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Public Lecture Series featuring Mark Evans

Arabia Felix – on the trail of a forgotten explorer

This event will be streamed live. Please visit our Live Stream page at 7pm on the evening of the event to view the lecture for free.

In the 1930s, thanks to the exploits of Lowell Thomas and T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, the western world was obsessed with Arabia; the Rub Al Khali, or Empty Quarter, was considered the largest expanse of unexplored land outside of Antarctica. Setting off from Salalah in southern Oman, after a journey of 60 days, English explorer Bertram Thomas and his team of Bedouin companions finally reached Doha, the capital of Qatar. Unable to communicate his achievements, he then had to sail by Dhow to the Telegraph office in Bahrain to announce that the largest sand desert on earth had been crossed. Telegrams of congratulations came in from around the world, and the story was front page news in The Times in London, and The New York Times. Thomas was awarded the Cullum Medal in New York, and the Founders Medal in London at the Royal Geographical Society, and his book, Arabia Felix, told the tale of an extraordinary journey that contributed a great deal to science. The photographs and video footage shot by Thomas (and recently digitised) represent some of the earliest images of Arabia.

Thomas walked into terra incognita. He was about to be sacked for incompetence, had no funding, no map, and no way of communicating to anyone where he was for 60 days. Ask people today who is the first person the cross the great sand desert of Arabia, and the most common answer will be Wilfred Thesiger. Undoubtedly gifted with a pen, and a camera, but able to benefit from maps, the experiences of Thomas, and 18 years advance of technology, Thesiger has evolved into an iconic figure of desert exploration, and the exploits of Thomas have been forgotten.

In 1932, Bertram Thomas stood up in New York and addressed Explorers Club members on his successful crossing, a journey which is to be re-traced 85 years later by small team of Arabs and an Englishman later in 2015. The lecture will tell the tale of the original journey, and will share plans for the new, that begins in November 2015.

Mark Evans is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London, and an International Fellow of the Explorers Club. 54 years old, Evans is the Executive Director of Outward Bound Oman, the only Outward Bound School in the Arab world. He has a passion for historical exploration; recent expeditions have seen him leading a two man crossing the Greenland Ice-Cap on the trail of Nansen, being surrounded by Arctic Wolves on the uninhabited Melville Island in the NWT of Canada, on the trail of the first ever overland journey in the Arctic by the British Navy in 1827, an spending a year, including 4 months of total darkness living in small tents on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, home to the largest population of Polar Bears. For the past 20 years Evans has lived in the Middle East, where he has explored and travelled extensively in Saudi Arabia, on in Oman, where he recently completed a 55 day solo kayak journey along the coast from Musandam, near Iran, to the border with Yemen.

Date: September 21st, 2015

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: Free

Guest Ticket Price: $20

Student Ticket Price:

Free for EC student members, $5 with a valid student ID

Reservation Notes:

Reservations are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To secure a place, please call us at 212.628.8383 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste