Tales of the Bedouin – Part XIV: The Lost City of Wabar

Tales of the Bedouin – Part XIV: The Lost City of Wabar

BY Mark Lowey / /

Atlantis of the Sands? A lost city? A meteorite impact site? For years, the mystery of Wabar fascinated a young associate professor of geology at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran. This is the story of his travels to the site – in Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter...

"Dear Folks": Chapter 16

"Dear Folks": Chapter 16

BY Ken Slavin / /

The second half of 1954 is a time of great change for the Webster family as younger daughter Susan leaves Dhahran at the tender age of 13 to attend boarding school in Switzerland. With older daughter Judy still at the American Community School in Beirut, it is Ken and Mildred’s first taste of “empty nest syndrome” and they have decidedly mixed feelings about it.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 15

"Dear Folks": Chapter 15

BY Ken Slavin / /

Newly crowned King Saud arrives in Dhahran for an extended stay during the first week of January 1954, followed by a long hunting trip throughout the Kingdom. Dhahran District Manager Ken Webster reports on His Majesty’s visit in detail and continues his regular family correspondence describing daily Aramco operations and newsworthy developments.

Grass Gatherers Above Pokhara, Nepal

Grass Gatherers Above Pokhara, Nepal

BY Mark Lowey / /

In September 1979, Mark Lowey completed a nearly two-year stint working in the oil fields of the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia. Together with a colleague, he traveled to Kathmandu and then Pokhara, the gateway to the Himalayas’ Annapurna region in cemtral Nepal.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 14

"Dear Folks": Chapter 14

BY Ken Slavin / /

1953 is a memorable year in the history books. Most notably for Aramcons, it is the year when King Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, dies in the fall at the age of 73. His son, Crown Prince Saud, is named the new king by the royal family and another son, Faisal, is named crown prince.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 13

"Dear Folks": Chapter 13

BY Ken Slavin / /

Ken and Mildred Webster presented their younger daughter, Susan, with her own horse for her 12th birthday in January 1953. This was truly a momentous occasion in Susan’s childhood, as she was “horse crazy” from an early age and spent most of her free time riding and honing her horsemanship at The Hobby Farm for years prior to this special gift.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 12

"Dear Folks": Chapter 12

BY Ken Slavin / /

"The chief topic of conversation out here now is that the government has decreed NO MORE LIQUOR – ain't that something?" Crown Prince Saud pays a visit and Ken Webster and his daughters have an audience with him; Ken goes to Harvard Business School; Judy Webster graduates at top of her class from Dhahran Senior Staff School and goes to American Community School in Beirut.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 11

"Dear Folks": Chapter 11

BY Ken Slavin / /

For Aramco, it is another year of record-breaking growth and oil production.  And for Ken Webster, it is a year of exceptional professional achievement.  In the spring of that year, he is appointed Dhahran District Manager, a post he will hold for more than six years.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 10

"Dear Folks": Chapter 10

BY Ken Slavin / /

"There is a rumor of a big stir-up out here!" Another job change and more responsibility for Ken Webster, the family’s first local leave, the opening of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, the continued expansion of Aramco in all parts of the Kingdom, and worldwide headlines for a former company secretary who swims the English Channel.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 9

"Dear Folks": Chapter 9

BY Ken Slavin / /

As Acting Manager of Aramco’s Transportation Department, Ken Webster embarks on many travels throughout Saudi Arabia in 1950 and describes them in detail to the folks back home in the States. From observations on the new Dammam deepwater port (a project to which his brother, Allyn, an assistant engineer, is assigned) to interesting descriptions of visits with Aramco exploration teams in the Empty Quarter, to tours of the King’s farms, to “lessons” in Muslim law and religious ceremonies, his fascination with and respect for the Arabs and Aramco shine through in every word.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 8

"Dear Folks": Chapter 8

BY Ken Slavin / /

In stark contrast to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East and worldwide headlines describing fighting, bombings and the flight of up to half a million Palestinians from their homeland to refugee camps – sparked by the U.N. vote to partition the region two years earlier -- 1949 is a year of enormous expansion and success for Aramco, professional growth for Ken Webster and exotic travel for the Webster family.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 7

"Dear Folks": Chapter 7

BY Ken Slavin / /

The remainder of 1948 is full of exponential growth for Aramco (more than 4,000 American and 17,000 Arab employees by mid-year), royal and military visits, and a social schedule that would cripple most.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 6

"Dear Folks": Chapter 6

BY Ken Slavin / /

1948 shapes up to be another boom year for Aramco. Mildred Webster continues to chronicle her family's lives and interesting tales from Arabia. Ken Webster even manages to augment her faithful correspondence with a letter about some of his responsibilities as manager of Aramco's construction department.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 5

"Dear Folks": Chapter 5

BY Ken Slavin / /

Mildred Webster continues to be a faithful correspondent as she settles into the new house in Dhahran, works on committees and keeps up with the increasing “social whirl” that is expected of the wife of an up-and-coming Aramco executive. 

Desert Designs - Celebrating 30 Years of Distinctive Saudi Design

Desert Designs - Celebrating 30 Years of Distinctive Saudi Design

BY Mark Lowey / /

In this piece, Mark Lowey chronicles the story of Desert Designs and its founders, Qamar Ahmed and Farid Bukhari, who own the unique, family-run interior design studio, home décor gift shop and art gallery, in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, that is dedicated to Saudi culture and Islamic design.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 4

"Dear Folks": Chapter 4

BY Ken Slavin / /

Mildred Webster, the official family “correspondent,” starts off the New Year of 1947 with a full report on Christmas activities in the camps, hopes for the family’s first home leave later in the year, and observations about her husband’s “playing” the Roupee market in Bahrain.

"Dear Folks": Chapter 3

"Dear Folks": Chapter 3

BY Ken Slavin / /

The summer and fall of 1946 turn out to be eventful times for Aramcons. Mildred Webster reports on a polio scare and resulting quarantine in Dhahran; Fourth of July celebrations in the camps; the continued arrival of wives and children from America; Arabia’s first American schoolhouse and the formation of the first Girl Scout troop in the Kingdom...

"Dear Folks": Chapter 2

"Dear Folks": Chapter 2

BY Ken Slavin / /

“It seems like we’ve always been here…” Mildred Webster (known to family and friends as “Mimi”) proves a very thorough, observant and entertaining correspondent. Throwing herself headlong into the new and exciting life of the Aramco camps, she still reports regularly...