Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf, Consul of Najd and Hijaz in Damascus and the Albert Harris imports: a new find

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 20th, 2015 in Saudi

This fascinating article (in Arabic) reveals that King Abd al-Aziz Aal Saud, upon founding the Kingdom of Najd, Hijaz and its dependencies (which in 1932 became the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) entrusted the responsibility of representing his Kingdom before other Arab countries to members of the Agheylat corporation (see below about them). This makes a lot of sense since the Agheylat had developed deep commercial ties with many of these countries, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, where they maintained trading offices.

Sheykh Fawzan al-Sabiq, the King’s first ambassador to Egypt (in 1926), appears as the most famous of these early Agheylat diplomats, according to the article. His brother Abd al-Aziz was indeed a horse merchant established in Egypt. Other early Saudi diplomats from the Agheylat include Mansur al-Rumayh, Hamoud al-Barrak, al-Rabdi and al-‘Usaymi.

The most pleasant surprise, and one that will enable us to shed further light on the history of several desert-bred Arabians imported to the USA, is the inclusion of the name of Muhammad Eid al-Rawwaf among these diplomats hailing from Agheylat families. He appears as the governor of Jeddah in the 1930s, before being appointed as the Saudi representative to Baghdad. He belonged to an influential family of Agheylat from Buraydah.

Arabian horse historians will remember a “Mohamed Ed El Rouaf”, Consul of the Sultanate of Hijaz and Najd as the signatory of the export papers of the four imports of Albert Harris, *Nufoud, *Dahma, *Tairah, and *Samirah, in 1932, and as the registered breeder of *Sunshine. I was able to find his trace online, in several places. This newspaper article identifies members of the Rawwaf family as the King’s agents in “Sham” (Greater Syria), meaning Lebanon and Syria. This article references a book which contains a picture of the members of the first Saudi study-abroad group of students, and it includes Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf. Finally, a Wikipedia entry identifies Muhammad Eid al-Rawwaf as the King’s Consul in Damascus (there was no embassy then since Syria was not an independent country but a French protectorate), but does not provide dates. Finally, I found the gold prize: the Arabic text of a letter, published in Amin Rihani’s book “Correspondence between King Abd al-Aziz Aal Saud and Amin Rihani” (Dar Amwaaj, Beirut, 2001). Here is the text of the letter (quick English translation mine):

In the name of God the Merciful the Compassionate

To the dearest friend, the honorable Mr. Amin Effendi Al-Rihani

Salutations and respects; after which, I extend to you wishes of health, strength and prosperity, and send you the attached three certificates concerning the mares Samirah, Dahna, and Nufoud, after I finalized them and sealed them; the reason for my delay in sending them to you stems from the difficulty of getting the French Consulate to stamp them. I am also returning to you the four certificates that came from the High Diwan in your name. Please send my regards to Mr. Yussef Effendi, and to his son the writer, and to the family, and I conclude my message by thanking you for your brotherly feelings, please accept the expression of my utmost respect.

Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf

Damascus, 18 Jumada al-Awwal 1351 H, corresponding to 18 September 1932.

I wonder where the actual certificates are. I would not be surprised if they were among his family papers in Rihani’s museum in the village of Freikeh, Lebanon. Below, a picture of Muhammad Eid Al-Rawwaf (in Arab dress), surrounded by Consuls of Spain, Italy, Austria and Belgium in Damascus, at the reception held by the French High Commissioner in Damascus (who is the military man in white, to the right) on the occasion of the French National Holiday, July 14th, 1930. The picture is from the Emirati newspaper Al-Bayan.



“Fahad Abdallah the Agheyleh Sheykh”

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 20th, 2015 in Saudi

Unpublished excerpts from Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals for the early part of the year 1889, obtained from the Wentworth Bequest at the British Library courtesy of Bill Cooke at the International Museum of the Horse include several references to a “Fahad Abdallah, the Agheyleh Sheykh”; he is identified as a merchant who supplied Prince Ahmad Pasha Kamal, Ahmed Bey Sennari and others with desert-bred Arabian horses, on at least one occasion, in 1889, when Lady Anne saw and liked some of these horses. Fahad is also the one who obtained the stallion Koheilan El Mossen for Sennari, perhaps as part of that same batch of horses in 1889.

