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’

3) The Mountain Barrier

Much of Arabia’s wildlife is concentrated in the high Sarawat mountains of Western Arabia. Rising to 13,000 feet the mountains extend for 1,000 miles along the entire length of the Red Sea. High juniper forests are fed by moisture rising from the Red Sea and support large troops of Hamadryas baboons. Exotic African birds, hornbill and Abyssinian roller share this isolated region with endemic wildlife including the yellow cobra, Agamid lizards and 13 species of bird found nowhere else in the world.

Wildlife has also moved into the abandoned mountain village of al-Fawqa. Fruit bats, sunbirds and weaver birds flourish, but behind the mountain wall in the vast volcanic moonscape of ancient lava flows, this barren landscape explodes with spring growth and provides a nursery for millions of migrating birds.

Preserved in the mountain barrier is the living memory of an ancient time when much of Arabia was teeming with wildlife.


Asir and Hijaz Mountain regions of Western Saudi Arabia

Main species

Hamadryas Baboons, Abyssinian Roller, Little Grey Hornbill, Yellow Viper, Reef Heron, Cream Coloured Courser, Arabian Sand Gazelle, Fruit Bats, Weaver Birds, Juniper Forest


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