The Farasan Islands are now one of the gems of the Red Sea, their coral reefs are amazing and I managed to find this picture of one of the beaches on these islands and it makes you think what life must have been like 93 years ago:
The book starts:
"The liner was six days out from Djibouti. The Mediterranean was greenish under a rainy sky, the wind was cold and penetrably damp, and the sun died by inches as we got farther from the Equator.
I had been parked among a horde of Malagasys, who huddled together in sheltered corners, getting every day more morose, like sick beasts. I wondered what the poor devils would think of the mud and snow of the trenches."
Somehow the writer seemed to escape the war by getting injured and being 'allowed' to travel to the Red Sea to start a pearling business. I'm not sure entirely how he did this but the picture above does seem preferable to the trenches.
I found the following article about de Monfreid.
Sounds like he lived a pretty interesting life (and I have quite a rare book!)