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  • Jane Craigie

Saudi Arabia, 1979-80


In this conversation between Jane Craigie and her father, Iain Craigie, the discussion centres on Iain’s posting to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia between 1979 and 1980. Iain was based there as one of five GCHQ operatives. Their role was to train Saudi Arabia’s national guard - mainly Bedouin - on how to set up the country’s own intelligence systems.  The posting was challenging, because most of the tutees were near illiterate, and the subject matter was highly technical. The time there was volatile and part of their work was to try and intercept transmissions and movements across the 1,100 mile border with Yemen.  This longer episode sets the context of the region back to WWI and Lawrence of Arabia, Kemal Ataturk, Gallipoli and the ANZACs. It also touches on the countries and the origins of the Sunni/Shia divisions, as well as the border areas and power in the Middle East. Iain talks of his time living in the country, the Saudi culture and his adventures into the desert with the immensely kind Bedouin and their families of nomadic camel herders.

Thank you to Wolfgang Inderwies, Pixabay for the image.

*please excuse the slight outages in audio - one of the dual mics I’ve been using has a fault. I’ve bought some new ones!


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