The Heart of Arabia expedition will embark on a two-stage 1,300km journey across Saudi Arabia, loosely following the route of Harry St John Philby’s 1917 mission to Ibn Saud, a journey that was to see him cross from Al Uqair in the east, to Jeddah in the west. Philby paused for several weeks in Riyadh whilst he engaged in lengthy discussions. After these initial meetings, Philby completed his crossing by travelling west to Jeddah, under the protection of Ibn Saud. The expedition takes its name from the title of the book that Philby wrote after his journey.
Our own journey will start in Al Uqair on November 15th, the same place and date as back in 1917 when Philby and his party came ashore after a boat trip south from Basra. Using his meticulous field notes, we will travel inland on foot, by camel and by 4×4. There was much more to Philby’s life in Arabia than his award winning 1917 journey, and our expedition vehicles will allow us to travel greater distances off the original route to visit places of interest that Philby visited or mapped in the 40 or so years of his life that followed 1917, such as the remote meteorite crater Al Hadida in the northern Rub Al Khali, and parts of the famous Darb Zubaydah pilgrim route.
On reaching Riyadh, our expedition will, like Philby’s, pause before continuing west, descending from the 2,000ft escarpment onto the plains below, crossing lava fields and ancient pilgrim trails before arriving on the Red Sea coast at Jeddah in early 2023.