The Arabian Sun

K.S.A. 100 YEARS

Published weekly by Saudi Arabian Oil Company Public Relations, Rm. 2211, Administration Bldg. E., Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, www.saudiaramco.com
Vol. LIV, No. 30 • Week of August 11, 1999 Telephone 874-7322, 873-8993 • FAX 875-2270 • ISSN: 1319-156X

New Executives Elected To Petron Positions
Petron Corporation, Saudi Aramco’s joint venture in the Philippines, has new company executives in its ranks. Khalid A. Al-Falih was recently elected Petron president, while Abdullatif A. Al-Othman and Ziad S. Labban were elected to the Petron Board of Directors. Labban was also elected vice president, Corporate Planning, at Petron, concurrent with his directorship. Al-Falih succeeded Ali A. Ajmi, who remained a Petron director. Al-Falih was manager of the BusiS ee ‘ Petron, ’ p a g e e i g h t

Khalid A. Al-Falih

Abdullatif A. Al-Othman

Ziad S. Labban King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz posed in Riyadh for this special issue of LIFE magazine.

May 1943: LIFE Looks At the Kingdom
Over a half-century ago, LIFE magazine published a major cover story on King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Al Sa‘ud and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was the first time American readers were given a close-up look at a ruler and country previously cloaked in mystery as far as the West was concerned, yet coming to play an increasingly important role on the world stage. The article appeared in LIFE’s May 31, 1943, issue. World War II was raging in Europe, North Africa and the Far East. LIFE magazine, the weekly large-format newsmagazine best known for its impressive photography, was in its seventh year, and was arguably the most influential
S ee ‘ LIFE, ’ p a g e fo u r

At the end of its long journey to the Riyadh Refinery, the big new boiler unit was carefully jacked up and then slid onto its permanent base. Photos by Faisal Al-Dossairy

Geotextile Applied to Shedgum Gas Plant Fire Water Pipes
Shedgum Gas Plant recently began wrapping geotextile material around underground fire water piping in a pioneering effort to solve sudden settlement problems due to water leaks inside hydrocarbon process areas. Consulting Services’ Civil Engineering Unit, Southern Area Projects and Shedgum Gas Plant’s Engineering Division jointly developed the application. The geotextile is made of polypropylene material that is resistant to microorganisms in the soil. Wrapping the pipes in the material stabilizes the sand and prevents washouts of sand and gravel in the event of leaks because the material causes the pressure of the leaks to be distributed over a larger area and allows water — but not sand — to filter through. Currently, the material is being applied to underground fire water
S ee ‘ Shedgum, ’ p a g e f i v e

Giant Boiler Unit Reaches Riyadh Refinery
Riyadh Refinery’s huge new boiler unit and its accompanying economizer equipment — one of the largest package boiler units ever built — reached its final destination this week. The trek of the immense machinery turned heads all the way from the Mitsubishi yard in Japan where it was fabricated, through the ports of Yokohama and Jubail, and along the open roads between Jubail and Riyadh. The boiler unit is equivalent in size to a three-story building
S ee ‘ Boiler, ’ p a g e e i g h t

The Arabian Sun
LIFE . . .
(continued f rom page one)

mass-market publication in the United States. LIFE magazine found its special niche in American journalism as a direct result of the development of highly portable 35-millimeter cameras in the 1930s – a new technology that gave greater maneuverability to news photographers and expanded the horizons of their coverage. LIFE pioneered a new type of reportage – the “photo essay,” or telling a story with still pictures. LIFE editor Noel F. Busch and LIFE photographer Robert Landry were invited to visit the Kingdom by King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz himself. Never before had Western journalists been officially permitted to visit the capital Riyadh; the two men were granted unprecedented personal access to the King and the Royal Family. Busch and Landry returned to New York with the first Western journalistic account of what LIFE described as “this remarkable country.” Their story is particularly worth revisiting during the Kingdom’s Centennial, which marks the first hundred years of the modern state unified, developed and nurtured by King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and his sons. At the outset of their journey, the two American journalists flew from Cairo to the Red Sea port of Jiddah, where King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz had arranged for a motor convoy to take his guests across the desert to Riyadh. In the capital, Busch and Landry adopted Saudi dress to show respect for local customs. They met with King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz three times, and he granted Busch a formal interview for publication. After five days in Riyadh and at al-Kharj, 54 miles (87 kilometers) to the south, Bush and Landry headed for Dhahran, headquarters of the California Arabian Standard Oil Company

King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz is pictured with several of his sons at Murabba‘ Palace, which LIFE called “by far the most impressive thing in the capital.”

A view of a natural well at al-Kharj, south of Riyadh, which the LIFE correspondents passed en route to Dhahran.

(Casoc), forerunner of Saudi Aramco. From Dhahran, they flew back to Cairo via Basra and Baghdad — a long journey that Busch described as “interesting but uncomfortable.” The journalists’ adventure in Saudi Arabia and the formal interview with King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, appeared as the LIFE cover — price per copy: 10 cents. LIFE devoted 20 pages to the story, lavishly illustrated with photos that captured the flavor of the times. At the heart of the article was a profile of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz himself. The article also described life in Riyadh and recounted the story of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s dramatic capture of the city 100 years ago. LIFE discussed King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s “partnership” with the United States, and in that context described the operations of Saudi Aramco predecessor Casoc, which the author said “far surpassed” any other major business concern in the Arabian Peninsula. Casoc’s activities “would be impressive even in a community like California,” Busch wrote. “The company’s efforts to work its find on a large scale, somewhat delayed by the war, are now being forwarded again and constitute a notable fraction of the … war effort,” LIFE said. “Meanwhile, its presence in Arabia is welcome for many reasons in addition to financial ones.” Casoc’s machine shops in Dhahran made “handy repair bases” for the Government’s automobiles. Casoc engineers also were helping with

an agricultural land reclamation project at alKharj “and in many other ways,” wrote Busch. “Shallow water wells have been Arabia’s chief problem since the dawn of history,” the magazine noted. “These are of course child’s play for the oil drillers for whom sinking them through the sand has now become a routine chore, charged off to good relations with the landlord.” The high level of cordiality between King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and Casoc was illustrated months before when the King paid a visit to the company’s headquarters in Dhahran. The King honored Casoc’s resident manager by inviting him to the royal camp that had been set up nearby in the desert. “Later in the evening,” Busch reported, “the King gave the oil men a banquet preceded by an Arab sword dance.” When the May 31 issue finally appeared, a Robert Landry photograph of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz graced the cover, with the caption: “Ibn Saud: LIFE Visits Him in Arabia.” It was Landry’s 10th cover photo for LIFE – he would go on to rack up a total of 19 LIFE covers during his career. Busch eventually became known as a writer of political biographies and Asian history. It would be six years before LIFE did another major article on Saudi Arabia – and then it would be a close-up look at Casoc’s successor, the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) in Dhahran. – Bob Lebling

The LIFE magazine writer and photographer started their visit to the Kingdom in Jiddah, where this picture was taken.

Discovery Well Dammam No. 7 in Dhahran drew LIFE photographer Robert Landry.

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August 11, 1999