An NYU Abu Dhabi researcher who roamed the deserts of Saudi Arabia in the 1980s is now starring in an Arabic TV series about his experiences.
Humanities Research Fellow Marcel Kurpershoek, a former Dutch diplomat, is the central figure in the Arabic language documentary series Al-Rahhala al-Akhir, which is based on his book Arabia of the Bedouins — a collection of Bedouin poems and the story of his intensive study of traditional Saudi society. The show on Al Arabiya TV features a number of individual episodes in Arabic starting on October 7.
Here are eight interesting facts about Kurpershoek's experiences over the last three decades that culminated in a number of books and now a TV series about his encounters with the Bedouins and other European researchers who lived in the Arabian deserts in the 1980s.
1. Kurpershoek traveled to the desert in the 80s to record oral poetry and stories with the Bedouins. His fieldwork was first published in the series Oral Poetry and Narratives from Central Arabia (Brill Publishers 1994-2005). The literary story of his fieldwork was originally printed in Dutch in two volumes.
2. In 2000, Kurpershoek's book Arabia of the Bedouins (the inspiration for the TV series) was translated into Arabic as The Last Bedouin.