Arabia: Sand, Sea & Sky, 1986-1990

First Broadcast: Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the BBC

Distribution: McKinnon Films

Running Time: Approx 3 x 53 minutes

An FF and McKinnon Production

Series Synopsis

Filmed over three years, Arabia Sand, Sea & Sky is the first in-depth television series on the Arabian Peninsula’s unique natural history. The three programmes; Eye of the Camel, Red Sea Rift and The Mountain Barrier, explore the rich and extraordinary wildlife heritage as well as the topography, geology and evolution of the Peninsula.

Series Awards

Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, USA 1991
The series was awarded ‘Best Limited Series’

5th International Festival of Documentary Films, Italy 1991
The series was awarded the Potstone Vase for ‘an exceptionally high level of cinematography’

1) Eye of the Camel

The immense sand desert in Southern Arabia is known as the Rub al-Khali, the Empty Quarter, because for six months of the year it is empty of people. No one dares enter its burning sands.

In this film we journey with a Bedouin family on their winter migration into this desolate landscape and investigate the extraordinary strategies of survival adopted by the desert animals and plants. Camels, gazelle, oryx, plants, insects and the astonishing desert shrimp are all uniquely adapted for coping with extreme heat and the absence of water.

We learn much of the husbandry of camels and the old method of hunting with Saluki dogs and observe the wildlife of the ancient al-Hasa Oasis.

However, the prosperity of the modern age has profound implications for all wildlife and the ecology of the central Arabian deserts is undergoing rapid change.


Rub al-Khali Desert, Saudi Arabia

Main species

Camel, Arabian Sand Gazelle, Arabian Oryx, Tadpole Shrimp, Date Palms, Tribulus, Scorpion, Goat, Hare, Saluki Dogs

Eye of the Camel Awards

Wildscreen International Wildlife Film Festival, UK 1990
‘Eye of the Camel’ won a Special Award in the category ‘Man and the Environment’


  • Producer / Director: Michael McKinnon
  • Narrator: Richard Kiley
  • Photography: John Bulmer
  • Editor: John Hackney
  • Composer: Robert Boyle
  • Associate Producer: Muhammad al Edrisi
  • An FF and McKinnon Production
All content © McKinnon Films 2020