Kemal el Din Monument

Kemal el Din monument
Prince Kemal el Din, cousin to the first modern king of Egypt, King Faruk, gave up the opportunity to take the throne himself in favour of the life of an explorer/scientist. He was rich enough to fund lavish expeditions in the Saharan interior. In 1924, using half track vehicles especially built for him by the Citroen company, he came upon a large plateau the size of Switzerland in the South Western corner of the Western Desert, which he named the Gilf Kebir.

Kemal el Din seemed to have been that rare being who matched great personal wealth with a huge capacity for organisation, physical toughness and a noble spirit that was universally admired. Almasy, a man not easily impressed, seems to have held Kemal el Din in such high regard that it almost amounted to hero worship. When Kemal el Din died in 1932, having been about to finance Almasy's decisive campaign into the desert to find the lost oasis of Zerzura, Almasy turned to Sir Robert Clayton-East-Clayton for funding, only for Sir Robert to die a few months later from blood poisoning. Almasy was finally able to mount his expedition in May of 1933, during which he stopped to erect this memorial to his old friend.

The broken white marble plaque in front of the cairn originally stood at the foot of the cairn. Written in Arabic, the citation reads, "In the memory of His Royal Higness Prince Kemal el Din Hussein, the great explorer of the Lybian Desert. This monument was erected by some who appreciate his great efforts." Although visited at least once again before the war, and probably well known to the 'Kufra convoys' which kept the liberated Kufra Oasis supplied by truck convoys from Wadi Halfa almost a thousand miles away during WWII, it was not until 1982 that the monument appears to have been rediscovered by an Austrian expedition. With the advent of GPS, it is no feat of navigation to track down this monument. It is the custom for visitors to leave business cards or small mementos in a tin box at the foot of the cairn.

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Back to the map of the Gilf Kebir