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The Sand Kings of Oman: The Experiences of an RAF Officer in Trucial Oman. (Book reviews: books in brief).

THE SAND KINGS OF OMAN THE EXPERIENCES OF AN RAF OFFICER IN TRUCIAL OMAN By Raymond O'Shea published by Kegan Paul International ISBN 0 7103 0675 x price 65.00 [pound sterling] hardback

This book is a factual account of the experiences of the author whilst serving on the Trucial Oman coast of Arabia in 1944 and 1945, it is not intended to be a geographical, historical or ethnological treatise. It is simply a travel book, or, perhaps more accurately, a diary of day-to-day life written in narrative form. It does not claim to contain anything new or unfamiliar to the reader of Arabian travel lore, although in 1945 the great desert land was still little known to the world at large and the Oman peninsula least of all.

Raymond O'Shea's interest in the Arabs was stimulated by the extensive literature he had read on the subject, and also because -- even then -- to any student of world affairs the political events of the Middle East assumed an importance which it would be foolish to deny. He observed, `at any moment the spark of fanaticism, fanned to flame by agitators and agents provocateurs, could spread a conflagration throughout the Arab world, and it is as well that we should know something about these 30,000,000 peoples which compose it'. As far as possible O'Shea avoids discussion of political matters, confining himself to a description of the topography, races, customs and industries of the Gulf. But the question of British influence and interests in the region were so predominant it was difficult to avoid occasional reference to the subject.

It aims to be reasonably accurate and to reflect exact conditions as they existed in 1945.

Of particular interest are O'Sheas observations on the importance the discovery of oil had on the area. "The search for oil is going to change the face of Arabia", the author observed more than half a century ago. "But if it results in modernising the desert tribes ... even the romanticist must forbear from complaint."
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Author:Rhodes, Fred
Publication:The Middle East
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 2002
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