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Mapping Arabia

28 January - 21 March 2003

Mapping the Treasures of Arabia looks at the changing face and knowledge of the Arabian Peninsula through maps, photographs and engravings. The exhibition has three main areas of focus: Maps of the Arabian Peninsula; Makkah and Madinah (the Haramain) and the Hajj Pilgrimage; with images of Life in the Desert.

The collections drawn together by Marian Bukhari consist of maps and engravings. The maps range from some of the earliest woodcuts of the late 15th century AD to the end of the 19th century lithographs. The engravings show 18th and 19th century views of the Grand Mosque of Makkah, Madinah and the pilgrimage. Combined with these are engravings illustrating desert life scenes from the same period, some of which were exhibited at the Abdullah Naseef House in Jeddah, 1998.

Contemporary photographs of sites shown in the engravings are displayed along side these. Many of the photographs included are by the Turkish photographer Faruk Aksoy combined with photographs by Peter Sanders, who has recently exhibited at the Saudi Arabian Embassy here in London.

One of the key subjects of the exhibition is an understanding of the Arabian Peninsula from a historical and geographical perspective, reflected in the maps, engravings and photographs. In antiquity the Arabian Peninsula was the land bridge between Asia, Africa and Europe with desert trade routes for goods such as spices, frankincense and myrrh. More recently the Hajj Pilgrimage has reinforced these routes through the region, with Makkah and Madinah obviously bringing the focus on Saudi Arabia.

This exhibition has been made possible by the generous sponsorship of Saudi Aramco.