Remembering The Travels of Ibn Rakha: November, 2008

Our intrepid explorer Youssef Rakha heads to the mall in the footsteps of ibn Battuta.


The journalist Abu Said ibn Rakha recounted as follows:

My trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai took place at a later hour than planned on Monday, the 22nd of the month of Dhul Qi’dah, in this, the 1429th year after the blessed Hijrah. My object was to roam inside the Emirates’ newfangled monument to my venerable sheikh of Tangier – honest judge of the Maliki school of Sunni jurisprudence, associate of Temur the Tatar and Orhan the Ottoman, and divinely gifted savant of his day – Shamsuddin Abu Abdalla ibn Battuta. He is the author of the unsurpassed Rihla (you may know it as The Travels of ibn Battuta), the glorious account of his three decades’ Journey around the world, dazzling pearl on the bed of our literary sea, which he dictated before he died in 770 or 779 and whose style I now humbly emulate.

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The Sands incarnate

I am on the way to Al Ain to attend the opening of the newly restored Al Jahili Fort when it starts to rain. I know the event will take place in the open air and, thinking of its seemingly miraculous highlight – the presence among the audience of the late Wilfred Thesiger’s travelling companions Salim bin Ghabaisha and Salim bin Kabina, the two teenagers from the Rawashid tribe immortalised in his book Arabian Sands – I suddenly relish what cold and discomfort might come as a tiny taste of the unique spell “this cruel land can cast”.

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