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By Michael Sheldon Cheney

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It took quite a bit of taming; but it was worth it, considering the oil that was later found under its inhospitable sands. Finally, in the 1920's, he swung west toward the Red Sea to conquer the Hejaz with its holy cities of Mecca and Medina thus greatly inconveniencing the incumbent Hashemite dynasty, which moved to hastily formed new states in Iraq and Jordan. The acquisition of a kingdom, his biographers tell us, accidental by-product of Ibn Saud's reli- was an almost gious zeal. The House of Saud had long been the standard-bearers of the puritanical Wahabi movement, which believed in the strict word of The Book and advocated as thicker veils for women and the suppression of lascivious pleasures like music and dancing.

They liked it that way," the lecturer pointed out. "It's a rugged life out in that desert; but it has its compensations. The Arabs never heard of ulcers until the Americans came, and didn't know what a nervous breakdown was. " In all truth, there was little enough in this desert retreat to attract the eyes of covetous foreigners. While siders, colonialism in one guise or another swallowed up their neighbors, the desert Arabs escaped unwelcome attention. A few ports under For a while the Turks, who were at least fellow Muslims, achieved a partial and insecure occupation of some coastal areas; but even they were soon and islands along Arabia's fringes fell British protection.

An attempted Roman invasion went down to parched defeat in its sands, the ravaging Mongol hordes turned away from its waterless wastes, the wily Crusaders left it strictly alone. These defenses also served as insulation against alien ways and thoughts. It was already a sequestered world into which Muhammad, Messenger of the One True Faith, was born. His Muslim religion completed its isolation. 32 BIG OIL MAN For one glorious moment the inspired adherents of Islam stormed out of their desert stronghold to conquer half the then known world.

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Big oil man from Arabia by Michael Sheldon Cheney

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