"And I guess that with most stories emanating from the Middle East painting a pretty black picture of the region, this book, though far from being a promotional mouthpiece of the governments - thankfully escaping any censorship - will give readers many positives of a rich and still thriving culture and heritage from a fascinating and beautiful land."
courtesy Adrian Hayes, SOURCE
Armchair Travel: Footsteps of Thesiger by Adrian Hayes

Posted: Mar 18, 2013 09:28 pm EDT
(Newsdesk) End of 2011 Adrian Hayes, along with Emiratis, Saeed Rashid Al Mesafry and Ghafan Mohammed Al Jabry, crossed the Empty Quater. In a coffee table / adventure book, with 230 photographs, Hayes chronicles the 44 day and 1600 km journey through the ‘Rub Al Khali” or Empty Quarter of the Arabian Desert between October and December 2011, in the trail of 1940s British Explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger.

"Writing it was always part of the deal once book publishers Motivate Publishing, guardians of the Thesiger archives, came on board as support sponsors of the project," Hayes said to ExWeb. The book is now worldwide available at Amazon.com. He explains more about the book:

ExplorersWeb: Surely this is not just an account of your daily activities; what do you want the reader to get out of this book?

Adrian: The project and the book was always going to have three main pillars – i.e. historical (Thesiger and his travels), adventure (our modern day re-inaction), and ‘travel’ (the desert and the Bedouin) but as I embarked on both journey and book it took on even more strands than I had envisaged.

The end result therefore is a multi-dimensional journey that includes delving far deeper into what made Thesiger who he was, regional history and the ever present politics of the Gulf, the environmental challenges both we and the region faced/faces, the way of life of the Bedouin today and the huge challenges we encountered on the journey, The book also become something of a personal journey of my own in addition. With more than a fair share of humor thrown in and, above all, the large amount of amazing pictures we have included, I hope there’s something in it for everyone.

And I guess that with most stories emanating from the Middle East painting a pretty black picture of the region, this book, though far from being a promotional mouthpiece of the governments - thankfully escaping any censorship - will give readers many positives of a rich and still thriving culture and heritage from a fascinating and beautiful land.

ExplorersWeb: For you personally, what did you get out of it by writing about the experience and about Thesiger?

Adrian: Much like an actor portraying a real live person in a film - who often spends months researching that person’s character in order to understand him or her fully - so did I with Thesiger, in whose trail, primarily his first crossing of the desert, we were largely following.

I hope that the book gives an honest appraisal of him but let no one doubt that what he did - living 5 years with the Bedouin and completing two major crossings of the desert as well as numerous other journeys in an age of no communications - was truly remarkable. And coming up to 10 years after his death, the book is something of homage to him and his somewhat unrecognized life.

ExplorersWeb: You must have taken hundreds of photos, how do you which one to use on the cover?

Adrian: It’s a large book, part coffee table and part adventure, packed with superb pictures, most of which were taken by professional photographer and good friend, Wouter Kingma. Wouter, an outdoor enthusiast himself, joined us for periods on the journey along with the two man film crew from Two Four Productions and took some amazing shots. The cover pic was one such shot, one that summarized the beauty and harshness of this desolate landscape.

ExplorersWeb: How long did it take you to write the book? Where did you do your writing?

Adrian: I wrote Footsteps of Thesiger in 8 months, but it took me another 3.5 months to re-write much of it, edit, and re-edit, with only a light edit from the publishers.

Though this may be deemed quickly by some author’s viewpoints, I struggled to write much until spending two weeks in the Arctic speaking on a cruise ship, where there were minimal distractions – other than a young and energetic show troop! – And I could crack the bulk of it. The remainder was finished off in my UK base in the New Forest in Hampshire.

ExplorersWeb: Ranulph Fiennes, who wrote the foreword, has also a connection with the Arabian Desert...

Adrian: Like myself, Ran has a long affinity with the region from his time serving for the Sultan’s Armed Forces and I first met him when I was serving myself on a two year secondment from the Gurkhas in Salalah, Oman’s southern city. Then he was leading the archeological project to uncover the ‘Lost City of Ubar’, the fabled ‘Atlantis of the Sands’. He was therefore the obvious choice and, having kept in touch and met up a number of times over the years, was delighted to do so - even though he was in the final stages of his winter Antarctic crossing preparations.

ExplorersWeb: You also made a documentary, which was released last year. Where will it be broadcast?

Adrian: The documentary was filmed by award winning filmmaker Alexis Girardet from Two Four Productions of the UK (‘On Thin Ice’, ‘Through Hell and High Water’ and “Harry’s Arctic Heroes”. amongst others). Two Four was under a remit from sponsors Abu Dhabi Media, but the film has been purchased by Discovery Channel and will be broadcast in May 2013.

The expedition started at Salalah, Oman. After 44 days the British explorer, along with Saeed Rashid Al Mesafry and Ghafan Mohammed Al Jabry, rode through Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital, to complete their epic adventure.

Adrian Hayes is the British, UAE based, record-breaking adventurer, speaker, corporate coach and sustainability ambassador. He set a Guinness World Record in 2007 for reaching the Earth's "3 Poles" - walking all the way to the North Pole, South Pole and summiting Mt Everest - in the then shortest period of time in history, becoming only the 15th person ever to achieve the feat. He holds a second Guinness World Record along with Canadian teammates Devon McDiarmid and Derek Crowe, for the Arctic’s longest unsupported kite-skiing expedition in history, the 2009 vertical crossing of the Greenland ice cap.

A former Gurkha Officer and Special Forces reservist in the British Army, Adrian, an Arabic speaker, is a highly experienced desert operator having served in the deserts of Southern Oman during his military career.


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