Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Ships of the Desert

According to Time Middle East's Scott MacLeod, a mystery ailment has killed almost 2,000 Saudi camels: tainted feed is suspected. In his piece MacLeod attempts to underline the importance of camels to the Saudis: there are apparently just under a million of them in the Kingdom.

It all brought to mind a story I was told many years ago by an experienced Middle East lawyer from a British law firm. His firm had been called in to defend a major oil company against an angry Bedouin tribe which had lost one of its prize racing camels in a tar pit owned by the company.

Getting to court, our man was surprised to find himself up against the tribal poet, who apparently waxed most lyrical and at considerable length on the grace, beauty and sheer delightfulness of the deceased beast, leaving not a dry eye in the house. Of course, the highly esteemed (and as highly paid) counsel flown in from London didn't stand a chance and lost the case hands down.

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