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Volume 28, Number 6November/December 1977

In This Issue

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Everything—And The Kitchen Sink

Nowhere is the scope of Middle Eastern development demonstrated more dramatically than in the variety of products delivered to the Middle East by truck.

"Cargoes include everything from a suitcase of personal effects to a whole factory", says Tony Soameson, a British trucking executive.

Initially, Soameson said, most of the goods delivered to the Middle East were related to oil production. But the past few years have seen a significant switch to consumer products, so that today trucks to and from the Middle East are carrying everything—almost literally—from A to Z. Some examples:

A for After-shave: British trucker Spiers and Hartwell began Middle East deliveries in 1974. Their first cargo was a consignment of after-shave lotion for Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.

B for Bathtubs: Cannans Transport Ltd. regularly haul bathroom fittings from the British "potteries" to Kuwait. Once, though, they delivered 20 tons of rubber bands to a canning factory in Iraq.

C for Crane: In 1975 Herman Ludwig (Nederland) BV. diverted its entire 10-truck, Rotterdam-based fleet to Saudi Arabia. Cargoes have included airplane tires from France and  23-ton mobile crane from Holland.

D for Desalination Plant: Drinking water in Qatar is provided by a desalination plant delivered from Britain by truck. Other overland consignments for Qatar have included an out door color television unit complete with mobile studio.

E for Excavators: Hydraulic excavators used to extend irrigation systems in north Afghanistan were transported by a convoy of six low-loaders. The 4,800-mile journey from South Wales to the Russian-Afghan border took 21 days.

F for Furniture: Because trucks offer door-to-door service, the furniture and other household effects of diplomats and businessmen transferred to the Middle East often go by road. So does Italian furniture to be sold in shops in Saudi Arabia.

G for Gas Turbines: Three 18-ton Ruston and Hornsby gas turbines, to help boost oil flow by pipeline from Mosul to the Mediterranean, were delivered by Astran International to the Iraq Petroleum Company. The same firm has also trucked gymnasium equipment to Iran.

H for Hairdryers: A $2.5-million consignment of Ronson cigarette lighters, electric shavers and hairdryers was transported on five 36-foot trailers to Kuwait. A helicopter that crashed on Das Island was taken to Britain for repairby truck.

I for Insulation: One of the longest convoys ever to make the Middle East run17 vehiclesdelivered pipeline insulation to Saudi Arabia.

J for Jet Engine: The first-ever Concorde engine to travel by road was trucked 3,640 miles from Britain to Iran for display at the 1975 Tehran International Trade Fair.

K for Kitchen Sink: Not only the sink, but all types of household appliances are delivered regularly by road to the Middle East, even as far as Oman. Equipment and fittings for hotels and offices are also transported by truck.

L for Linotype: One of the first cargoes trucked east was a consignment of Linotype letterpresses. Considered a dubious exercise in 1964, the eventual success of the 5,000-mile London-to-Kabul run helped pave the way for today's Middle East trucking boom.

M for Money: Currency minted in western Europe for a Middle Eastern nation in delivered by truck. For security reasons, shippers withhold additional details.

N for Nuts: Mars, for their bars, backload hazelnuts from Turkey in British trailers homeward-bound from the Middle East. Cadburys keep Arab customers supplied with chocolate by refrigerated truck.

O for Oil Pumps: Drills for boring wells, pumps for extracting oil, and marine terminal equipment for loading it onto tankers appear regularly on Middle East manifests. Until Saudi ports were cleared, Aramco alone took delivery of an average 20 tons each day of truck-transported equipment and supplies from western Europe.

P for Pea-Processing Plant: Astran International hauled four truckloads of British-made equipment for a new pea-processing plant in Mzeirib, Syria. Scandinavian prefabricated homes are ferried across the Baltic to Gdansk and transported by Polish trucks to Saudi Arabia.

Q for Quinine: Quinine and other pharmaceuticals are carried regularly by truck from West Germany and Italy to the Middle East.

R for Rolls-Royce: A three-and-a-half-ton Rolls-Royce limousine was delivered by trailer from London to the palace motor pool in Tehran for the Shah of Iran.

S for Sand: Thirteen-and-a-half-tons of coarse-grain sand were trucked from Britain to Baghdad for water purification. And, weighing in at36 tons, a stone sorter and crusher delivered by Schenker & Co. A.G. from Wels in Upper Austria to Beirut was one of the heaviest single loads ever transported east by truck.

T for Transformer: Another heavyweight was a 31-ton General Electric transformer to provide additional power in Dammam. The 4,100-mile journey from Britain to Saudi Arabia by special heavy-duty truck took 23 days. And if you are driving through Riyadh, watch out for the traffic lights... even they came by truck.

U for Underwater Equipment: Besides commercial diving equipment, snorkling, spear-fishing and scuba-diving gear for underwater recreation are trucked to Middle Eastern countries.

V for Vateras: One of the fastest deliveries to the Middle East was a consignment of vateras solid-state control centers needed urgently by Tarmac Construction Ltd. to complete a $9-million cement plant in Qatar. A Volvo tractor unit hauling 12 eight-foot-high, four-foot-wide centers on a special step-frame trailer made the 4,800-mile express run from Sweden to the Gulf in nine days.

W for Wood Piling: Timber for schools and other construction is hauled regularly by Carmans Transport Ltd. to Saudi Arabia. Other building materials transported by truck include wall paper and window panes.

X for X-ray Equipment: To outfit a string of hospitals being built for the Saudi Arab Government, a German firm is shipping X-ray and other medical equipment overland.

Y for Yarn: Astran International transported 12 tons of woolen yarn to Damascus to be woven into carpets.

Z for Zodiac: Copies of the Cable and Wireless magazine, Zodiac, were transported by truck from London to Doha for distribution to C & W Middle East employees.

This article appeared on pages 20-21 of the November/December 1977 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for November/December 1977 images.