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DARING WOMAN TRAVELLER
Speeds Two Moalhs Among Arab Tribes
Mrs. Rosita Forbes (Mrs. A. T. M "Grath), the daring traveller whose journey to Kutra oasis caused such a sensation a -coupie of.years age, has recently .returned to Cairo after a two months' etpy in Asir and yemen. The mpt|V£ iqf her journey, Mrs, Forbes told & "QirÍPtpin science Moni- tor" representative, -wa? to^ satisfy an insatiable curiosity regarding the Arab peoples. She had previously met and talked with most of the Arab rulers, and was anxious to make the acquaint- ance of the Emir Idrissi of Asir, to whom she had letters of introduction from big kinsman, the Grand Senussi, whom she had met during her Fufra
Accompanied by an Egyptian, Kamel Effendi Fahmy, Mrs. Forbes sailed from Port Sudan some few months ago and, owing to adverse winds and mishaps, did not reach the Arabian coast until 14 days later. Arriving at Jeizan, the letters of introduction to the Emir secured a welcome from the members of the Idrissi family at the port and a more or less comfortable journey into the interior where the Emir was visited.
Of the Emir Mrs. Forbes had noth- ing but praise. She described him as a just and popular ruler, beloved of bis subjects, and, in contrast to most Arab chieftains, without political am- bitions, seeking only to be at peace with his neighbors. To this end he has recently concluded a non-aggres- sion pact with Ibn Saud, Sultan of Nejd, his neighbor on the east, while the Idrissi's relations with his hereditary enemy. King Hussein of the Hedjaz. are also at the moment good. On the other hand, there is a desultory kind of war going on between the Idrissi and the Imam Yah Ia, who controls
Mrs. Forbes was surprised by the density of population and the fertility of the Asir and north Temen lit- toral. A rough kind of irrigation con- serves the considerable, though sea- sonal, rainfall on the seaward slopes of the mountain range which runs parallel with the Red Sea coast and enables the inhabitants to live in com- parative luxury so far as good supplies
These inhabitants are very back- ward in civilisation and very hostile to foreigners. Fanatically religious, they practise a very ascetic kind of Mohammedanism. They neither drink intoxicants nor smoke tobacco. At- tendance at public prayer is compul- sory for every male, and curfew rings, or rather curfew drums are beaten, at nine o'clock every night, after which time nobody must be abroad, under pain of severe penalties. Life is gov- erned by Islamic law, and the punish- ments prescribed by the Prophet, such as stoning to death and cutting off of a hand, are still applied in flagrant cases of transgression.
In striking contrast with the Puri- tanical spirit of northern Asir was the laxity of morals in southern Asir and northern Temen, where the Emir does not exercise effective control. There many of the Bedouin are frankly pagan and still carry on the black stone worship which is a legacy of pre Islamic times, while other supposedly good Moslems were seen praying with their backs to Mecca
Mrs. Forbes hopes, eventually, to become acquainted with all the rolers in the Arabian Peninsula, and to that end is planning further journeys in
the near future.