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British Travel-Writing on Oman: Orientalism Reappraised

Introduced by Susan Bassnett

Hilal Said Al-Hajri

This book focuses on the images of Oman in British travel writing from 1800 to 1970. In texts that vary from travel accounts to sailors’ memoirs, complete travelogues, autobiographies, and letters, it looks at British representations of Oman as a place, people, and culture. The study discusses the current Orientalist debate suggesting alternatives to the dilemma of Orientalism. It also outlines the historical Omani-British relations, and examines the travel accounts written by several British merchants and sailors who stopped in Muscat and other Omani coastal cities in the nineteenth century. Another focus is with the works of travellers who penetrated the Interior of Oman such as James Wellsted and Samuel Miles, and the travellers who explored the southern Oman and the Empty Quarter. Finally the book looks at the last generation of British travellers who were in Oman from 1950 to 1970 employed either by oil companies or the Sultan Said bin Taimur. The gap of knowledge that this book undertakes to fill is that most of the texts under discussion have not been studied in any context.
Contents: Picturing the Orient: A Survey of Approaches – Travelling the Frontiers: Ephemeral Journeys and Scattered Images – Penetrating the Interior: Politico-Travel and Explorations – Dhufar and the Empty Quarter: The Story of Unknown People and Untrodden Paths – Muscat and Oman: Narratives of War and Oil.