A Journal entry from that period mentions Fahad Abdallah as being from the Qassim town of Buraydah, the center of the Agheylat caravan trade network. The Agheylat were a corporation of camel, horse, sheep, ghee, cloth and food staples merchants from Central Arabia, who operated a dense and active network of caravan trading spanning Central Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Iraq and Egypt, with hubs in Baghdad, Damascus, Kuwait, and even Bombay. They were from settled families from the Central Arabian area of Qassim, most of them being from either Buraydah or ‘Unayzah, and many tracing their roots to the settled Tamim tribe, while others were from the Shammar, the Anazah and others. In another entry, Lady Anne reported a story her stud helper Zeyd al-Mutayri told her about members of the Ibn Saud family killing Abd al-‘Aziz, Fahad’s grand-father, who was the ruler (amir) of Buraydah. 

All these elements helped me identify Fahad as Fahad son of Abdallah son of Abd al-Aziz son of Muhammad son of Abdallah son of Hasan from Aal (family) Abu ‘Alyan, from the ‘Anaqir clan of the Beni Tamim tribe. His grand-father Abd al-Aziz was indeed the ruler of Buraydah from 1827 to 1860, and was killed by Mohammad son of Faysal ibn Turki Aal Saud in 1860. Mehanna Aba al-Khail, from a rival family of Agheylat took over the governorship of Buraydah, which became a satellite of the Wahhabi state.

Article: Rancho San Ignacio: A look back by RJ Cadranell in Arabian Visions

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 19th, 2015 in Egypt

I enjoy going back to old article from Arabian Visions which Michael Bowling and RJ Cadranell wrote in the 1990s. Here is such an article by RJ Cadranell on a look back at Richard Pritzlaff’s Rancho San Ignacio program of Egyptian Arabians.

Book: ‘Bedouin Weaving of Saudi Arabia and its Neighbours’ by Joy Totah Hilden

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 14th, 2015 in General

If you are interested in weaving and textiles, as well as in Bedouins, then this is apparently the definite book on the subject. I just bought a copy.




Happy Holidays everyone

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 25th, 2014 in General

Happy holidays to all the friends and readers of Daughters of the Wind around the world. May the new year bring you good health, happiness and peace of mind.

A precise date pinned down for Shahwan founder of the Dahman Shahwan strain

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 13th, 2014 in General

I mentioned earlier that Shahwan of Dahman Shahwan fame was an historical character. I am now happy to report that I found a solid, dated historical reference to this Shahwan in a book by Mamluk-era chronicler Abu al-Mahasin Taj al-Din Abd al-Baqi ibn Abd al-Majid al-Yamani (born in Mecca in 1281 AD — died in Damascus in 1343 AD). The book is called “Bajhat al-Zaman fi Tarikh al-Yaman“, in short, “History of Yemen”. It is a chronicle of historical events in Yemen before and during the time of the author, who appears to have lived at the same time as Shahwan.

