Made in...the Arab East: A Special Issue
This issue of Aramco World is a survey of industry in the Arab East—industry, that is, other than oil.
Oil, of course, is the paramount industry in the Arab East, as all the world now knows. But as we attempt to show here, it is by no means the only industry. Arabs today roll steel and extrude aluminum, assemble automobiles, build ships and overhaul jets. Off assembly lines manned by Arabs come refrigerators, antibiotics, television sets, detergents, plastics and telephones. In deserts that were un explored barely 50 years ago stand ground stations linked to satellites in space. And in cities virtually unknown a decade ago, graduates of the world’s finest universities feed data into purring computers and Telex pivotal balances to the financial centers in Zurich, London and New York,
To anyone who knew the Arab East ten years ago, such statements may sound at least exaggerated, if not preposterous—and their reservations are valid. No one who knew the area then could overlook the impact of recurrent military and political turmoil and radical economic upheaval. Nor could they minimize what to industrial development were even more difficult obstacles: strong individualism, widespread resistance to organizational methods and structures, and differing attitudes toward education and work.
Some reservations are still valid since, despite demonstrable progress, the sometimes brilliant achievements of engineers, administrators and planners often collapse at the lathe, the switchboard and the filing cabinet.
Nevertheless, the Arab East is industrializing. There is simply no denying the realities of the factories, shipyards, air terminals, dry-docks, dams, schools and power plants visited, inspected, described and photographed in this survey. They’re there, they’re real and they’re Arab.
Furthermore, while parts of this survey lean heavily on impressions, observations, and estimates, serious efforts to verify all data were made and our conclusions, we believe, are sound. Despite staggering disadvantages, the Arab East in the last decade has struggled up from what in some cases were virtually primitive levels to the verge of an economic renaissance that is already transforming the Arab world and in the near future will have a measurable impact on the Western world as well.
— THE EDITORS