Jiddah Conversations-The King Decides-Conference with the 'Ikhw'an-A Meeting Arranged.

Chapter XIII
The 'Ikhwan Rebellion, I929-I930

The 'Ikhwan Raid Kuwait-They are Attacked by the R.A.F. - Sibila, a Rather Mysterious Battle -The Murder of Dhaidan Al Hithlain-The'Ajman Raise the Standard of Revolt- Faisal Al Duwish Casts in His Lot with Them-Ibn Sa'ud is on the Defensive-Faisal Al Duwish Gives Me His Word-A Fight to the Death for Water-The King Attacks-The End of the Rebellion -Faisal Al Shiblan Takes Coffee with Me-The Terms of Surrender-Death of a Great Desert Warrior-The End of Militant 'Ikhwanism-Ibn Sa'ud Consolidates his Position.


Chapter XIV
 Kuwait, 1931-1936

Justifiable Homicide-The Nine Graves-The Air Agreement at Sharjah-'Amsha and Faiha-A Desert Luncheon-Sulubba Witchcraft-Daghaima and the Fox's Hole-The Dream of the 'Utaiba Woman.

Chapter XV
 Riyadh 1937

Oil Concession to Kuwait Oil Company (1934)-Our Trip to Riyadh by Car-The King Discusses the Palestine Question-A Call on the Royal Ladies-Second Audience with the King-The War Dance-Farewell to Riyadh-The Return Journey-Reactions.

Chapter XVI
 Kuwait, 1939

A Wedding in Kuwait-Noblesse Oblige-The Teeth of 'Abdullah ibn Hijji-The Woman Who Sneezed-The Turkish Pasha Buys a Mare-The Jew and the Prophet-The Curing of Sa'ud ibn 'AgabA Kuwait Mystic-Two Devils Cast Out of BathaThe Olcott Memorial Hospital.

Chapter XVII
 Kuwait, 1939-1942

The Second World War-Muhammad al Saiyid Shows His PowerS-The Trail of the Claw-'Ali al 'Ariq Does Not Forget-The King's Mercy-Preparing for A1 Sifr-The Berthing Operation-Ruins of an Ancient City-The Islands of Birds-Migrating Birds Through Kuwait.

Chapter XVIII
Kuwait, 1942-1943

A Case of Desert Law-Thirst in the Deep Desert-The Mutair Come Up from the Summan-A Wicked Uncle-The City Under the Sands-The Song of Gharaihiban-The Son of Te'ethab al Murri-The Battle with Shuwa'ir of Yemen-The Black Dog of Hufuf-Eaten Alive by Wolves-The Badawin Thief -`Kill the Man who Slew the Dog"

Chapter XIX
 Kuwait, I943-I945

A Lizard for Dinner-The Sick Wife of Fahad al F'adhil-The Skill of Dr Dame-The Wells of Al Tawil-The Return of the Pilgrims-The Cutting of the Bracelet-Gumza's Daughter-The Ark of Ishmael -The Killing of an 'Ajman Tribesman-The Meeting-Place of the Slaves-Fida'at Allah.


Chapter XX

 The First Shipment of Oil-The Lebanese Point of View-Discontent in Sa'udi Aabia-The Impact of the West-Progress of the Kuwait Oil Company

'Ajman Peculiarities Breeding and Mating Terms


Huge Map of Kuwait and Basra, approx. (85x75cm)
Please notice size of "Bic" pen to Map

Illustrations ...

