Sir Wilfred Thesiger

Sir Wilfred Thesiger (1910-2003). British explorer and travel writer who "specialised" in Arabia/Iraq/Abyssinia/Sudan/East Africa/Morocco. Did most of his travelling between the 1930s to the 1950s including war service in "Special Operations" during which he was involved in the liberation of Ethiopia. Was friends with rulers such as Haile Selassie and Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi. Has been called "the last of the great Victorian travelers, born half a century after his time." and continued the British "Arabist" travelling tradition by bonding with the tribes whose lands he travelled through and adopting their values. His collection of photographs is held by the Pitt-Rivers museum and many are available for viewing on line. see
For more about his life also see

Connected Sites

Site Rationale Link
Ahwar of Southern Iraq Wrote The Marsh Arabs (1964), on his time living with the Marsh Arabs of Iraq.
Al Ain "Thesiger's travels frequently took him through the emirate, through the southern oasis of Liwa, through the capital city, and to Al Ain itself, where he formed an enduring friendship with Sheikh Zayed, the future ruler of Abu Dhabi and the 'father' and first president of the United Arab Emirates." See:
Ennedi Massif Describes his visit in "A Camel Journey to Tibesti" (1939): "Basking on the edge of these pools I saw six small crocodiles, the largest 5 feet in length."
Konso Thesiger suggested the tribe for an anthropological Phd thesis "While enquiring about the possibilities of fieldwork in Ethiopia, Wilfred Thesiger drew his attention to the Konso, among whom Hallpike lived from 1965-67. His doctoral research was published in 1972 as The Konso of Ethiopia. A study of the values of a Cushitic people." From his photo collection:
Lake Turkana From his autobiography "The Life of my Choice"
Lakes of Ounianga Describes his visit in "A Camel Journey to Tibesti" (1939)
Shibam His travels there in the 1940s are described by Thesiger in "Arabian Sands" . "Whenever I was in the silent alleyways under the sheer walls of these houses I felt as if I were at the bottom of a well"


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