We invite you to enjoy part 6 of the 12 part Distant Arabia video series. The majority of the film clips are comprised of films taken in Saudi Arabia between 1937 and 1940 by Tom Barger, Les Snyder and Jerry Harriss. They are among the few moving pictures that record that critical and brief moment in the country's history when an ancient pastoral way of life was coming to an abrupt end, to be replaced by an industrial society. Many of the Bedouin depicted had never seen an automobile let alone a movie camera before these men arrived. The herds of camels, once the lifeblood of Bedouin life, would become irrelevant. The dhows of the Gulf replaced by motor launches, the date oases, the very anchor of the Al Hasa economy, would become all but insignificant. All that remains of those days are these flickering images from a time before oil.

Distant Arabia part 6 - Bahrain Holiday 1938 Oil men from Dhahran travel to Bahrain for a weekend. They visit the suq, the vast artesian wells of the island and then assemble for a demonstration of Bahraini stick fighting. The agricultural workers were prohibited from owning weapons so much like the Japanese practitioners of Kendo they evolved a form of fighting using jared sticks cut from the fronds of date palms. As you can see, it is part dance and part martial arts. The bare-chested dancer at 1:37 seems to be most proficient at the art.

More Stories – Tim Barger
ISBN: 978-0988205017
246 pages, $14.95

part 5 part 7