Alan Villiers and the Sons of Sinbad

27 November 2019

  • Sector: Arts and Culture
  • Country location: Kuwait
  • Grantee: Australian National Maritime Museum
Old Black and White photo of eleven people in Kuwait.
Alan Villiers in Kuwait. Credit: Alan Villiers.

Project description

"Alan Villiers & the Sons of Sinbad – an Australian in 1930s Kuwait" presents a series of 50 photographs from the late 1930s when Australian journalist, novelist, sailor and adventurer Alan Villiers travels to Arabia to photograph, film and write about what he believed were the last days of merchant sailing ships.

Villiers captures age-old Arabian sailing traditions, the great skills and hardship endured by the sailors, and Kuwait City before the discovery of oil which changed the Kuwaiti way of life forever.

Villiers devoted his life to ships of sail and his decision to record Arab dhows before they disappeared has left us with a striking photographic record of the men and vessels as well as life on the waterfront. He donated his archive to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich prior to his death in 1982.

Villiers is one of the leading Western writers on the Arabian world and this photographic exhibition presented by the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in conjunction with the Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait’s National Council for Art, Culture and Letters, the Australian Embassy (Kuwait) and grant funding from the Council for Australian Arab Relations.

Key dates

  • Series of lectures: Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah, 1 December 2019 to 31 March 2020
  • Official opening: Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah, 1 December 2019
  • Signals magazine article: Sydney, Australia, 1 November 2019
  • Education programs: Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah, 1 December to 31 March 2020
  • Council for Australian-Arab Relations grant offer: $30,000.
  • Total project value: $68,000.


Last Updated: 28 November 2019