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Thursday 28 April ,2016

The National Archives celebrates the signing of its latest publication “In the Heart of the Desert”.

The National Archives celebrates the signing of its latest publication “In the Heart of the Desert”.

The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates launched its latest book (In the Heart of the Desert) at the signature corner of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2016. In the presence of His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Al Rayes, Director General of the National Archives, author Michael Quentin Morton signed his book, which was recently published by the National Archives.

For his part, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Al-Rayyes introduced the book to the attendees, explaining that the history of the UAE in particular and the Gulf region in general requires comprehensive documentation, and this is the role of the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates, which maintains a large number of historical documents that document the memory of the nation, and write History in its details. In this regard, the National Archives completes its primary role in preserving and documenting the memory of the nation. Then, Dr. Al Rayes talked about the shift that the country witnessed at the hands of the founding leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan - may God rest his soul in peace - and his brothers, the founding fathers, which the book proves. When he depicts the reality of life in the past and what was marred by hardship.

Al-Rayyes added: The book (In the Heart of the Desert) is a documentation - which the National Archives was keen on - because of its accuracy in depicting the reality of life before "the advent of oil" in its various social, political and economic aspects, not only in the UAE but in all the Arab Gulf countries.

The Director General of the National Archives congratulated the author on the great and fruitful effort he made and on his book, which is rich in information, documents and historical photographs that will enrich the memory of the nation and be a source of sustenance for future generations.

In the heart of the desert

The newly published book "In the Heart of the Desert" by the National Archives begins in February 1954 when the ships of the Iraq Petroleum Company docked, after the Arabian Peninsula remained a site that geologists rarely paid attention to until the 1920s. The first oil discovery took place on the Bahraini island of Awali in 1932 AD.

 The author's father began his exploratory journey through the Middle East in 1945 AD, and he was working with geologists, surveyors, and political liaison officers and was supported by the Iraq Petroleum Company, and after a quarter of a century Mike completed his journey when he visited the far northern tip of the Arabian Peninsula in his capacity as the leader of the Royal Geographical Society expedition to the Musandam Peninsula.

In April 1970, Mike Morton arrived at "Ras Duqm" from "Aden", and there the book highlights the great challenge for geological explorations, and reveals the ability of the desert to capture the hearts of travelers and attract them to it again.

The chapters of the book begin with the first chapter, titled: "Baba Karkar", in which Mike writes a letter to his wife Heather describing the desert and the attractiveness of the wilderness at night and day, and he talks about the phenomenon of the presence of gas in "Baba Karkar", and the evidence for this is the name "Baba Karkar", which means "Abu Karkar". Underground", and the place was known for its flaming gases that escaped from the cracks in the formation of the earth, and those torches that burned at night were among the tourist attractions in Kirkuk.

Strategic and commercial interests, not oil, were the first thing that attracted the British towards Iraq, when the India Company established a factory in the port of Basra in 1763. In the twentieth century, the growing need to find oil was what drove British interests in the region. Baba Karkar”, and the great confidence that this left in the hearts of the employees of the oil company and its management.

In the second chapter, titled: "The Blowing of Cold Winds," the author expresses his nostalgia for his hometown in Huddersfield, famous for the textile industry, then tells something about his life, his studies, and the family in which he grew up, then his interest in geology, and the jobs he held in the Middle East. The third chapter, "The Holy City," focused on Michael Morton's worlds in Palestine and Transjordan. In this chapter, the author paints a clear and detailed picture of the city of Haifa in Palestine, and then the atmosphere of work that is dominated by paradoxes and exciting stories that describe the course of their lives as they work in Transjordan amid conditions, whatever they may be. Too harsh.

And he continues in the fourth chapter, describing life among the Bedouins, whom he knew as never changing, and enjoying the greatness of a people who lived long in the desert. Customs and traditions are the basis of their lives, and they derive their strength from their religion. respect. Mike was collecting fossils during his trip in Palestine and Transjordan, and he is sure that the division of the desert into countries greatly affected the life of the Bedouins. Dhofar, a number of Bedouins who accompanied the great traveler when he crossed the Empty Quarter desert.

