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Volume 19, Number 5 September/October 1968

In This Issue

September/October 1968
Discovery! The Story of Aramco Then: Chapter 5: The Pioneers
Written by Wallace Stegner
Illustrated by Don Thompson

In this fifth installment of Wallace Stegner's history of Aramco's early days in Saudi Arabia, the author pauses to sketch a profile of the small group of hand-picked oil pioneers as they sweat out their first season in the field, recuperate in the mountains of Lebanon, participate in an amusing courtship and, finally, analyze the vital data which will persuade the Standard Oil Company of California that it is time to drill for oil.

High Fashion from the Arab World
Photographed by Burnett H. Moody

The kaftan, an open North African floor length gown, and the abaya, or aba , a long, full Bedouin cloak, are age-old garments which are now inspiring a versatile line of modern adaptations in the Arab world's chic fashion houses. Elegant yet casual, luxurious yet practical, the abayas and kaftans have inspired Beirut designers to create variations for casual, sports and formal wear, in fabrics ranging from colorful terry cloth and plain blanket wool to gold-embroidered.

Some Reflections on Mirages
Written by Daniel Da Cruz

Travelers everywhere have seen mirages—in the Antarctic, in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, in the mountains of Switzerland—but few have stopped to wonder how a simple combination of light waves and heat waves can send visions of exotic palaces across an ocean and create towering mountain ranges so real that veteran explorers have drawn them on their maps.

Retreat to the Wilderness
Written by Jan Van Os
Photographed by T. F. Walters

In the eighth century the Umayyad caliphs built a string of small palaces in the wilderness of present-day Syria and Jordan, remote refuges to which these descendants of Bedouin warriors could retreat from the luxury of Damascus. A drive through the black-flint desert east of Amman still offers—even today—glimpses of the beauty and solitude they sought and found there.

The Toad-Head from Najd and Other Reptiles
Written by James P. Mandaville Jr.

Reptiles, a most adaptable class of creature, do not thrive only in swamps and jungles; through evolution many species also flourish in the extreme conditions of the desert. The sands of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, for example, support a fascinating variety of things that creep and crawl, from helpful household pets to venomous vipers, from dragons in miniature to sub-sand submarines.

Wool of Bat and Tongue of Dog
Written by Leslie Farmer
Illustrated by Don Thompson

Autumn and the harvest bring Halloween to mind, that yearly reminder that even in sophisticated societies there survive superstitions from an age when man first tried to impose order on a universe he did not understand. Whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, beliefs from the past are hard to lay to rest, even, as writer Leslie Farmer wryly points out, among the most eminent men of science.