The mention of Shahwan of ‘Abidah (of Qahtan) occurs in page 95 of the book, under the events of the year 678 Hijri (1279 AD), under the title of “Account of Muzaffar’s takeover of Dhofar, Hadramaut and the city of Shibam“.
This Muzaffar is King al-Muzaffar Abu al-Mansur Shams al-Din Yusuf, second king of the Rasulid dynasty of Yemen. Muzaffar ruled Yemen and its dependencies from 1249 to 1295 AD. The account is as follows (my translation from Arabic):
Account of Muzaffar’s takeover of Dhofar, Hadramaut and the city of Shibam: the cause for this was that the warships of Salem son of Idris al-Habudhi raided the port of Aden, and al-Muzaffar took offense to this, so he went upon the port of Aden, and readied armies on both land and sea, and three army sections marched: a section at sea, and in it were most of the footsoldiers, and with them were al-Azwaad; a section with four hundred horsemen under Shams al-Din Azdamur al-Muzaffari [a formal title follows for this military commander], which followed the coastline alongside their ships; and the third section had the two Sheykhs, Abdallah ibn ‘Amru, and Shahwan ibn Mansur al-‘Abidi, and these were two hundred horsemen from the horsemen of the Arab nomads, and they followed the Hadramaut route; and the three armies met near Dhofar, and went after Salem, so when they drew near the city, Salem went out to face them, and lined up [his troops], and they met, and the battled resulted in his killing and that of a large number of his army; and this was on Saturday the 27th of the month of Rajab of the year six hundred and seventy eight“. 
From this we can conclude that Shahwan ibn Mansur al-‘Abidi (i.e., of the ‘Abidah tribe of Qahtan) was alive and young enough to lead his Bedouins in battle in the year 1279 AD in support of the king of Yemen. This makes the strain of Dahman Shahwan that is known after Shahwan, the oldest attested Arabian horse strain by far.
 A modern view of the historic city of Shibam in the Yemen Province Hadramaut, which conquered by king Muzaffar aided by Shahwan in 1279 AD.

‘Arar ibn Shahwan and his Dahman stallion, from Lady Anne’s visit to the Tarabin Bedouins

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 12th, 2014 in Arabia

During her February 1881 visit to the Tarabin Bedouins of the Sinai and Negev/Naqab deserts on the North Western fringes of Arabia, on her way from Cairo to Jerusalem, Lady Anne Blunt reported this very interesting Bedouin tale:

” Story of the horse that came out of the sea. Its son from a Dahmeh Kehileh mare Meshur belonged to Arar and from him 5 mares, the originals of the strains of (1) Kebeyshan, (2) Seglawi, (3) Makludi [?], (4) Jaythani (Jeytani) (5) Tueyfi. Dahman Shahwan is better than Em Amr of Ranat el Awaj he spoke as of awaj el araqib (crooked hooks) whence ‘Om Argub’ — he never heard of Doheymeh Nejib. […] Maneqy and Jilfan are by themselves.”

The account is partial and confused, either because Lady Anne did not understand all what she was being told, or because she did not write down the entire story in her Journals. It is also possible these are only excerpts of a longer journal entry that was not published in full. Be it what it may, it is possible, with some effort, to disentangle the various elements of that story from each other, and try to make sense of each one. There are three interwoven elements within this account: the first is about the origin of some strains; the second is about the Dahman strain and its branches; the third is about two Bedouin legends, that of the horse from the sea and that of Banat al-Awaj. It is probable that Lady Anne’s Bedouin interlocutor mixed a number of stories together in a single account, or more possibly, that the conversation was moving seamlessly from one topic to another, as many Bedouin oral accounts usually do. [There is also one at least one typo in this entry: instead of “Ranat el awaj” read “Banat el awaj” — the daughters of Awaj.]


The Arar in Lady Anne’s account is Prince ‘Arar son of Shahwan al-Dayghami al-Qahtani, the leader of the Dayaghim clan of the ‘Abidah tribe of Qahtan. The semi-legendary, semi-factual story of the eventful migration of the Dayaghim under the leadership of ‘Arar from their original home in Wadi Tathlith in South West Saudi Arabia to the highlands of Najd is the subject of a famous epic tale known and recited by Bedouins in gatherings around camp fires.

This folk tale (generically known as “Sirat al-Dayaghim” or the Epic of the Dayaghim) includes a beautiful and emotional poem by ‘Arar (in Arabic only unfortunately) lamenting the loss of his entire clan in a flash flood that destroyed their camp while they were asleep at night; the story goes that one night, ‘Arar felt that his horse Meshur (yes! see Lady Anne’s account above) was stomping the ground and neighing in signs of stress; sensing something unusual, ‘Arar mounted him and ran upstream of the wadi (a dry riverbed); there he saw a torrent of water racing towards him at great speed; he turned back to alert his sleeping clan, but the flood waters were faster and overran them and drowned them all; he was the sole survivor, thanks to his stallion’s alertness and sixth sense, and he composed that famous poem in lament.

