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.
In this piece, Mark Lowey chronicles the story of Faisal Al Qahtani, a young falconer from Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, who learned the ancient art of falconry – and life’s lessons – from his remarkable father.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
“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...
Ken Webster began his oil industry career in 1931, shortly after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.
Every now and then, AramcoExPats strikes gold with one of its features. Such was the case back in 2007 when we published a series of letters written by the late Ken Webster, who began his long service with Aramco in 1944, with World War II still raging.
In April 2014, my friend, Suhaim Alsy’ari, invited me to a special event in the desert. I first met Suhaim in 1978, when he was eight years old and I was 23. At that time, Suhaim and his family lived in a humble Bedouin encampment situated close to the remote Aramco construction site...
4491-B. Our house. Ours was one among 12 identical and nondescript single-story dwellings in two linear strings of six duplexes each directly facing each other in our immediate neighborhood, like opposing armies in a battlefield diagram.
My memories of Dhahran often resemble wispy snippets of dreams, lacking linear structure or coherent narrative. Just random gauzy images, glimpses of fleeting emotion, stories with half-finished sentences despite having been retold ad infinitum over the dining table throughout my childhood, and unconscious embellishments slapped on as afterthoughts from my id.
For many Aramcons, servants personified “the good life” in Dhahran. These ever-present helpers performed all the onerous domestic chores everyone abhors, and prepared food and served guests at Aramco communities’ endless, labor-intensive parties.
The cavernous theater in Dhahran was the incubator of my lifelong love of what were once called motion pictures. The movies.
First thing in the morning, I checked in at our admin offices and turned in my passport for safekeeping. The day prior, I had just returned from my first R&R. Now, back at the office...
“Let’s go to Kuwait.” ... “What do you mean?” I asked. ... “We’ll drive to Kuwait on Thursday.” In Steve’s mind, Thursday afternoon would be optimal, as it was the beginning of the weekend, and Fridays were our only full day off...
I went to Stanford University for two years and then quit to enlist in the Army Air Corp. After being discharged from the Air Corp in December 1945, I started working for Standard Oil in California, but after a year with Standard Oil I got as far as I could go without a degree. So, I went back to Stanford from February 1947 to June 1948.