We invite you to enjoy part 5 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. Many of the Bedouin depicted had never seen an automobile let alone a movie camera before these men arrived. The herds of camels, once the lifeblood of Bedouin life, would become irrelevant. The dhows of the Gulf replaced by motor launches, the date oases, the very anchor of the Al Hasa economy, would become all but insignificant. All that remains of those days are these flickering images from a time before oil.

Distant Arabia part 5 - Well Fire at #12 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. At 0:31 the stabilizer plant can be seen to the right. Unable to get professional oil well firefighters to the scene in time the men of Casoc reversed the pipeline to Khobar to bring saltwater to Dhahran and fought the fire themselves. At 1:30 the firefighters are driven back by the heat. At 1:46 they regroup to attack again. Notice the complete lack of protective equipment save for gloves and hats and gutras soaked in water. The fire raged for ten days before it was extinguished by a combination of ingenuity and courageous perseverance.

More Stories – Tim Barger
ISBN: 978-0988205017
246 pages, $14.95

part 4 part 6