The folk tale hence confirms the part of Lady Anne’s account that “Meshur … belonged to ‘Arar“. The part that has Meshur being the son of the horse that came out of the sea is obviously a legend (more on this legend later); the part that has Meshur being the son of a Dahmeh Kehileh is more plausible. Here’s why:

The father of this ‘Arar is none else than the Shahwan after whom the strain of Dahman Shahwan is named. His full name is Shahwan ibn Mansur ibn Daygham al-Qahtani, the leader of the ‘Abidah tribe of Qahtan when they were in Wadi Tathlith. This Shahwan is a well attested historical figure (more on this later too). So if Shahwan was the owner of the original Dahmah (known as Dahmah Shahwaniyah after him), then it is likely that his son ‘Arar’s stallion, this Meshur, is from the female line of that Dahmah.

I would be very curious to learn whether the relationship between Meshur (‘Arar ibn Shahwan’s stallion) and the Dahmeh Kehileh (a mare from the original horses of Shahwan, ‘Arar’s father) is a Tarabin interpretation of the Epic of the Dayahghim or whether it occurs as such in the accounts of the Epic itself. Perhaps there are published accounts of the Epic of the Dayaghim and if so I would like to get my hands on of these. If so, that would be earlier account of the Dahman Shahwan strain.

That the Tarabin Bedouins should know the story of ‘Arar and that they should be able to make the link between ‘Arar’s stallion and the Dahman Shahwan horses is not surprising. These Tarabin, even if now living in the Sinai and the Negev deserts, originally came from Wadi Turabah (east of Hijaz and west of Najd, indeed right at the border of the two provinces), which is near Wadi Tathlith, the home of the Dayaghim. The Tarabin (prounounced Trabin) take their name after Wadi Turabah (pronounced Trabah), and as such were originally a Central Arabian tribe, perhaps a branch of the al-Buqum Bedouins, the current dwellers of Wadi Turabah.

More later, as I get further information from primary sources, the brief and garbled account of Lady Anne being a secondary source at best, albeit one with extremely interesting and promising pointers.


A photo of the Kuhaylan al-Krush stallion Mokhtar when he was in Syria

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 11th, 2014 in Syria

Basil Jadaan recently postly this beautiful photo of Mokhtar, the desert bred Kuhaylan al-Krush stallion from Syria, which Basil owned for several years before sending him to France.




Exporting horses to Europe

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 8th, 2014 in General

Anyone knows how much it costs to export horses from America to Europe by plane?

Treff-Haven Sabeel, the lifeline

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 8th, 2014 in Egypt

This stallion, Treff Haven Sabeel (Treff haven Emir x Bint Lebleba by GAF Mosaad)  is, in my opinion, a ray of hope for US-based Egyptian breeding. I was saying on Facebook that such strong couplings, short backs, high, prominent withers and exceptionally strong shoulders have all but disappeared from New Egyptian horses. That’s because the halter shows for which most of these horses or their recent ancestors were bred do not take these primary qualities into consideration. That these qualities should still be found in Sabeel is reassuring.

He happens to have no lines to Nazeer. Not that Nazeer was a bad horse, on the contrary; it’s just that the use that was made of Nazeer sons, grandsons and great-grandsons was not conducive to the perpetuation of the above-mentioned qualities. Just look at the Serenity horses. There is plenty of Nazeer in there, but the horses were bred differently and used for different purposes.

Photo by owner Kate from Van Alma Arabians.

Treff Haven Sabeel

On the split within the Shammar in the XXth century

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 6th, 2014 in General

I finally have the answer to a lingering question about the leadership of the Shammar Bedouins in North Arabia.

