After thousands of nights under star drenched skies, through blistering summers and bracing winters; times of despair while trekking to elusive summits and of tranquility resting on huge sand dunes; cherished memories of unique people, of sights, sounds, smells and tastes; this book is the result of a journey spanning a whole generation, a journey through deserts, enchanting and magnificent. It is the tale of the deserts themselves; the Negev, Jordan, Sinai, and Western desert of Egypt (east Sahara).
I was unaware of it at the time, but in 1983, as a young Sinai tour guide, I was setting out on a special journey, a fascinating journey, exhausting at times, yet always captivating and wonderful. It has a beginning, but so far, no end. I am grateful for everything it has revealed to me, and for the privilege of being able to document it so closely, over so many years.
My dutiful companion throughout, bearing witness to the endless desert passes and the ever-changing scenery, was my camera; it has come in various makes and models over the years, each a little improvement on the last. My familiarity with the desert and its landscapes has also improved with time and my attachment to these places has become ever deeper and stronger. In this book I try to capture, from a personal view-point, the delicate beauty and fragility of the desert, set against its almost inconceivable magnitude.
By chance or not, the period of time in which these pictures were taken, turned out to be an era that was to see many of the earths natural sanctuaries caught in a devastating clash with global development. Areas of natural beauty are sacrificed to progress and dealt deathly blows that devastate their ecology and cultures, seemingly with little weight or thought given to either; the desert has proven to be no exception. I'm sad to say that some of the scenes and characters pictured in this book are now just memories. As time passes, getting images of these people and places in the way that I am accustomed, becomes ever more challenging.
The images are accompanied by texts which were compiled and translated by Avraham Shaked; a seasoned Sinai guide and conservationist. The texts were written by desert travelers through the ages. They all reflect the authors' awe at the desert; its untainted beauty reminiscent of creation itself. Avraham's excerpts add an additional, tangible, quality to the images making this book more than just a good collection of desert photography.
My heartfelt thanks to all the people who have been part of this journey over the years and everyone who assisted in the publication of this book, including; Itzik Mackovsky, Menahem Marcus, Tony Malmqavist and Motti Hazan.
Finally I dedicate this book to the memory of my brother Ohad who died in a motorcycle accident on the 1st January 2010 aged 28. Ohad was a brother and a friend, he became involved in desert tours in the last years of his life and just a month before his death joined me on a tour in the Edom Mountains of Jordan. He brought his camera along and I've included one of Ohad's pictures here on page 88. For you, Ohad.