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Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar [Hardcover]

Emily Ruete
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: the gallery publications (1998)
  • ISBN-10: 9987887732
  • ISBN-13: 978-9987887736
  • ASIN: B004MSI3SM
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 15 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,805,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight 5 Jun 2008
Bought this book in Zanzibar on my honeymoon. It is very easy to read and provides a good insight into life in Princess Salme's world. The chapters are broken down into bite-size aspects of her daily life (clothes, food, family etc). There are occasional errors in the translation (for example our edition spells Muslim incorrectly throughout) and it is not exactly great language. But for a digestable, historical look at life on Zanzibar, I found ift very enjoyable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Look Behind Harem Doors 19 April 2011
By Nicky
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having recently visited Oman, I was interested to read something of its history, also Zanzibar. It was written many years ago, so the text can seem dated at times, but it is a fascinating account of life as it was then. Emily Ruete must have been a remarkable woman.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Description of Life in Zanzibar in 1800's 3 Aug 2000
By Ein Kunde - Published on
"Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar" by Emily Ruete (born Sayyida, Princess of Zanzibar) is a unique book, the only autobiography by a Zanzibari princess of the 19th century.
The author was born in Zanzibar in the mid-1800's. Long ruled by Omani Arabs, Zanzibar had achieved hegemony on the coast of Eastern Africa and had grown rich on the harvest of slaves and ivory from the continent and spices (especially cloves) from Zanzibar island itself. They had spread their influence and Swahili language as far west as Kisangani on the Congo river (the setting for V.S. Naipaul's "A Bend in the River"). Times were changing: European traders and missionaries were the harbingers of colonization for the continent, protectorate status for Zanzibar, and the crusade against the Eastern slave trade.
Sayyida eloped with a German and had to leave Zanzibar. She moved to Germany where she was eventually widowed and alone (her Islamic family in Zanzibar rejected her for marrying a European Christian.) She wrote this book for her children, to provide them a record of her history. In it she describes life in the Zanzibar royal palace and plantations: traditions, customs, palace intrigues and overthrows, the harem, slaves, festivals, manners, the status of women, and so forth. She compares her life in Europe to her life in Zanzibar. This book should be of value to anyone interested in Zanzibar or Eastern Africa, or Arab, Islamic, or Women's studies.
Please see my other reviews of books about Africa.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 25 Feb 2005
By Al-Azri - Published on
This book is written by Emily Ruete (formerly, Syiida Salma) who was the daughter of the most influential rulers of Oman and Zanzibar of all times. It was originally written in German and then translated into English and Arabic.

This book is excellent for the kind of readers who are fascinated by history and, Arab and Islam culture. Although the title suggests the author's autobiography, the book goes further to give a clear image on the political aspects and social life of the island of Zanzibar.

I am glad that she had some financial hardships that forced her to write such a book to sell it. It has delivered so much information about Zanzibar that we wouldn't know.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 5 Jan 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on
This book contains the memoirs of Emily (Sayyida) Ruete, a Nineteenth Century Arabian princess. It is a fascinating tale of childhood and living conditions within the harem in Nineteenth Century Zanzibar. The book is unique in that Sayyida was one of the very few princesses who learned to write, hence other princesses were not able to record their experiences. It is refreshing to read an insider's report of harem life rather than the strange misinterpretations of short-term foreign visitors. The book also contains firsthand accounts of political intrigue, which will be of interest to students of Zanzibari or Omani history.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing history to life 14 July 2000
By Moira Mattingly - Published on
I initially read several extracts from this book when I visited the Sultans' palace in Zanzibar Stone Town where the Princess used to live. I was fascinated by the day-to-day details in this book which really gave you an indepth look into how a Muslim Princess lived during that time. A great book for history lovers, world travelers and anyone who happens to be heading to Zanzibar (don't forget Mr Metou!).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a real story, incredible for the muslim world ... 2 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on
I use to leave in Ruete's palace in Zanzibar and reading her story was amazing for me. If you ever plan to visit the island of Zanzibar you can't miss this book.
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