Some twenty years ago, when asking about the ownership of a number of lines of desert bred Arabians, I was confused by references to at least four contemporary “Sheykhs of the Shammar” within the leading Jarba family.  The Kuhaylan Krush were the horses of Mayzar Abd al-Mushin al-Jarba, Sheykh of the Shammar; the Shuwayman Sabbah were the horses of Mashaal Pasha son of Faris al-Jarba, also Sheykh of the Shammar; and the Hadban Enzahi were the horses of Dham al-Hadi, also Sheykh of the Shammar; the Saqlawi Jadran adn the Dahman Amer were the horses of Ajil al-Yawir al-Jarba, also Sheykh of the Shammar. All four had lived around the same time. What was going on?

Later I came to understand that this had to do with political splits within the leading family, which were caused or at least encouraged by the Ottoman Turks, then the British and the French, but I never had the full picture. Here it is now, in the clarity of intelligence report such as this one published by the French army in 1943:

“Autrefois, lors de leur unite, les Chammar ont beaucoup inquiete les autorites turques qui n’ont pu avoir la paix avec eux, qu’en les divisant en deux groupes, les Zor et les Khorsa. Sfoug Pacha, chef des Chammar, fut pendu par les Turcs en 1840; Abdul Kerim, fils du precedent, subit en 1870, le sort de son pere, apres avoir mis Mossoul a sac. Des 1878, la tribu divisee en deux troncons n’inquieta plus les autorites; les frees d’Abdul Kerim se partagerent alors le commandement; Fares prit le commandement des Chammar des Zor et Farhan celui des Chammar Khorsa. Depuis lors, une seconde division se superposa a celle-ci; la frontiere syro-irakienne divisa, au point de vue politique, la tribu Chammar, en Chammar d’Irak et Chammar de Syrie, groupements comprenant a la fois des Chammar des Zor et des Chammar Khorsa. En Syrie, Mechaal Pacha Djerba, fils de Fares, notable Chammar des Zor, prit a la mort de son pere, le commandement de tous les Chammar de Syrie; en Irak, son cousin Dahma el Hadi (arriere-petit-fils de Farhan) notable Khorsa, prit apres approbation des autorites britanniques, le commandement des Chammar d’Irak; Daham el Hadi succedait ainsi a son grand-pere El Aci. En 1922, Daham el Hadi expulse d’Irak se refugia en Syrie ou, au grand mecontentement de Mechaal Pacha, il se vit octroyer le commandement des Shammar Khorsa. Il fut remplace en Irak par son cousin Ajil el Yaouer. En Syrie, Mechaal Pacha entra des 1934 en conflict avec le gouvernement pour une question de perception d’impot. Il passa en Irak avec quelques tentes. Destitue de son commandement, il fut remplace le 7 avril 1934 par son cousin, le Cheik Mizar, petit-fils d’Abdul Kerim. Actuellement une grande animosite reigne parmi tous les chefs Chammar. Mechaal Pacha Djerba cherche a reprendre son commandement en intriguant contre le Cheikh Mizar et Daham el Hadi alors qu’en Iraq, Wathan, fils de Faycal, essaie de supplanter Sfoug (fils de Ajil el Yaouer).”

I will have more to say on this later.


Pulcher Ibn Reshan

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 6th, 2014 in General

Jackson Hensley sent my this recent photo of his 2002 Kuhaylan Hayfi stallion (Davenport lines) Pulcher Ibn Reshan (Triermain CF x Aniq el Bedu by Iliad). There is something of the look of a wild desert animal in his eyes, that same look you see in old photos of desert birds, gazelles and young camels.



Old photos of 1986 Bahraini stallion Mlolshaan Hager Solomon

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 in Bahrain

Bill Biel just sent me these two older photos of his Bahraini stallion Mlolshaan Hager Solomon, which I thought I’d share with you.




