Abu Dhabi, 1946

We stayed for twenty days at Abu Dhabi, a small town of about two thousand inhabitants. Each morning the Sheikhs visited us, walking slowly across from the castle — Shakhbut, a stately figure in a black cloak, a little ahead of his brothers, followed by a throng of armed retainers. We talked for an hour or more, drinking coffee and eating sweets, and, after they had left us, we visited the market, where we sat cross-legged in the small shops, gossipping and drinking more coffee; or we wandered along the beach and watched the dhows being caulked and treated with shark-oil to prepare them for the pearling season, the children bathing in the surf, and the fishermen landing their catch. Once they brought in a young dugong or sea-cow which they had caught in their nets. It was about four feet long, a pathetically helpless-looking creature, hideously ugly. They said its meat was good eating, and that its skin made sandals.

    — Wilfred Thesiger, Arabian Sands

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