Follow along with Bethany O'Brien as she embarks on a journey of ancient intrigue and self-discovery. Her destination is a confrontation with Zubis, the powerful djinni from her past who is A Genie in the House of Saud. The information provided here has been gleaned from a variety of sources that are referenced below for your own travels.
Bethany O'Brien seeks modern career success in the nation's capital, as an editor and reporter. She travels by Metro every day from her apartment in the northwest section of the District to her job in the National Press Building. The neoclassic design of the District appeals to Bethany's eye and appeases her soul. She soon learns that it is not just the familiar architecture that infiltrates her memories.
Designed as an open network of boulevards and generous vistas and named for the first president, Washington was built on ten acres surrounding the Potomac River, beginning in 1790. Until the completion of Washington, Philadelphia was the young nation's capital city. Maryland abuts three sides of Washington, with Virginia on the fourth. Land on the Virginia side was returned to Washington in 1834, extending the size of the capital and setting it firmly between North and South. When it was reorganized with adjacent Georgetown, Washington became coextensive with the District of Columbia and encompassed 61 square acres.
With the small tax base of its mostly economically challenged citizenry, and unable to tax federal property, Washington struggles with urban blight and crime. Unlike more prosperous professionals and government employees who tend to live in the surrounding suburbs of Virginia and Maryland, Bethany lives within the confines of DC, in the eclectic neighborhood of Adams-Morgan. While the metropolitan area has a population of four million, less than one-sixth live in the District itself. Yet, tourism remains the major industry for this national center, with half of all residents being employed by the government.
There are a myriad of architectural and historic sights contained in Washington, all within a few miles of each other. Imagined and designed by William Thornton at the end of the 1700s, the Capitol Building is a neoclassic building of impressive scale. This seat of the nation's government caps off the sweeping esplanade of the Washington Mall, bordered by such imposing buildings as the Smithsonian Institute and the Air and Space Museum. At the other end of the Mall is the commanding obelisk of the Washington Monument and the massive and stirring rendering of the 16th president in the Lincoln Memorial. Every day on her way to work, Bethany glimpses the simple and temple-like design of the White House, which was commissioned by George Washington to Irish-born architect James Hoban in 1792.
It is to an upscale neighborhood in the city of London, called Kensington, that Bethany O’Brien briefly sojourns with Ahmad, before fleeing the city for Italy. From the Tower of London, to Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben, Picadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square, London is recognized for a variety of landmarks and monuments. But it is also her neighborhoods and people that make this capital of the United Kingdom a diverse and unique location. A trip along the tube (underground subway system) is perhaps the most direct way to evoke images of places most British: Charing Cross, Marble Arch, Bond Street, Covent Garden, Sloane Square, St. James Park, Westminster, Earl’s Court, King’s Cross, and Kensington High Street. Bethany can see this fashionable street from her hotel window. Kensington High Street runs alongside Kensington Palace and Gardens, the former residence of Princess Diana, just across from Royal Albert Hall. The other end of the street encompasses hostels and hotels, as well as luxury and bargain shopping.
The city of London has an official population of 7.5 million and is the most populous city within city limits of the European Union. The city’s metropolitan area claims some 12 to 14 million citizens. For over 2,000 years, London has been an important factor in the shifting boundaries of Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Norman, Medieval and Renaissance Europe. For Bethany, it is a doorway to Europe and the location that will challenge her understanding of who she once was.
Bethany and Derek Martin must venture to Urbino to apprehend the mysterious copper vessel, now in the possession of Cort Riebling, a dealer in black market antiquities. They will stay for only two nights before departing abruptly for Cairo, prodded by the discovery of a gruesome murder.
Divided into four provinces, Pesaro-Urbino to the north, Ancona, Macerata and Ascoli Piceno to the south, the Marche extends from the Adriatic coast in the east to the Sibillini Mountain chain of the Appenines in the west. From north to south, the region is characterized by gently rolling hills and fertile valleys that run east to west from the sea to the mountains. Along these valleys, four-lane highways connect the seaboard and the A14, the major north-south highway, to the interior, making it possible to swim in the sea in the morning and relax in the shade of an alpine forest in the afternoon. The 9,694 square kilometers of the Marche are populated with 2,120,000 people, mostly employed in the service and artisan industry.