Ginger’s colt has a new home

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 1st, 2014 in Bahrain, USA

I am happy to report that Chris and Kara Yost of Bar Lazy Y Ranch are the new owners of my DA Ginger Moon’s young black colt by Serr Serabaar. The colt, who will be named “Twin Turbo” will be entered in endurance racing, and you will hopefully see him competing in the Tevis Cup in the coming years. Chris is a three times Tevis Cup finisher with three different horses, including on the colt’s full sister, DA Ebony Moon.

By the way, his dam DA Ginger Moon is in foal to Mlolshaan Hager Solomon for a mid 2015 colt.

Not one … but four books

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 1st, 2014 in General

gleaned today from L’Orientaliste library in Cairo, all foundational French ethnographic studies from the 1930s:

— Victor Muller’s “En Syrie avec les Bedouins: les tribus du desert” (1931)

— Albert de Boucheman’s “Une petite cite caravaniere: Sukhne” (a little gem)

— Albert de Boucheman’s “Materiel de la vie Bedouine recueilli chez les Arabes Seba’a”

— and the sweetest surprise of all (because they could not find it in their vaults last time dropped by): Robert Montagne’s “Contes poetiques Bedouins recueillis chez les Shammar de Gezire”. This one is a lucky find.

I feel so blessed.



On the Tarabin Bedouins in Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 23rd, 2014 in General

One of the most interesting passages of Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals and Correspondence is her visit to the Bedouin Tarabin tribe of the Sinai peninsula and the Negev desert, during her and Wilfrid Blunt’s crossing from Cairo to Jerusalem in February 1881, and her account of their camel and horse-related traditions; here is on the camels, to set the stage for what will be more than one blog entry, and I will have to say more on the horses and legends associated to them:

“A delul [female camel] or hajin [male camel] becomes asil like the English thoroughbred. Five generations of a thoroughbred sire are considered sufficient among Ayeydeh, Shuaga, Terabin, Naazeh [in reality Maazeh] and perhaps Howeytat, though as the last touch on the confines of [Arabian Peninsula Bedouin tribes of] Harb and Sherarat they ma others notions”. [February 11th, 1881]

A lot of the tribes mentioned above appear in this map of the area in 1908:

1908 map of Bedouin areas of Sinai, Negeb, Jordan, and North West Saudi Arabia

The Tarabin today number around half a million, spread across Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan. In Egypt, they are mostly present in the Sinai, of which they are the largest Bedouin group, but also the Suez Canal cities and the Cairo suburb of Maadi (where I live), where they settled early in the XXth century in the area known as Arab al-Maadi, as well as in other areas around Cairo.  In Israel, they are the largest group of Negev Bedouins (currently numbering 170,000), and they are also present in the Palestinian Territories (in the Gaza Strip, in Hebron) and in Jordan. In a nutshell, they were all over that desert area before there were borders to speak of, and before these had become some of the most contentious borders in world history.

The Tarabin are originally Buqum Bedouins, who left their traditional area of Turabah, in Western Saudi Arabia (east of Mecca) between 300 and 700 years ago, migrated northwards, and settled in Sinai and the Negev/Naqab and became known after the their town of origin (Turabah –> Tarabin).


“In the interior there are the Beni Huseyn … who catch wild horses”

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 22nd, 2014 in General

During the Blunt’s visit to Jeddah around Christmas of 1880,

“Wilfrid has met a man who came from Sana and told him that at some distance from Sana in the interior there are the Beni Husayn, Mohammed Bedouins who catch wild horses. They live in the district called Jofr [correction: it’s actually Jof] el Yemen and are very ‘adroit’ in riding….” [Lady Anne Blunt Journals and Correspondence, December 24, 1880]

I am in Sana (San’aa) the capital of Yemen for two weeks, and although I am locked up in my work’s office and adjoining guest house for security reasons, it is the occasion for me too tell you about these Bedouins of Yemen:

As Lady Anne wrote, these are the Dhu Husayn, an offshoot of the Dhu Mohammed, who hail from the large Yemeni tribal confederation of Bakil. Their tribal area is in Jawf/Jof el Yaman (the reference to Yemen is to differentiate it from the other Jawf/Jof of North, which is in Northern Saudi Arabia, just to the South of Jordan), to the north east of Sana.

