The Bookworm Sez

Book review: Diamond in the Desert

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Real AspenOctober 4, 2010

Everything looks the same, but not quite.

The trees are bigger, of course, but some are gone. Houses have been remodeled and painted, spiffed up or torn down and replaced. Lampposts still stand, but somehow they seem smaller than you remember. Things are different enough but even through grown-up eyes, you know you'd recognize your old neighborhood no matter how much it wasn't the same anymore.

Can you ever go home again? In the new book “Diamond in the Desert” by Jo Tatchell, idyllic childhood memories are replaced by blunt realities.

Back in the early 1970s, when she was just a toddler, Jo Tatchell's father accepted a position as manager of a British company's new Middle Eastern supermarket. He moved his family to the sleepy village of Abu Dhabi, where revenues were just beginning to flow like the oil from which they sprang.

The population of Abu Dhabi was about a thousand souls then and most of the villagers made their livings in the way their grandparents and great-grandparents did: as fishermen, camel traders, and pearl divers. Tatchell remembers picnics in ever-blowing sand dunes and waving to Abu Dhabians in their sanbuks on the water.

When she was a teenager, Tatchell's parents sent her back to Great Britain, and to school. She rarely returned to the sand, the souks, or the city in which she grew up.

So when her brother called her to tell her about a surprising cultural development being planned, Tatchell began to think about Abu Dhabi again. She hadn't visited since the millennium. She needed to see what had become of it.

She was dismayed at what she found.

Barasti huts made of palm fronds had been replaced by blinding-white skyscrapers. The once-ever-present sand that settled into every crease and cranny was miraculously absent. Even wooden sanbuks were replaced by yachts. Big money, designer fashions, and fancy vehicles had come to Abu Dhabi, along with a kind of cultural amnesia: many young Abu Dhabians are unaware that their lifestyles are vastly different than that which had been lived even two generations prior.

Without a doubt, “Diamond in the Desert” makes you want to go back about forty years in time to visit the Abu Dhabi of old. Author Jo Tatchell's wistful descriptions of the sands, the quiet way of life, even the pristine waters are so relaxing that you can almost hear voices in the souk and the call to prayer at ancient mosques.

But then the dirham flips, and Tatchell writes about a quickly-growing city in which possessions have new meaning but ancient tribal allegiances are strong and though foreigners are welcome, there is an underbelly. Tatchell weaves a bit of danger in this part-memoir, part-travelogue, part-cultural study which, despite that it delves into history that is sometimes a little hard to follow, makes it an alluring read.

If you're curious about Middle Eastern culture or if you want an inside peek at an oil-rich economy, you'll want this book. For you, “Diamond in the Desert” is definitely worth a look.


comments: 18 Comments on "Book review: Diamond in the Desert"

emmawattson – Nov. 25, 2021, at 12:55 a.m.

My review about the Diamond in the Desert book is that it is a sea of information. I love to read books on a daily basis. I always research for informative content to increase my knowledge. Those book writers who write an informative book are the best resource for us just like Terri Schlichenmeyer. The way he described the story of Abu Dhabi's development is superb. The lesson I learned from that book is that it is not mandatory that everything appears in front of us, we have to do research to make our country a real diamond. People pastly thought that Abu Dhabi is just a desert, not more than that. But they were wrong. Reality is in front of you all. They did research to make their desert country a diamond. Now Abu Dhabi is the best place for tourism, they have lots of resources and also it is the best place to live. Abu Dhabi is a role model for us and the motivation that everything is possible if we want.

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This book is adventurous and exciting throughout. a good read for everyone. Anyone should start this and they'll be so hooked on it. I finished this Book in a day

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As a professional essay writer, My review of the Diamond in the Desert book is that it is lots of information. I am thankful to Terri Schlichenmeyer for writing this informative book that increases my knowledge. It will be better for tourists if he also writes about its places and resources. The Diamond in the Desert is a wonderful captivating true story about the life of a young brave woman from Scotland who fell in love with a Sheik from Abu Dhabi, moved to her Sheik's homeland, and gave birth to their children. It details how this strong Scottish woman helped build their home and family and became a key player in the development of her country as it grew into one of the most progressive countries on earth.

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