“Will fortune ever, O daughter of Malik, ever bless me with thy embrace, that would cure my heart of the sorrows of love? If my eye could see her baggage camels, and her family, I would rub my cheeks on the hoofs of her camels.”

In the pre-Islamic love poems of Antarah Ibn Shaddad (525AD to 608AD), known as the Black Knight, one feels the anguish of this brave former slave who loves his cousin Abla, but is not allowed to be with her. He was a warrior, tough and brave, but gentle and heartbroken over his love. A rock is named after Antarah in Uyun Al Jiwa, in the north-west Al Qassim province of Saudi Arabia, called Sakhrat Antarah – a site believed to be where Antarah would meet his love Abla, away from prying eyes. Not surprisingly, the rock is regularly visited by lovers and fans of the knight’s poetry. While touching the actual rock is prohibited for its preservation, visiting this site of a tragic love story is one not to be missed.

- Words by Rym Tina Ghazal