My colleague (a Senior Water Specialist at the World Bank office in Sana), Naif Abu Luhoum, is the from the chieftain family of the Dhu Husayn, and a nephew of the tribe’s leader, Sinan Abu Luhoum, who is at about 95 is still alive and retired in Cairo. The leading family was called “Abu Luhoum” (father of meats) for its legendary generosity and hospitality, as meats — a contrast with the Bedouin diet of camel milk and dates — were always served to guests.

Tomorrow, Naif will introduce me to one of the tribe’s historians (who also happens to manage the National Water Institute here) and I am going to ask him about this wild horses business. I am curious to see if any of that lore has survived well into the XXIst century.

Jawf al-Yaman



The Naseef House in Jeddah in Lady Anne’s Journals

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 22nd, 2014 in General

From Lady Anne Blunt’s Journals, December 15th, 1880, during her trip to Jeddah:

“In the afternoon we called first on Omar Nasif. The chestnut mare still stands outside the little yard near the house…”

Here are modern images of the Naseef house, one of the very few buildings still standing from the old down-town of Jeddah, which has all been razed to the ground, to give way to modern building in the 1960s (yet another beautiful Arab city destroyed…)

For an inside tour of the Naseef house, and a  view of the yard where that mare in Lady Anne’s Journals, see this blog entry here. The house as in other old Jeddah houses in apparently made of coral (yes, the stuff in the reefs) and of wood imported from what is today Indonesia, a legacy of the glorious (and little known) history of Jeddah as a cross-roads of trade between Egypt, East Africa and South East Asia (like Mukalla in Yemen, like Mocha, like Aden after that).

Naseef house

New book: “Tiaret, le reve algerien”

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 21st, 2014 in Algeria

French equine librarian, collector and breeder, Philippe Deblaise just published the book “Tiaret, le reve Algerien” that will add tremendous value to the literature on Arabian horses, by pulling together the knowledge available about the glorious breeding program of the Arabian horse Stud of Tiaret, in Algeria.

This stud was founded by the French in the 1870s, when France was the colonial power in Algeria, and relied exclusively on stallions and mares imported from desert-bred Arabians from Arabia. This stud is unique in the world as no stallion born outside desert Arabian was ever used at stud until Algerian independence in the 1960s.  Click on the flyer (in French) to enlarge it.

Tiaret le Reve Algerien


Firm date of death of Hakim ibn Mhayd

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 10th, 2014 in Syria

It was in early 1928 according to French army officer Victor Muller in his book “En Syrie avec les Bedouins”. Hakim was the leader of the Fad’aan Bedouins when Davenport visited in 1906.

Muller is a most reliable source since he was the military and intelligence commander of the “Bedouin country” (the part of Syria inhabited by Bedouins, from Jordan to Turkey and eastwards to Iraq) for several years. Among his feats was the peace treaty between the Fad’aan and the Shammar and the Bedouin conferences of Palmyra and Bu Kamal in the mid-1920s.

Muller’s headquarters were in Deyr el-Zor.

Preston Dyer Photo Collection now online on International Museum of the Horse website

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 5th, 2014 in General

Check it out here. By the way, the Homer Davenport collection is there too. Sample below, taken in the Cairo souk.

“En Syrie avec les Bedouins”

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 5th, 2014 in Syria

Today was one of those days when you receive a bottle you threw in the oceans of your memories ten years ago.

Back in 2004, I made a note about a rare book I have long wanted to read or get a hold of. It’s French Army Commandant Victor Muller’s “En Syrie avec les Bedouins: les Tribus du Desert” (Paris, 1931). It’s a complete account of nomadic life in Syria in the early 30s, with references to horse-breeding, strains, and histories of battles during which horses were acquired.

In my 2004 note, I was saying that only two copies of that book could be found for sale: one at a bookshop in Nice, France (which turned out to have closed); and another at L’Orientaliste bookshop in Cairo. I left it at that.