Although there have been artifacts found on Mount Conero dating 100,000 years ago, it wasn't until the ninth century BC that a permanent settling of the Marche took place. The "Picenus," a people of controversial origin, settled in the southern part of the region having followed a sacred bird, a woodpecker (in Latin "picus" thus the name "Picenus"). The 50 necropolis founded by the Picenus clearly indicate that these people were divided into tribes, each independently ruled and having its own language. The Picenus were unable to form a political administration and continued to live in separate city-states. Overpowered by the Galls and the Athenians in 395 BC, the only remaining memory of these people is in the city of Ascoli Picenus (renamed Ascoli Piceno after Italy's Unification).
In the 15th century, Duke Federico of Montefeltro, a swashbuckling mercenary, refurbished Urbino into an early model of the ideal Renaissance town. His palace was a study in early Renaissance palazzi. The streets are cobbled; the roofs, terra-cotta; the cuisine, lamb, rabbit, swine, and cheese. And, best of all, Urbino remains relatively undiscovered.
In the ancient city of Cairo, Bethany will finally confront her previous incarnation as the Asima Uruk, the priestess called Lina. Nasira, a member of the Veil of Thoth, guides Bethany and Derek through a vibrant Cairo souk, or open-air market, and into a recreation of Egypt in the time of Solomon.
Cairo, a mystical and bustling melange of past and present, is the capital city of Egypt. This land in Northern Africa borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea north of Sudan, and includes the Asian Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is roughly three times the size of New Mexico and is in a time zone that is seven hours ahead of Washington, DC. Ninety percent of Egyptians are Muslims (mostly Sunni), nine percent are Coptic, and one percent is Christian. Since the time of the Pharoahs, Egypt has depended on the bounty of the Nile River flood basins to become one of the world’s great civilizations.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Zubis awaits Bethany at the royal palace in Riyadh. He is bound to remain close to his copper vessel still held by the heir to the throne. It is written in literary and mythologic sources that the djinn can speed over land and across time to transmit themselves; as Zubis does when he visits Bethany, first in Washington and later in Italy. But complete physical freedom is not possible, as long as they are attached to their vessels.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman AL SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. A male descendent of Ibn Saud, his son ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz, rules the country today as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law.
Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism.
King Abdallah has continued the cautious reform program begun when he was crown prince. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide from February through April 2005 for half the members of 179 municipal councils. In December 2005, King Abdallah completed the process by appointing the remaining members of the advisory municipal councils. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds approximately 25 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in December 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the kingdom. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all ongoing governmental concerns.
Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia and seat of the Kingdom. The name Riyadh is derived from the Arabic word meaning a place of gardens and trees ("rawdah"). With many wadis (a former water course, now dry) in the vicinity, Riyadh has been since antiquity a fertile area set in the heartland of the Arabian peninsula. The city, peopled by 4.7 million across its 600 square miles, is a testament to the influx of oil money, sweeping modern architecture, and great sweeping tracks of highways that seem to fly, like the legendary carpets of this ancient place.
Meda'in Saleh, Saudi Arabia
In the final scene of A Genie in the House of Saud, a third copper vessel is looted from Meda'in Saleh, where it has languished for 3,000 years. Fatih, the rebel soldier who runs his hand over its oddly smooth surface has no idea of the anger within.
The southern capital of a Nabatean trading kingdom that flourished two millennia ago, Meda’in Saleh is approximately 1,000 km northwest of Riyadh. Its northern sister city Petra, the eerie location for the final scenes of the 1989 film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” is the centerpiece of neighboring Jordan's tourist industry and attracts half a million people a year. Yet, Meda’in Saleh remains still and abandoned, supposedly cursed with the presence of djinn that hover over the 131 tombs, walls, towers, and cisterns.
The 50 to 100 foreign tourists who visit this site each year find ornate religious symbols that were chipped into the sandstone 2,000 years ago; nearby volcanic mountains that are decorated with the 10,000-year-old art of prehistoric hunters; a palm-filled oasis; and an abandoned mudhouse village. For centuries, pilgrims trekking south to Makkah would not approach the enclave and would even turn their gazes from the cliff. In the 20th century, the kingdom's religious scholars decreed that residents living close to the ancient tombs should be relocated.