4 December 1916

“Suddenly Feisal asked me if I would wear Arab clothes like his own while in the camp. I should find it better for my own part, since it was a comfortable dress in which to live Arab-fashion as we must do. Besides, the tribesmen would then understand how to take me. The only wearers of khaki in their experience had been Turkish officers, before whom they took up an instinctive defence. If I wore Meccan clothes, they would behave to me as though I were really one of the leaders; and I might slip in and out of Feisal’s tent without making a sensation which he had to explain away each time to strangers. I agreed at once, very gladly; for army uniform was abominable when camel-riding or when sitting about on the ground; and the Arab things, which I had learned to manage before the war, were cleaner and more decent in the desert … I felt that I had better get back to Yenbo, to think seriously about our amphibious defence of this port, the Navy having promised its every help. We settled that I should consult Zeid, and act with him as seemed best. Feisal gave me a magnificent bay camel for the trip back.”

Events of 4 December 1916 as recounted by T. E. Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926).

Lawrence’s days and nights in camp with Feisal’s army at Nakhl Mubarak would bring only three hours’ sleep amid all the “constant alarms and excitements”. But it was also during this encounter that Feisal suggested he adopt Arab dress, a move that in later years would help seal his fame as the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia”.