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3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  124 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
ARABIA is the story of Jonathan Raban's magic carpet ride through Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan. Not only does it reveal the Arabs and their culture, it also introduces us to a series of memorable individuals.

Much of the book's strength is the author's gift for friendships. He brings us into markets and hotels to glamorous parties and seedy roo
Paperback, 347 pages
Published May 5th 1995 by Picador (first published January 1st 1979)
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(showing 1-30 of 267)
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Linda Jacobs
Mar 15, 2013 Linda Jacobs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A wonderful snapshot of non-Saudi Arabia at the beginning of its explosive growth. Written in the late 70's and published in 1980, it gives an English writer's point of view of the several countries he visited, and contrasts them with the Arab experience in London at the time. Each country had one chapter, and I learned a lot about them through the author's eyes.
Jul 21, 2007 Monica rated it really liked it
It was interesting reading this book, written in 1979, right before arriving in Dubai, which, in less than 30 years, has become completely unrecognizable from Raban's description. Great travel writing.
Barbara Ab
Jan 29, 2016 Barbara Ab rated it it was ok
A really personal travelling notebook of Raban’s stayings in different Arabic countries and cities in the seventies. A bit out of date but interesting as for the comparison with nowadays. I find the writing style of Raban extremely slow and boring most of the time and it is not not an easy reading for a no-English native speaker.
Alex Tilley
Oct 20, 2014 Alex Tilley rated it it was ok
All I remember of this book is a focus on anecdotes of expats living in the middle east, and their fascination with always talking about home and the 'Youkay' as he puts it.
Margaret Leigh
Jul 11, 2014 Margaret Leigh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Jonathan Raban is, in my view, one of the most talented travel writers of our time. I have read Arabia three times already, and would happily read it again.
May 31, 2015 René rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: voyages
Outdated book which is more about the author's encounters with expats living around Saudi Arabia (despite the title, he does not set foot in Arabia) than anything else. We can get a glimpse of how the Saudi cancer (the financing, thanks to Petro-Dollars, of a return to before the Middle Ages) is beginning to set hold in the region, but there is no real attempt to understand the life of the populations residing in what he calls "the labyrinth".
Aug 31, 2014 Zeba rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Raban was among the earliest authors I began to read, at an age when I was probably too immature to fully understand everything he wrote. I read his works with a lot of intrigue, just because I loved the way he combined travel writing with journalism. I recently went back to this book (hence, this revised review) and because I understood it a lot better, I took away a lot more from it. He's a great writer, and Arabia Through the Looking Glass is definitely worth a read.
Dec 08, 2013 Greta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I was familiar with the countries visited, then I might have found his book more interesting. The most interesting place he visited was Yemen, in 1979, a much less Arab country in Arabia, small & mighty. The middle East has not changed much since 1979, and is less interesting than ever for women.
Lynne King
Mar 15, 2013 Lynne King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arabia
I did have this book but I cannot find it. So I've ordered a hardback and will review this later.

It's bizarre but I purchased it because of the title and it covered all of Arabia except Saudi!
Michael Harris
One of his first of the "travel" stories was both enjoyable and interesting based on what we know in 2013.
Nov 18, 2008 Caitlin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
$4 find in a bookshop, loved old glory, great travel writer, hope it's good...
Dec 10, 2010 Jon rated it it was ok
Memoir of a guy's travels that, unexpectedly, featured the father of my friend Catharine Platt.
Peter rated it really liked it
May 25, 2016
Christine Zibas
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May 23, 2016
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Apr 23, 2016
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Apr 07, 2016
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Mar 31, 2016
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Mar 20, 2016
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Peter Wilson rated it it was amazing
Feb 28, 2016
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