National Geographic : 1956 Jul
104 Banked at the Oars Like Galley Slaves, Returning Pearlers Row into Dibai Harbor Hardships and privations of the summer-long pearling season lie behind. The high-spirited crew hauls down the sail and rows the last two or three miles toward the docks where cheering crowds await. I cannot escape a feeling of regret as our sojourn in Trucial Oman draws to a close. My wife and I are seated at the porch of our tent in the desert, where I have been taking advantage of a holiday to write this article. A breeze whips sand from the dunes. Pots Simmer on Fragrant Wood Our Arab companions have broken their circle around the campfire and are at prayer, leaving us to guard their beloved coffeepots, which are simmering on sweet-smelling ghadha wood. At our side perch hooded falcons, each on its own stool stuck in the sand. But thought of the uncertain future in trudes into the restfulness of our desert sur roundings. What sort of change lies ahead for these little principalities of the Trucial Coast? How long will the ancient pattern of life continue unchanged? Trucial Oman is still a land without bound aries in the Western sense. What need has there been to divide waterless, uninhabited deserts? But today the prospect of oil has caused each of the seven rulers to look to his frontiers.* The final delimitation of their domains will be a difficult and delicate matter. And should any of the sheikdoms reap the riches that come from "liquid gold" lying beneath either the sands or the seas, the present mode of life will change drastically. Until then, the pattern of existence on the former Pirate Coast remains as ever before unhurried and unchanged by the passage of time. * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Calypso Explores for Underwater Oil," by Capt. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, August, 1955; and "Troubled Waters East of Suez," by Capt. Ernest M. Eller, April, 1954.