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’

2) Red Sea Rift

Thousands of miles of coral walls, atolls, fringing reefs and sheltered lagoons give the Red Sea some of the most spectacular underwater landscapes on earth. The film emphasises marine behaviour characteristic of each zone starting in the plankton-rich southern waters around the Farasan Islands. Tiny filter-feeding organisms, trigger fish, goat fish, gobies and prawns up through vast schools of jacks and barracuda preyed upon by sharks are all part of the remarkable chain of life.

At the edge of the deep coral canyons of the central Red Sea, schools of giant manta rays gather to feed on reef-generated plankton. Their extraordinary aggregate feeding behaviour has never been filmed before, nor has the life-cycle of the recently discovered Midas blenny, so successful was it’s disguise among the red anthias.

On the sandy-bottomed reef shelf in the north, garden eels anchor in the deep sand and many endemic creatures adopt astonishing disguises in order to survive.


Red Sea coastal regions of Saudi Arabia – Farasan Islands

Main species

Midas Blenny, Giant Manta Rays, White Reef Shark, Red Anthias, Garden Eels, Coral Reefs, Trigger Fish, Goat Fish, Goby, Prawn Jack, Barracuda, Carpet Anemone, Harlequin Shrimp, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Fiddler Crabs, Rockskippers, Sergeant Major Fish, Sea Urchin, Dotty Backs

Red Sea Rift Awards

Sanedodoro Festival 1992
Red Sea Rift was awarded ‘The Golden Dolphin’ Award

I.Ci.Mar Festival, Italy 1991
‘Red Sea Rift’ was awarded the Gold Medallion

National Educational Film & Video Festival USA 1991
‘Red Sea Rift’ was awarded the Silver Apple Award in the ‘Evolution and Biodiversity’ category


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