corsair

The latest addition to my website is Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud‘s القرصان (The Corsair), the first Qatari novel on my website. It essentially tells the story of the pirate Erhama bin Jaber, born in what is now Kuwait but brought up in Qatar. The action takes place in the early nineteenth century when the British are trying to control the Persian Gulf area, to make it safe for trade between India, Iran, Southern Arabia and Africa. The book tells the tales of Erhama’s exploits. He is cruel and ruthless but one of the few honourable people in the book. Virtually, everyone else – the British, the Persians, the Egyptians, the East India Company and its employees, the Al-Khalifas (then as now rulers of Bahrain), the Wahhabis, who are just coming into power, and other assorted Arabs – are, on the whole, dishonest, corrupt, venal and entirely focussed on their own narrow agendas, with no concern for the sufferings of others, particularly the poor native inhabitants. Erhama has a personal vendetta against the Al-Khalifas who, he feels, cheated him out of money but is happy to make deals with others, including the British. However, when they all betray him, even including his own son, he takes his revenge. It is an excellent swashbuckling tale, almost entirely plot-driven, and introduces us to a character and period and place of history of which most Westerners will be ignorant.