Abu Dhabi and Wilfred Thesiger

in a gallery in Al Ain

It was interesting to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Wilfred Thesiger exhibition in Al Ain on a trip from Oman.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a remarkable contrast in most respects to the superlative Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque’s exterior is a brilliant white –its interior, in contrast,  is an equally brilliant poly-chrome .  The carpet uses the same company that was previously used for the carpet in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, not surprising as the Oman organisers completely re-organised their carpet production work-flow. Although completely different in design, the chandelier is from Faustig who supplied the magnificent ones for the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Almost overflowing with floral designs, the mosque sits opposite the old tower at Maqta which, some 50 years ago, guarded the ford to the island of Abu Dhabi .

Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Wilfred Thesiger Photo sitting in his Arabian Sands on out trip Abu Dhabi and Wilfred Thesiger
Wilfred Thesiger Photo sitting in his Arabian Sands

Images of Maqta tower and the ford are included in an atmospheric galley in Al Jahili Fort Al Ain of photos by Wilfred Thesiger.

The visits he made to Oman’s deserts, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain in the late 1940s were recorded with ‘black and white’ photography. His traveling guides and companions bin Kabina and bin Gabisha are a focus of the images in the galley along with Sheikh Zayed. The gallery, with its natural earth tones and simple design, reflect Thesiger’s own yearning for austerity and focuses the visitor’s attention on the evocative images of his travels.


Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman