The Reading Room


The Reading Room is actually my study. This is where I spend most of my days among my books and with my computer which I also use to digitize my photographs. Here, with all those great authors on my shelves and all those images of our Beautiful Earth that pop out at me with a touch of my keyboard, there is never a moment of dullness.

Among my favorite books on my shelves are two by your host. One in Arabic titled “Hikayatuna fil-Andalus” (Our Story in Al-Andalus), published in Beirut, Lebanon in 1989, and the other in English titled SWIFT DAWN, LONG SUNSET (The story of the Arabs in Al-Andalus) "published by Quartett Books" , London in 2013 and available at

Why did I choose to write on this subject was a question my friends and acquaintances often asked.  Well, during my childhood I was never able to distinguish between the words, Al-Andalus and Al- Firdaws (Arabic for Paradise), and while later on I was able to make the distinction, back in my mind the confusion persisted until I had the chance to visit Al-Andalus following a United Nations conference I attended in Barcelona. 

This is where the confusion vanished. I found out that in fact there was no difference. Al-Andalus was in fact a Paradise.Since then there was only this subject on  my mind. I started devouring one book after the other by Arab, English, French, Italian and Spanish historians. It started as a curiosity,  but as I was learning more and more about the subject an urge to tell the story in a different way kept nagging until the curiosity developed into an obsession and the obsession lead me to my desk,  and although I now have written those two books on the subject, my fascination continues to lure me towards further research horizons.

But while you are in this room, there are two stories I’d like to tell, if you have the time. The first is about a cruise to Alaska and the second about a pilgrimage to the Rocio in Spain, both with some photo illustrations. More such stories will follow later.

Swift Dawn, Long Sunset