Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (Travel Classic)” as Want to Read:
The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (Travel Classic)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (Travel Classic)

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  130 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In 1934, a 42-year-old Englishwoman named Freya Stark arrived in the British-governed Protectorate of Aden on a singular mission: to locate the fabled, long-lost city of Shabwa.

Located on the high Hadramaut plateau in what is now Yemen, Shabwa was renowned in antiquity as the source of frankincense. Little visited even then, it was also thought to be a particularly forbid

Published (first published 1936)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Southern Gates of Arabia, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Southern Gates of Arabia

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 25, 2016 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Freya Stark was a remarkable woman who travelled throughout the Middle East in the 1930’s. She was fluent in Arabic and Arabian history and wrote many popular travel books at a time when women did not travel alone. When travelling through Yemen, she hired members of local Bedouin tribes to guide her to historical regions, old villages, and along the ancient spice routes. The Hadhramaut region of Yemen is the home of the rare Frankincense tree from the species Boswellia. This is a humorous and de ...more
I think this pretty much says it all:
"On the occasion of the arrival of the free and respected one, and of her honouring the court of our excellent school, I rise to welcome her happy visit to the abode of the noble Sharifs, the country of Al Ahqaf, the place of residence of our venerated ancestors and that where our forebears were born. Her spirit and firm courage are show to us inasmuch as she is the first woman to visit the province of Hadhramaut alone, without any companion of her own sex or
Nov 24, 2009 Roxanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, travel
In the early 1930s, Stark, a single British woman, traveled through southern Arabia alone, visiting country that few other Europeans had seen, particularly few women. This might sound incredibly dangerous, and it probably was, but Stark was helped along by her passion for Arabic history and her genuine interest in the people she met (as well as near fluency in Arabic, as far as I can tell), as well as her poise, charm, humor, and sense of adventure. She befriends bedouins and sheiks alike, as we ...more
Tia Gonzales
I go for romantic imagery, none here. Just a matter-of-fact recounting of where she went, alone of course, because BROWN AND BLACK MEN ARE NOT HUMAN.I prefer 1 eloquent phrase to pages of 'and then I went here' and "I saw this'. The magic of the environment seemed to have escaped her, not unlike those today who race from place to place, photographing where they've been and posting it on Facebook. TE Lawrence described the desert in 7 Pillars of Wisdom which was also dull in part, but the magic o ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-the-world
I learned of Freya Stark when I read Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell, when he was the Minister of Information in Cyprus. Stark was building a house in Cyprus, and was known to take off at a moments notice to parts unknown. So when I found this book, I knew I had to read it.
The Southern Gates of Arabia was published in 1936, and became an instant bestseller. Stark traveled to the Hadhramaut region (now part of Yemen) in 1934 to find the lost city of Shabwa, which is along the ancient
Aug 17, 2008 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Later writers have snide things to say about her, but which other woman was riding about without a man to protect her in the back country east of Yemen back in the 1930's. And, she is a literate writer. Thus the 4 stars.

It's a quick read, but it is soooo personal, in contrast to all the geo-political tomes of today.
Yes, she heavily edited the friction out of this, but it's a great glimpse inside the closed society of the emirates area when significant remnants of the ancient economy and society
Nov 09, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe 3.5 stars, as I did feel my eyes glazing over from time to time, but generally I really enjoyed both her account, as well as the opportunity to read a description of a Middle Eastern region from a historical perspective.
Robert Zoltan
Jul 06, 2016 Robert Zoltan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-writers
Beautifully written, engrossing, and poignant, with great insights into life and human character. This book proves that violence is not required for a great adventure, and that the smallest details of life create a sweepingly romantic story.
Feb 12, 2011 Yrab rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Especially suited to the 1980's in Manchester during a slow burning heroin habituation. Somehow nodding out didn't spoil a thing...
Aug 31, 2009 Juanita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another intrepid traveller
in Araby. I so love these
people and the luck of living
when they did and the worlds
they got to see.
Diana rated it it was amazing
Feb 09, 2008
Jen rated it it was amazing
Aug 16, 2016
Karen rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2009
Jedimentat rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2013
Anna Leisa S
Anna Leisa S rated it really liked it
Jun 12, 2007
Isidora rated it really liked it
Jan 19, 2011
Emerson Grossmith
Emerson Grossmith rated it liked it
Apr 17, 2016
Leith rated it liked it
Dec 01, 2015
Max Carmichael
Max Carmichael rated it it was amazing
Mar 15, 2012
Omoy rated it really liked it
May 01, 2012
Laurie rated it liked it
Dec 10, 2010
Marty rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2012
icaro rated it it was amazing
Oct 05, 2015
Emily rated it really liked it
Aug 30, 2007
Eilidh rated it really liked it
Mar 23, 2013
Mark Schwartz
Mark Schwartz rated it liked it
Jan 03, 2016
Lescribbler rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2013
William Carrier
William Carrier rated it really liked it
Feb 08, 2015
Meg rated it it was amazing
Aug 11, 2013
Kristjan Wager
Kristjan Wager rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2009
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark
  • Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea
  • The Marsh Arabs
  • Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah
  • Eothen
  • Arabia
  • Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus
  • Prospero's Cell
  • A Visit to Don Otavio
  • رحلات داوتي في الجزيرة العربية
  • Trieste and The Meaning of Nowhere
  • Passenger to Teheran
  • In the Shadow of Islam
  • From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East
  • News From Tartary
  • The Desert and the Sown: The Syrian Adventures of the Female Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia
  • Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars
Freya Stark was born in Paris, where her parents were studying art. Her mother, Flora, was an Italian of Polish/German descent; her father, Robert, an English painter from Devon.

In her lifetime she was famous for her experiences in the Middle East, her writing and her cartography. Freya Stark was not only one of the first Western women to travel through the Arabian deserts (Hadhramaut), she often
More about Freya Stark...

Share This Book