Arabic scholar and award-winning travel writer Tim Mackintosh-Smith’s TV series on BBC4, Travels with a Tangerine features the Maldives. The three-part TV series on BBC4 on Ibn Battutah's travels from Morocco to China, features segment on Maldives that revisits and captivates Ibn Battutah’s account of his journey through the speck of land in the Indian Ocean islands of Maldives some 800 years ago, where he took no less than 4 wives from the Indian ocean islands.
Tim’s Travels with a Tangerine explores the place of Islam in Hindu-dominated India and Communist China, and tells the story of the glittering Islamic trade empire of the 14th century. Travelling from Gujarat to Calicut he witnesses the ritual dance of the Indian Abyssinians, which culminates in a fire-walking frenzy. In the Maldives, Tim explores Ibn Battutah's claim that he had discovered the secret of formidable sexual prowess. Taking to the Maritime Silk Route, Tim heads to China, where he meets a clan who trace their ancestry back to Arabs, and witnesses an illegal Arabic lesson - the authorities are quick to equate learning Arabic with Islamic fundamentalism.
Tim states: “On a speck of land in the Indian Ocean, however, I found a different sort of tradition from Ibn Battutah's time alive and well. During his 18-month stay in Malé, capital island of the Maldives, the traveller had married no fewer than four wives. After a fall from favour, he divorced the lot of them and made his getaway, via the outlying island of Mulaku, of which he says, without missing a beat, ‘I stayed there 70 days and married two wives’.
“Today, Mulaku is still a matrimonial paradise. The islanders introduced me to their champion marrier, a tiny man (with an extraordinary voice, deeper than Barry White's) who, they claimed, had tied the knot 10 times. I asked him if this was true. Yes, he said - then went on, also without missing a beat: ‘And that was in just one year'.