The writer describes the conditions and nature of Yemen at the time, and the flight that took him to Mukalla, and from there to Bombay. It also describes the white buildings of Mukalla, and the palace of Sultan Al-Quaiti built on the beach, which is the most beautiful building in Mukalla.

Mike goes on to describe the movements of the oil company team between the villages and cities of Yemen, their visit to the tomb of the Prophet Hood, then their return to Seiyun, and the hospitality they received. The sixth chapter, titled "The Land of the Sun and Fire," began by talking about the characters who were characterized by daring and love of adventure, who were accompanied by Mike. He indicates that the expedition passed through the country of al-Mahra, which is a group of unconnected mountains that ends at the Arabian Sea. Mike describes the preparation of the camel caravan that crossed The land of Al-Mahrah, and how conditions began to change with crossing the borders of Al-Mahrah land, and Mike does not stop describing the details of his journey on the land of Yemen, its sufferings and surprises, and the happy moments and situations that took place.

In "Dhofar... the land that God nurtured," according to the title of Chapter Seven, the writer refers to the interest of oil companies in Dhofar after a long desertion, and how the Sultan was keen to promote the search for oil in Dhofar.

Mike praises the blessed land of Dhofar, which overflows with milk and honey, and with its wonderful weather was a resort for the Sultan in his white castle, and its red windows in the coconut palm grove. Oil and perhaps its absence in Dhofar, and Mike lands his travels in the eighth chapter in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where he lived a completely different life than before, if he enjoyed social life.

From Aleppo, Mike moves in the ninth chapter to Qatar and Oman, and in that a return to the desert, in which the affairs of each tribe depend on the personality of its sheikh.

From Qatar, he moved to Oman and then Al-Buraimi, which was rumored to be floating on a sea of oil. His qualitative transfer occurred in the mission’s biography with the arrival of a new liaison officer, Edward Henderson, who established good relations with the tribes and with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who resides in Abu Dhabi in particular. Henderson has had good efforts in paving the way politically for the company's operations in the region.

The tenth chapter of the book takes place in western Hadhramaut, and in this region the mission followed the path of Saint John Philby, the traveler who went to Shabwa, and was an advisor to the Saudi monarch.

On a first trip for his wife, Heather, to the Middle East, Mike paints a clear picture of the tribes and the details of the life he lived with them.

Mike appears as a seasoned expert in the twelfth chapter, and he became the head of a geological team in the Limited Oil Concessions Company (Aden Protectorate).

In the thirteenth chapter, the author returns to Oman. As the Iraq Petroleum Company remained determined to explore the Omani interior in the Duqm camp and Al-Harasis Avenue, and the book continues in the fifteenth chapter the exploration journey of Oman, to return in the sixteenth chapter to Al-Buraimi and with the continuation of oil exploration the book returns to the issue of Al-Buraimi, and from Al-Buraimi to Al-Harasis Avenue, Then to the Green Mountain in Oman, and describes in the seventeenth chapter very accurately the political map in Oman distributed between the Sultan and the Imam and some of the forces supporting this or that.

In the eighteenth chapter, the author recalls his trips to Dubai in the car, and praises the morals of the desert Arabs who provide relief to the needy, and indicates that Abu Dhabi was the brightest star and the most optimistic about finding oil in its land after its discovery in the (Murban) field.

The nineteenth chapter follows the activity of oil exploration in the Musandam Peninsula, and the rest of the book chapters are full of memories about nature, treatment methods, foods and life changes at a slow pace in the countries where companies have explored for oil.

The book supported the memories of the author (In the Heart of the Desert), and the reality of life in the past on a very large number of pictures that support the information of the book.

Book: In the Heart of the Desert

Publisher: The National Archives, Abu Dhabi, 2016, first edition, 425 pages.