  1. His Highness Shaikh Sir 'Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah

  2. His Highness Shaikh Sir 'Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah

  3. His Highness Shaikh Sir Salman Ibn Hamad Al Khalffah

  4. His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Ahmad Al Sabah

  5. His Majesty King 'Abdul 'Aziz Ibn 'Abdul Rahman Ibn Faisal Al Sa'ud

  6. His Majesty King Sa'ud Ibn 'Abdul 'Aziz Al Sa'ud

  7. His Highness Shaikh Sir 'Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah And Shaikh'ali Ibn Thani

  8. His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Mubarak Al Sabah

  9. His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Jabir Al Sabah

  10. His Excellency Shaikh Sabah Al Salim Al Sabah

  11. His Excellency Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah

  12. His Excellency Shaikh Jabir Al Ahmad Al Sabah

  13. Naif Ibn Hithlain And Faisal Ibn Sultan Al Duwish

  14. Muhammad Abu Shayba With Hunting Falcon

  15. The Author's Wife

  16. Goats And Camels

  17. Bani Khalid Tribesmen Moving To Better Grazing Grounds

  18. The War Dance, Riyadh

  19. Faisal Al Duwish, Naif Al Hithlain And Sahud Ibn Lami

  20. Views of Hufuf

  21. A View Inside Ibn Jiluwi's Palace At Hufuf

  22. Munif Al Munaifis' Tent

  23. Saleh Al Murri With His Wife And Son

  24. Olcott Memorial Hospital For Women, Kuwait

  25. Grave of Dr Charles Stanley Garland Mylrea

  26. Shaikh Sha'iya Abu Shayba, Munif Al Munaifis, Khamis Ibn Rimthan And Sa'ida

  27. Decorated Beams In Budi'ah Palace

  28. Decorated Ceiling Cloth In Bud'l'ah Palace

  29. Decorated Door In Budi'ah Palace

  30. The Sulphur Spring of 'Ain Al 'Abd

  31. The Author And His Murri Guard Fahaid

  32. A Khansha Sailing-Craft From S6r, Oman

  33. Haji Ahmad Al Atram's Boat-Building Yard, Kuwait

  34. The Author's Wife About To Make Coffee

  35. The Qata or Tent Divide

  36. The Wairjiyah, Primitive Fishing-Craft

  37. The Towering Cliffs of The Jabal Qara

  38. The Shrine of Al Khidr on Failaka Island

  39. His Excellency Shaikh Mubarak Al Hamad Al Sabah

  40. Afternoon Tea In The Oil Company's Guest-House At Ahmadi

  41. The Investiture of His Highness Shaikh Sir 'Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah, With The K.C.M.G., 1953

  42. His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Mubarak Al Sabah, C.I.E.,Ready To Administer Justice

  43. His Majesty King Sa'ud Ibn 'Abdul 'Aziz Al Sa'ud

  44. His Majesty King Sa'ud Being Entertained To Luncheon At Ahmadi

  45. A Distinguished Arrival From London

  46.  "Mac"

  47. Nimal Drawings Found West of Mudaira Wells

His Highness Shaikh Sir Salman Ibn Hamad Al Khalffah
Ruler of Bahrain


  1. Corner of A Typical Qahwa or Diwaniyah In Old Kuwait

  2. A Zarijq From Jizan, Yemen

  3. Stern Ornamentation of The Zaruq

  4. A Badan From Muscat

  5. Sternpiece of The Badan

  6. A Baqarah From The Trucial Coast

  7. The 'Afri Gazelle of North-East Arabia

  8. Tribal Tattoo Markings on A Married Girl of The Al Budijr Shepherd Tribe

  9. Tribal Tattoo Markings on A Girl of The Al Hindal Shepherd Tribe

  10. The Guardian of Inner Najd

  11. Five Different Patterns on The Walls of The Guest-House In Budf'ah Palace

  12. Door Lock In Budi'ah Palace

  13. Section of Dining-Room Wall In Budi'ah Palace

  14. Al Guaidiyat Hill

  15. Al Markab, The Ark Of Ishmael


  1. Al Hithlain

  2. Al Duwish

  3. Al Sultan

  4. Al 'Amash

  5. Al Muhammad

  6. Al Majid

  7. Al Shuqair And Al Fahad

  8. Al Watban

  9. Al Rashid

  10. Al Sudairi

  11. Al Sa'don

  12. Al Hindal

  13. Al Sabah

  14. Al Sa'ud


  1. Muntafiq Tribal Area

  2. Ruins of Thaj

  3. Basra-Kuwait

  4. Basra

  5. Sketch Map of Kuwait

  6. Road Map of Hasa Province

His Highness Shaikh Sir 'Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah And Shaikh'ali Ibn Thani

His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Jabir Al Sabah

The Investiture of His Highness Shaikh Sir 'Abdullah Al Salim Al Sabah,
With The K.C.M.G., 1953
Left to right: Mr Pirie Gordon, Sir Rupert Hay, Political Resident, His Highness,
Mr C.J. Pelly and Senior Officer, Persian Gulf

His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Mubarak Al Sabah


Faisal Ibn Sultan Al Duwish
Paramount Shaikh of the Mutair


Naif Ibn Hithlain
Paramount Shaikh of the 'Ajman

Both from sketches by the late H. Stewart, shortly after their surrender to the British at Jahra


His Excellency Shaikh Sabah Al Salim Al Sabah

Olcott Memorial Hospital For Women, Kuwait

His Excellency Shaikh Jabir Al Ahmad Al Sabah

His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Mubarak Al Sabah, C.I.E.,Ready To Administer Justice

His Excellency Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah

His Majesty King Sa'ud Being Entertained To Luncheon At Ahmadi, 1st April 1954
The King wearing white headdress, in centre. The Ruler of Kuwait on his left.

His Excellency Shaikh 'Abdullah Al Ahmad Al Sabah

Decorated Beams In Budi'ah Palace

Decorated Ceiling Cloth In Bud'l'ah Palace

The Author's Wife
Seated in front of one of the richly ornamented doorways in the ladies quarter
 of the King's Palace in Riyadh

Muhammad Abu Shayba of the Mutair tribe, with Hunting Falcon


Collection of Maps and Genealogical Trees in Pocket

Condition ...

Dust wrapper worn at edges, otherwise book complete with all plates, plans, and maps (including the ones in pocket), and in very good condition. Very Scarce Work.




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