A new book on the Arab States of the Gulf comes as a breath of fresh air amid news of turmoil, trauma and injustices occuring in the Middle East.
Wajid & The Perfect Pearl by Australian photojournalist Christine Osborne takes us on a journey back to the old days in the Arab world. The slender volume subtitled, ‘Tales from old Araby,’ relates imagined stories of traditional life before the discovery of extensive oil and gas reserves changed local society forever.
Based in London, Osborne then aged 33, wrote the first ever hardcover book on development in the region which was published in 1977. Lavishly illustrated and considered a classic account of the time, The Gulf States & Oman was recently republished by Routledge UK in its library series History of the Middle East.
Back home and now living in the Blue Mountains, Christine has brought to life the background to some of her most striking pictures in a collection taken in more than sixty countries including 30 Muslim majority nations.
The idea of a picture story book had occurred when she photographed a cat in the great Muttrah souq in the Sultanate of Oman located on the south coast of the vast Arabian peninsula with an enclave overlooking the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
“I used to see him on my daily strolls, seated outside an incense shop, eyes closed, lost in cat dreams as the fragrance of frankincense drifted through the bazaar,” says Osborne.
Along with Wajid, the pearl-diver, the reader is introduced to Mr al-Faludi the date-farmer whose deep connection with the land mirrors the timeless beauty of his harvest.
We meet Ahmed the Red Sea fisherman who enjoys an air-conditioned movie on his day off and encounter Abdullah, the old Bedouin and Jamila, his faithful camel as they traverse the hinterland, an echo of caravans that once plied their trade between oases.
Through evocative prose and accompanied by striking imagery, Wajid & the Perfect Pearl unveils the allure of a bygone age. It is recommended for anyone with an interest in this fascinating and peaceful part of the Middle East.
WAJID AND THE PERFECT PEARL: