Aramco: a celebration
In this issue of Aramco World Magazine, we are celebrating the 50th anniversany of the search for Saudi Arabian oil. But we are also celebrating another story: how the sons and grandsons of a developing society came to operate and manage the largest oil producing company in history.
The story of Aramco has been told many times. But this time, we have tried to tell it in the words of men who were there: "Bert" Miller and "Soak" Hoover, two of the first geologists to land on the Arabian Peninsula; ‘Abdal-’Aziz Shalfan, who joined the pioneer oilmen as a boy and was still working for Aramco when he died in 1983; Tom Barger, who became chairman of the board and who has just completed his memoirs; Phil McConnell, who came to Saudi Arabia via an oil boom town in Texas; and Bill Mulligan, who will, perhaps, produce his own complete version oftheAramco story one day soon. Mulligan, only recently retired from the company, based his article for this issue "on documents, inter- views, company publications, my own columns in The Arabian Sun [the company’s English-language weekly publication] recollections, reminders from colleagues and my own close-up observations."
The same approach was used to develop the Aramco story through the most modern era; we interviewed the men who have seen and helped the company become the giant, complex operation it is today—men like ‘Ali Naimi, who as a young Bedouin boy joined the company and who just became Aramco’s first Saudi president.
In some cases we used intermediaries, but in keeping with the occasion most of the writers, reporters and researchers have, themselves, roots in Aramco: Mary Norton, who, like Mulligan, has written extensively for the Sun and is an informal expert on Aramco; Lyn Maby, a former writer and editor at the Sun and a contributor to Aramco and Its World: Arabia and the Middle East, a publication described elsewhere in this anniversary edition; and Bill Tracy, who went to Dhahran at an early age and later served as assistant editor of this publication for 10 years.
Paul Lunde, who wrote "A King and a Concession "and edited the first section "Aramco Then," also has Aramco roots. The son of John Lunde, a former senior vice president of Aramco, Paul Lunde went to Dhahran as an infant, worked in the Eastern Province for two years in the mid-1970’s, researched and wrote much of Aramco and Its World and has been writing for Aramco World Magazine since 1973.
All the contributors, infact, have previous or ongoing ties with Aramco, Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. John Lawton, who interviewed Saudi executives and helped edit both sections, is a former UPI bureau chief in Beirut and Middle East correspondent and has been a free-lance writer and editor for eight years. John Richard Starkey, who provided the article on Karl Twitchell, once wrote scripts for Aramco training films in Dhahran. And both Arthur Clark and Dick Hobson, who interviewed Aramco executives, are with the company’s Public Relations Department in Dhahran.
Others who worked on this issue include Burnett H. Moody and his staff, in Aramco’s Photographic Unit, who provided up-to-date photo coverage plus research in Aramco ‘s archives; artist Don Thompson, an Aramco Public Relations designer; Brian Smith, an illustrator in the days when the magazine’s editorial offices were located in Beirut and designer of the magazine since 1976; and Michael Grimsdale, an artist who is a frequent contributor to the magazine and who produced the maps used in this issue. Such contributions and support were vital in this attempt to tell—much too briefly—the 50-year story of Aramco and to mark this important anniversary adequately.