In search of a lost city
‘Imagined Maps: In search of the lost Arabian City of the Sands...’
by Sheikha Alyazia bint Nahyan Al-Nahyan.
“Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with ‘Aad - [With] Iram - who had lofty pillars, The likes of whom had never been created in the land? And [with] Thamud, who carved out the rocks in the valley? And [with] Pharaoh, owner of the stakes? - [All of] whom oppressed within the lands And increased therein the corruption. So your Lord poured upon them a scourge of punishment. Indeed, your Lord is in observation.”
(Qur’an, Surat Al-Fajr, The Dawn 89:6-14)
Mankind’s insatiable fascination to discover and search for the lost and unknown has led many travelers and explorers over the decades to venture into the desert of Rub Al-Khali—the Empty Quarter— in search of the legendary lost ‘Atlantis of the sands.’ This fabled City of Ubar, also known as Iram of the Pillars, was a wicked towered city destroyed by strong winds and sand. It is also a city of wealth, jewels, incense and gold, as retold in the timeless tales of 1,001 Nights.
Excavations and archaeological findings over the years have tied different locations to the legend of Ubar but it still remains a mystery. In this special issue dedicated to legends, we hope to inspire this lost art of exploration of local treasures before they are forgotten forever.