The Brotherhood of Man

Dear Tim,

I am writing from a very wet Beirut in the Lebanon.

One always comes to reflect on the past at this time of the year and sadly the world at the moment is portrayed as place full of divisions, bigotry and hate.

I would like to dispel some of this small minded propaganda and remind you that from my experience I have found people to be mostly honourable, trustworthy, friendly and compassionate.

I am fortunate to have worked, lived, eaten and shared campfires with people from many different countries and religious beliefs this year.

My great friendship with Khaled Amin, an Egyptian Muslim, still a surprise to many people, even Egyptians. We have worked together for over ten years out of our little office in the Sinai with our extended Bedouin family; this includes Abu Radi, the old camel trader and guide at its head and his sons Talal and Sammy, all of whom I have crossed the desert with on many occasions, both in summer and winter.

Along with the Jebeleya and Al-Egat Bedu of the Sinai, I have crossed the Rub al-Khali with the al– Howitat Bedu of Jordan, who’s grandfathers fought alongside T.E. Lawrence.

Only last month I forged new friendships with Sheikh Abdullah of the Ababda and Sheikh Marey in the Eastern Desert of Egypt and am looking forward to crossing the desert, from the Red Sea to the Nile, in their company in 2017.

We have also been lucky enough to work alongside Coptic and Orthodox Christians in Egypt, Roman Catholic Arrieros in Spain and Quechua Indians deep in the Amazon basin, not to mention our expeditions in the Namib desert working with Afrikaans, Damara and Herero peoples.

All these, who are often very poor people, have shown me great kindness and friendship.

A very happy New Year