After the Arab Spring — comes the Arab Fall


SHAIKH-DOWN offers a timely blueprint for Regime Change on an island in the Persian Gulf. This spicy comedy has a sharp sting in its tail.


Published in 2009 – 18 months before the Arab World erupted into its current wave of unrest – David Gee’s “prophetic” novel offers an alternative scenario for a bloodless (well, almost) revolution on an imaginary (well, almost) island in the Persian Gulf, an island called Belaj, linked by a causeway to the United Arab Emirates.


Thirty years ago, Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa al-Khazi , the Emir of Belaj, stole the throne of the tiny gas-rich island from his uncle. Now BARF (the Belaj Armed Revolutionary Front) plans to dethrone Shaikh Khalid and install a republic. Their campaign attracts some unlikely allies: a pneumatic American airhostess and a gay British language teacher.

FOLLOW THE LINK to read Extracts from the Book 

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(only available as an e-book)

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Some authors start with characters and build a story round them. SHAIKH-DOWN started with a couple of ideas when I was in Bahrain in the 1970s. A few flight-attendants I met (we still called them air-hostesses back then) were moonlighting as what the French call “poules-de-luxe” with seriously rich Arabs. Then a boy who worked with me (it wasn’t in a bank) was “disappeared” by the Security Police. I decided I would have to write a novel about this which, perversely, insisted on becoming a comedy. Several of the characters, made up to fit the requirements of the story as it developed,  are inspired by people I knew in London rather than the Middle East.

Shaikh-Down was originally published (1999) as Florence of Arabia by David Godolphin. This title was “recycled” by Christopher Buckley in the US, so when I republished in 2009 (with a revised ending) I gave the book a new title and the author a new name.

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This is me with Sadie and Sophie, two mongrels rescued from a date plantation in Bahrain. They appear in the novel and both came back to live out their lives in England, Sadie with my mother in Brighton, Sophie with me in London.


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