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Volume 49, Number 2 March/April 1998

In This Issue

March/April 1998
History's Hooves
Written by Judy Erkanat
Photographed by Mustafa Sabankaya

Arabian horses came to Poland through centuries of trade with the Ottoman Empire and border wars with Tartars to the east; as early as 1600, Polish nobility embarked on a meticulous breeding program to preserve the horses' desert virtues. Polish Arabians nearly perished in the upheaval of the world wars, but today are one of the most prized lines for their beauty, stamina and intelligence.

New Light on Old Yemen
Written by Richard Covington
Photographs courtesy of Institut Du Monde Arabe

Of the civilizations of the Middle East, Yemen's are among the least well known. A Paris-based exhibition spans seven millennia with a collection of incense burners, steles, inscribed tablets and statuary which appear in the West, on loan from Yemeni museums, for the first time. The show affords glimpses into kingdoms that built their wealth on the far-reaching incense trade, and whose art—though it shows Greek and Persian influences—remains mysterious, hermetic and different from any other on the Peninsula.

The Sultan of Surf
Written by George Baramki Azar

Dick Dale plays the electric guitar left-handed, upside down and loud. His intensity and discipline hark back to the Lebanese-American uncle who taught him his first instrument, the darbukkah. In the 1950's Dale invented surf music, an ear-pounding beat that expresses the "purification" of riding the waves. His technique has inspired rock-and-rollers for four decades, and today Dale may well be the most influential of all Arab-American musicians—and he still rocks hard enough to take your breath away.

Unsung Crossroads
Written and photographed by David W. Tschanz

Today it hosts a cluster of towns in northern Saudi Arabia, but for millennia Al-Jawf held sway over a broader region, thanks to its fertile land and its position astride the trade routes that connected Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Mesopotamia. The remains of its old town tell of the times when its wealth was coveted by great empires, and its mosque, now restored, may be the oldest in the world.