‘To understand a people, acquaint yourself with their proverbs’ runs an Arab adage, and here are the books that do just that. The popular Apricots Tomorrow, a selection of sayings from the Gulf region, was the first in the series and is now joined by its sister titles The Son of a Duck is a Floater and Unload your own Donkey, which draws on sayings from the Maghreb and Levant. Pairing age-old Arabic sayings with English equivalents, the proverbs highlight the uncanny similarity of inherited wisdom in the East and West.
Emirates Diaries: From Sheikhs to Shakespeare£3.99 – £5.49
Ubuntu: Summer of the Rhino
The Pearl Diver£12.95
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These collections of popular wisdom, wittily illustrated by the cartoonist Kathryn Lamb, are books to browse through, smile at and learn from. Each book contains over 100 proverbs from all over the Arab world. Primrose Arnander and Ashkhain Skipwith are both formerly resident in the Middle East.
The late Ashkhain Skipwith was a member of a close-knit Armenian family, she was born in and brought up in Gaza; later she lived UK, Saudi Arabia and Canada. For many years she was an oncology nurse but found time to write three cookery books comprising Armenian, Middle Eastern and Saudi recipes, as well as co-authoring three collections of Arabic proverbs. She died of cancer in 2006.
Kathryn Lamb contributes cartoons to The Oldie, Spectator and Private Eye. She has had several exhibitions and has written several books, illustrated by her own cartoons, about teenage life; they have been translated into many languages. Her cartoons are sold in The Cartoon Gallery, London.
Primrose Arnander is co-author of the three collections of Arabic proverbs and one of French proverbs - with English equivalents. She is also co-author of Gertrude Jekyll - Essays on the Life of a Working Amateur.