Wings Over Arabia: A Gliding Expedition Across Saudi Arabia

Editors' Note: This article is based on a press release by Guy Cross, announcing publication of the book Wings Over Arabia by Roger Harrison. Mr. Cross is General Manager of Medina Publishing.

Wings Over Arabia is the first-hand account of an historic and often dangerous gliding expedition over the wild and desolate deserts, massive dormant volcanoes and ancient outpourings of black lava, the azure Red Sea coast and the mountainous southwestern region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The journey vividly illustrates the hugely varying topography, geology and character. It banishes forever the idea of a country that is popularly conceived of as simply a sandy desert and reveals the incredibly rich variety of this land.

The pilots, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (the first Arab in space), HRH Prince Bandar bin Khaled Al Faisal and British glider pilot instructor John Bally made gliding history by flying in a great circular route across the western and central areas of Saudi Arabia, over some of the harshest and most unforgiving desert terrain in the world.

Wings Over Arabia is the first book to feature extensive aerial photography of Saudi Arabia. With the expedition’s access to flight paths previously not available to civil aviation, many of the stunning photographs are unique and hitherto unseen. They are accompanied by the entertaining narrative of the author Roger Harrison, writer, photographer and long-time resident of the Kingdom.

This narrative is interspersed with fascinating illustrated texts that explain in detail the historical importance of some of the sights photographed from the air, including the Hejaz Railway (of Lawrence of Arabia fame) and the mysterious architectural remains of the Nabataean people, builders of Petra and the less well known southern capital Madain Saleh in Saudi Arabia.

Wings Over Arabia chronicles this modern version of a ‘royal progress’ over sites ancient and modern that mark waypoints in Saudi Arabia’s remarkable history, both ancient and modern. In the foreword HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman proclaims, “I truly wish that everyone could see Saudi Arabia the way we saw it." HRH Prince Bandar bin Khaled adds, “*Wings Over Arabia* perceptively captures the essence of the trip and the beauty of my country from a perspective that most of the population will never experience.”

"Lawrence of Arabia captured it from a camel. Roger Harrison captures it from the air. Both convey the magic of Arabia with breathtaking power." Robert Lacey, author of The Kingdom

“What an absolutely fantastic book. Amazing photographs and other illustrations, and clean crisp text.”
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, former UK Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Wings Over Arabia is available from all Jarir branches in Saudi Arabia and also from bookshops and websites in other countries.

About the author

After ten years in Saudi Arabia, first as a teacher then as Senior Reporter for the Arab News, Roger Harrison was invited to join this historic expedition to prove the possibility of introducing gliding as a sport in the Kingdom.

Writer, photographer and enthusiast of adventure sports, Roger’s motto is “everybody dies, but some never live.” He enthusiastically grabbed the chance to join two Saudi Princes in this expedition. The unique opportunity to fly over restricted parts of Saudi Arabia led to the coalescence of three of his great loves – flying, photography and the written word – into Wings Over Arabia. He is currently building a library of photographs as a record of the Kingdom for future archiving.

ISBN: KSA 978-6039035466 – UK 978-0956417077
Price: SRA 199 or GBP 45.00
Publication: January 2014
Illustrated throughout with colour photographs

Wings Over Arabia is published by Tarah International and Medina Publishing.