Campouts and Flubber Pancakes: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

Campouts and Flubber Pancakes: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

BY Rick Snedeker / /

Growing up in Dhahran, I was trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Except maybe for obedient, thrifty and, almost certainly, brave. As a Boy Scout, after all, I took our Scout Law seriously. Sort of.

Death in the Afternoon: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

Death in the Afternoon: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

BY Rick Snedeker / /

Tragedy seemed somehow inappropriate in perpetually sunny Dhahran, like the sudden death of a child on a bright, carefree afternoon. Indeed, only rarely did the horsemen of private apocalypse deign to descend on our community.

Dhahran: the Oasis: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

Dhahran: the Oasis: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

BY Rick Snedeker / /

Amid East-coast Saudi Arabia’s desolate terrain, Dhahran, barely two or three miles square, stood out, a green exclamation in the endless tan. Even by the early 1950s, Dhahran’s camp forest of imported, multinational trees...

Khobar, Going to Town: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

Khobar, Going to Town: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

BY Rick Snedeker / /

In the old days, the only other pockets of “civilization” in the area besides Dhahran were the indigenous Saudi towns of Dammam and Al-Khobar, one hour and 15 minutes away, respectively, and the Aramco camps of Ras Tanura...

The Saudi Adventure Begins: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

The Saudi Adventure Begins: Vignette from '3,001 Arabian Days'

BY Rick Snedeker / /

By 1950 the horrors of World War II had largely receded, and America dominated the brave new, post-war world. The promising oilfields wildcatted just before the war by American geologists in the arid, menacing Arabian wastelands...

Bahrain Holiday 1938: Part 6 of Distant Arabia

Bahrain Holiday 1938: Part 6 of Distant Arabia

BY Tim Barger / /

Oil men from Dhahran travel to Bahrain for a weekend. They visit the suq, the vast artesian wells of the island and then assemble for a demonstration of Bahraini stick fighting. The agricultural workers were prohibited from owning weapons so much like the Japanese practitioners of Kendo...

Well Fire at Number 12: Part 5 of Distant Arabia

Well Fire at Number 12: Part 5 of Distant Arabia

BY Tim Barger / /

Well #12 was down to 4,725 feet and cemented in when on July 8, 1939 while preparing to perforate the casing, the perforating gun accidentally discharged setting off a conflagration that destroyed the rig and took the lives of five drillers - two American and three Saudis.

Bahrain in 1938: Part 4 of Distant Arabia

Bahrain in 1938: Part 4 of Distant Arabia

BY Tim Barger / /

Distant Arabia part 4 - Bahrain in 1938 In 1938, Bahrain was the undisputed commercial center of the Gulf. Its suqs were the best stocked of any place between Basra and Bombay. In contrast, the Bedouin of Al Hasa lived a simple life in tents and dependent on their camels.

May 1st, 1939: Part 3 of Distant Arabia

May 1st, 1939: Part 3 of Distant Arabia

BY Tim Barger / /

Distant Arabia part 3 - May 1st, 1939: Six years after the oil concession was signed the first tanker load of oil was shipped at Ras Tanura on this date. King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud arrived to celebrate the occasion. The tanker D.G. Scofield awaits offshore.

Pearl Diving in the Gulf - 1938: Part 2 of Distant Arabia

Pearl Diving in the Gulf - 1938: Part 2 of Distant Arabia

BY Tim Barger / /

We invite you to enjoy part 2 of the 12 part Distant Arabia video series. Next to dates, pearls were the biggest business in Al Hasa. Though the boom days of the 20s were long gone due to the Depression and the introduction of cultured pearls there was still a sizeable fleet.

Desert Explorers: Part 1 of Distant Arabia

Desert Explorers: Part 1 of Distant Arabia

BY Tim Barger / /

We invite you to enjoy part 1 of the 12 part Distant Arabia video series. The majority of the film clips are comprised of films taken in Saudi Arabia between 1937 and 1940 by Tom Barger, Les Snyder and Jerry Harriss. They are among the few moving pictures that record that critical and brief moment in the country's history when an ancient pastoral way of life was coming to an abrupt end, to be replaced by an industrial society.

John Ames

John Ames

BY Tim Barger / /

On May 1st 1939 King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud inaugurated the first tanker load of Saudi oil at Ras Tanura, two months later the well being drilled at Dammam #12 exploded into a blazing inferno killing five Americans and Saudis. Burning eight thousand barrels of oil a day, the well was lost but if the blowout continued the whole field was threatened because it might lose reservoir pressure so that the oil would have to be pumped out at great expense.

Walking to Ras Tanura

Walking to Ras Tanura

BY Tim Barger / /

In 1964 on yet another misguided adventure, my great friend Ben Michaels, his older brother Roger and I decided it would be a great idea to walk to Ras Tanura. We ate a giant dinner at the Dining Hall and set off with one water bottle. The first 10 miles are a breeze as we march through the desert into the dusk.

Welcome to Riyadh

Welcome to Riyadh

BY Tim Barger / /

In the 1970s the airports in Saudi Arabia were actually near their cities. Dhahran International was at the airbase a few miles from camp. The Riyadh and Jeddah airports were right in town with their entrances just off the street. After the price of oil quadrupled in 1973 Riyadh was awash in Petrodollars and deluged with thousands of businessmen, contractors, experts, carpet baggers and schemers from all over the world...

BOAC - First Steps

BOAC - First Steps

BY Tim Barger / /

It’s amazing how far the attitude towards smoking has changed in 50 years. In the 1950s I remember going with my mother to the doctor and after my exam, the two of them would be smoking like fiends as they discussed my current affliction awhile.

The Tri-D Swim Meet

The Tri-D Swim Meet

BY Tim Barger / /

As a child growing up in Dhahran in the early 1950s, I had an unrequited obsession with sugar – the more the better. At the time, the Dhahran commissary didn’t have much beyond Droste chocolate and O’Henry bars, Khobar had even less to offer. Hard candies and hopelessly expired candies from England such as Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles...

Hooky

Hooky

BY Tim Barger / /

For some unknown reason, throughout my life, various circumstances have led me into unusual situations. Perhaps the drummer I was marching to played Stockhausen on the snares, but it began early in life. I was born in Dhahran in 1947 where I lived at 1134 Hamilton House...

Think Ahead

Think Ahead

BY Tim Barger / /

Think ahead. Be prepared. Always have a plan B. These are the kind of concepts that my dad tried to pound in my head, and probably your parents too. How hard could it be to remember them? The first two consist of only two words. Pithy, sound advice, except that when you are 17 who needs advice?

Salt Tablet Lake

Salt Tablet Lake

BY Tim Barger / /

Half Moon Bay! What can I say? Living in 1950s Aramco, it was paradise. Not as much for the Ras Tanurans who lived at the beach, but for those of us in Dhahran living on the rocky jabal or the citizens of Abqaiq, planted deep within a vast sand dune field thirty miles from the coast, Half Moon Bay spelled happiness.

Special Techniques

Special Techniques

BY Tim Barger / /

Readers of my various stories will know by now that I have a fondness for special techniques. The planning and tactics I applied at the age of six to procure grape-flavored Jello from the highest cabinet in the kitchen was perfectly executed only to end in ruin.