Yesterday, I found this note, and this morning I entered L’Orientaliste, and asked them where they still had it. They did. I bought it and sent it for binding, as it’s in pretty bad shape. I still can’t believe I bought it, and that I will be able to read it soon (and share it with you). What a treasure.

El-Haml, 1967 ‘Ubayyan stallion in the USA, then Germany

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 5th, 2014 in Saudi

Yesterday, Lee Oelllerich sent me these photos of the 1967 ‘Ubayyan stallion El-Haml (El Hamdan x Al Fellujah by Al Felluje) at 3 years old. What a horse, and what a combination of good horses. These BLUE STARs can surely improve any stock, Arabian or not, Al Khamsa or not. Click on the photos to enlarge them. Lee tells me El-Haml was a successful Race and Endurance horse who left for Germany in 1980, and ran his last flat race two weeks before exportation at age thirteen.

El Haml 3

El Haml 2

El Haml


Ibn Naqadan of Aal Murra: who he was

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 4th, 2014 in Saudi

He was of course the owner of the “mare of Naqadan”, a Dahmah Shahwaniyah bred by Abdallah ibn Khalifah of Bahrain, which went to Abbas Pasha and is the tail female for ‘Azz, ‘Aziz, Sahab, Nasr (Kasida’s sire) and others. She is well documented here in the AK Roster. Together with the mare of Ibn Aweyde, she is one of the only mares mentioned in the Abbas Pascha Manuscript with modern day descendants.

According to Muhammad Saud al-Hajri, Ibn Naqadan was ‘Abdallah son of Ali son of ‘Abdallah Naqadan frm the section of Aal Uthbah of the Aal Murra tribe, of which he was the leader at the time of Faysal Ibn Turki before the leadership went into another family.

He was not from the ‘Ajman as Lady Anne mistakenly thought (one of her very few mistakes).

On Aal Murra, everyone should read Donald Powell Cole’s: Nomads of the Nomads: The Al Murra Bedouin of the Empty Quarter.


Ibn Aweyde of Bani Hajar: who he was

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on November 4th, 2014 in Saudi

He was obviously the owner of the bay Dahmah Najibah which went to the Abbas Pasha stud, and was the dam of the stallion Jerboa (“Jerbou”) the sire of Shueyman, who was in turn the sire of Helwa dam of Bint Helwa, etc. etc.His bay Dahmah Najiba of the Ibn Aweyde is one of the very very few horses described int he Abbas Pasha Manuscript with modern descendants today. The information about her is well summarized here in the Al Khamsa Roster.

One minor correction is in order: According to the Al Khamsa Roster, translations of lists of Abbas Pasha horses published by Prince Mohamed Aly Tewfik [p89] confirms the acquisition of a bay Dahmah al-Najib mare, “mother the mare of Sami: owner Ibn-‘Uwaytah, father Duhayman.” It seems to me, reading the relevant entry in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript, that the “mare of Sami”, dam of the bay mare of Ibn Aweyde, should instead read the “mare of Shafi” and that would be her owner Shafi Ibn Shab’an, leader of the Bani Hajar of Qahtan, and the cousin of Ibn Aweyde. This mare is mentioned twice in this as “the mare of Shafi” in this entry. It looks like Prince Mohamed Aly Tewfik or whoever prepared that list of Abbas Pasha horses which he had access to, got the transcription of the names wrong. This can easily happen given the similarity of the way the two names are written.

Now, according to Saudi Arabian researcher Mohammad Saud al-Hajri, Ibn Aweyde is: Rashid, ibn Aweydah, ibn Rashid, ibn Salim, ibn Muhammad, ibn Shab’an, and has descendants alive today, in Qatar, who are Qatari citizens. His cousin Shafi, still according to al-Hajri was: Shafi, ibn Safar, ibn Husayn, ibn Hadi, ibn Shab’an. They are both from the leading clan of Bani Hajar.