Meet the Dutch diplomat-turned explorer of Saudi deserts

Dutch diplomat and Orientalist Marcel Kurpershoek traversed Saudi Arabia's vast deserts and explored how it is to live as a Bedouin

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Dutch diplomat and Orientalist Paul Marcel Kurpershoek, who traversed Saudi Arabia's vast deserts and explored how it is to live as a Bedouin, features on Al Arabiya Television in a newly-released documentary.

Kurpershoek - who is also known by the nickname, the “Messenger,” – started his encounters in the Saudi Arabian deserts 30 years ago when he was the Netherlands ambassador to the Kingdom.

In four years, he managed to familiarize himself with the Bedouin dialect and poetry and established relations with local tribesman.

In the new documentary series, Kurpershoek recalls his expeditions of various Saudi deserts.

“It’s my homeland... I sometimes regard myself a Bedouin,” he says in the documentary.

"When I'm in the Netherlands during winter season and it gets dark, and people are in a hurry to go to their work, my thoughts take me back to Al-Nefud desert and the Arabian Peninsula.”

Speaking in Arabic, Kurpershoek at one point narrates a poetic verse from a famous pre-Islamic ode by Imru Al Qais' - considered the father of Arabic poetry.

Kurpershoek is said to be the first Westerner to visit ad-Dakhul and Hawmal, the two mountains mentioned in Imrul Qais’ ode.

This expedition, he says, made him understand that “everything holds a meaning” in Arabic poetry.

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