Souk Okaz: Phoenix of the Arabian Desert traces the story of the famous pre-Islamic poetry contests of the sixth century, drawing on recent Saudi Arabian histories of the famous market, and is published to coincide with the revived Souk Okaz Festival, now in its fifth year.

Souk Okaz played a vital role in the development of a unified Arab language and culture; the festival was held in the commercial souk that centered on the convergence of the important trade routes bringing spices, frankincense, silver and silk from the Indian Ocean markets to the Mediterranean harbors. The poetry produced there includes some of the most famous and high appreciated classical Arabic poetry: the winning poems, known as Al Mu’allaqat, were transposed onto drapes that covered the Kaabah in Mekkah.


The book not only explores the poetry for which the festival is remembered, but also the historical events that shaped the early Islamic world. Souk Okaz: Phoenix of the Arabian Desert contains articles on the importance of these commercial gatherings in their relation to the Hajj pilgrimage and presents new research on the connection between the five wars of Fijar (585-590 CE), and the wider struggle between the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires in the region for control of these lucrative trade caravans.



Elegantly designed to reflect the spirit of the old and new festivals, as well as the local color and geography of Okaz, Souk Okaz: Phoenix of the Arabian Peninsula combines historical research, poetry and photography to vividly depict a quintessential event of Arabic culture.




The book can be found on our mohtaraf books website.