shifting sands

We were seventy-five minutes north of Riyadh when Khalid turned the wheel of the Land Cruiser sharply to the left, off the asphalt and onto the desert. Except for an abandoned tire and a piece of wood reading KM 23, there were no indications why we should turn here onto the unmarked sands. “Have you ever heard of Wahhabis?” Khalid asked me. “My family are the original Wahhabis.”
“Fantastic!” I said, thinking that this was perhaps not the best time to tell him I was the grandson of two rabbis.



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Pub Date
June, 2007
Photos by Rob Howard



In December 2007, I traveled to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of my friend, the British Ambassador. The kindnesses I was shown, the extraordinary sights, from the Hashemite tombs of Madain Saleh to the monkey-ridden mountains of Asir, from traveling on camel back and hunting with falcons to dining on Whoppers and drinking black market Black Label in Riyadh, made the trip a jam-packed 10-day seminar on a country I had thought I might visit, perhaps, after a trip to the dark side of the moon.

Lucky I wasn’t a woman…

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