The Ships of The Desert

Camels have played an important role in the lives of the Omani people for generations.  The camels provide transport, milk, food and entertainment.  In the Modern South Arabian languages and in Arabic, there are many words for camels which are used to describe their colour, sex and stages of life, highlighting their importance in the culture.

In the Arab world in general, camels are called ‘The ships of the deserts’ because they can make long journeys across the country and to remote areas.  Camels have been given special status in Oman and are looked after by The Royal Camel Corps.  The organisation keeps records of the camels, including their type and ancestry.  As well as being an important resource for their meat and milk, camel racing is also a popular form of entertainment in Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the Arabian Gulf.

The picture below shows a camel with its brand mark.  Camels are branded so people know which tribe they belong to.  Branding is done on the left hand side of the animal’s face or neck.  The brand in the picture shows that the camel belongs to the Samodah sub-branch of the Mehri tribe.  The photograph was taken in the Jerbeeb near Salalah, Dhofar, after the monsoon season in late September 2010.

Catalogue number: MCC/OmanIm/2017/1

Camel milk is more popular than cow milk in Oman and is known for its froth, which can be seen in the image below.  The picture shows camel milk being drunk on the central plateau in late September 2010.  The second image shows a camel being milked in the same location.  In Dhofar, only men milk cows and camels.  Among the Mahrah, women milk goats, but among some other tribes, all milking animals are milked by men.

Camel milk being drunk. catalogue number: MCC/OmanIm/2017/2
A camel in Oman being milked. catalogue number: MCC/OmanIm/2017/3

The Yemeni Landscape

Yemen has a beautiful and varied landscape, with the land being made up of mountains, deserts and coastal regions.  The mountains in the centre and west of the country are home to the highest peak in the Arabian Peninsula, Jabal an-Nabi Shu’ayb, standing tall at 12,336 feet (3760 meters). The country’s landscape means that the climate varies from region to region. In the east is the desert area known as the ‘Empty Quarter’ which is very hot, where temperatures can reach over 50 degrees Celsius during the day, and years can go by without any rainfall. The coastal region is hot and humid, whilst the western and central highlands are cooler and the temperatures can fall below freezing in winter.

There are no lakes or rivers in the country. Instead, there are dry riverbeds called wadis which are filled when it rains. The lack of permanent rivers can lead to a shortage of fresh water. The rainy season in Yemen lasts from April to July or August. This rainfall helps with the growing of crops in the country as the rain runs down the mountains into the valleys.


The images in this blog were taken near the city of Taiz in the highlands of Yemen and give an idea of the landscape of the region.