Cities of Salt

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Cities of Salt
Author Abdel Rahman Munif
Original title Mudun al-Milh / مدن الماح
Translator Peter Theroux
Country Saudi Arabia
Language Arabic
Series Cities of Salt
Genre Novel
Publisher Random House (Eng. trans.)
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 627 pp (paperback)
ISBN 0-394-75526X
Preceded by
Followed by The Trench

Cities of Salt is a novel by Abdul Rahman Munif. It was first published in Beirut in 1984 and was immediately recognized as a major work of Arab literature.[1] It was translated into English by Peter Theroux. The novel, and the quintet of which it is the first volume, describes the far-reaching effects of the discovery of huge reserves of oil under a once-idyllic oasis somewhere on the Arabian peninsula.

“Oil is our one and only chance to build a future," Munif once told Theroux, "and the regimes are ruining it.”[2] In the novel and its sequels, great oil-rich cities are soon built, described as cities of salt. "Cities of salt," said Munif when asked by Tariq Ali to explain the book's title, "means cities that offer no sustainable existence. When the waters come in, the first waves will dissolve the salt and reduce these great glass cities to dust. In antiquity, as you know, many cities simply disappeared. It is possible to foresee the downfall of cities that are inhuman. With no means of livelihood they won't survive."[3]


  1. ^ "Selling the Camels, Bulldozing the Oasis : CITIES OF SALT by Abdelrahman Munif; translated by Peter Theroux (Random House: $12.95; 526 pp.) – Los Angeles Times". 1988-05-29. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  2. ^ "Abdelrahman Munif and the Uses of Oil". Words Without Borders. 1988-10-17. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  3. ^ "Farewell to Munif". Retrieved 2013-07-01.