Modern Pilgrim in Mecca, A

by Wavell, A. J. B.

In 1908 Arthur Wavell left England to begin his journey to Mecca, determined to find out more about Arab customs with a view to future adventures into the unexplored interior of Arabia. Due to the suspicion a westerner would arouse, and the fact that unbelievers were forbidden by the authorities to enter Mecca, he undertook his pilgrimage in disguise. His journey to Damascus, Medina and finally Mecca with his two companions, a Swahili Muslim from Mombasa and an Arab from Aleppo, is detailed in the first part of the book (originally published in 1912). The second part describes his abortive attempt to explore south central Arabia, including his capture and expulsion from Yemen by the Turkish authorities. Wavell was clearly both a curious explorer and a daring adventurer; his efforts to make these fascinating places and customs better known are to be commended.