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Volume 50, Number 1 January/February 1999

In This Issue

January/February 1999
The Centennial’s Jewel—Riyadh
Written by Arthur Clark

The walled city from which King 'Abd al-'Aziz began his national consolidation has since grown 400 times larger. A sprawling periphery of businesses, homes and industry now surrounds the historic heart of downtown, which has become the centerpiece of a program of urban conservation and development.

The Culinary Kingdom
Written by Ni'Mah Isma'il Nawwab
Photographed by Kristie Burns

From rice- and meat-based dishes of the deserts to fish recipes of the coasts, Saudi cuisine is as old as human settlement. Since the dawn of Islam, pilgrims and traders—Levantine, Turkish, Egyptian, Central Asian, Indian, European, American and others—have added their influences, resulting in today's variety of regionally distinctive traditions.

Days of Song and Dance
Written by Kay Hardy Campbell
Illustrated by Judy Laertini

The centuries-old folk music of Saudi Arabian women is heard almost exclusively by women at weddings and other celebrations. But for the past eight years, women from all over Saudi Arabia have come to Riyadh to share their art.

Doors of the Kingdom
Written by Maha Al Faisal and Khalid Azzam

In traditional Saudi homes, where smooth monochromes often predominate, a colorfully decorated, skillfully crafted door catches the eye, welcoming, and hinting at hospitality within. Regional styles add charm and variety.

A Man for our Century
Written by James Parry

The founder of Saudi Arabia, King 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn 'Abd al-Rahman Al Sa'ud, changed the history of the Arabian Peninsula with a unifying religious faith, deft, inclusive politics, and a courageous and inspiring personality. Reestablishing his family's rule, he laid the cornerstone of a modern nation.

Pioneer Photographer of the Holy Cities
Written by John De St. Jorre
Photographs courtesy of Farid Kioumgi / Egyptophilia

Leader of a survey team to the Hijaz in 1861 and again in 1880, Egyptian Colonel Muhammad Sadiq carried with him a ponderous, wet-plate collodion camera, which he used in his spare time. His photographs of Makkah and Madinah were not only the first ever taken of the holy cities, but also the first ever made anywhere in what is today Saudi Arabia.

Prelude to Discovery
Written by Jane Waldron Grutz
Photographs courtesy of Saudi Aramco

Although the modern Saudi Arabian economy is led by oil exports, during the first 36 years of King 'Abd al-'Aziz's rule there were serious doubts that any oil at all lay beneath the kingdom's expanse. The first systematic geological survey the king commissioned was focused not so much on oil, but on precious water.

The Servants of God’s House
Written by Greg Noakes
Photographed by Peter Sanders

Makkah and Madinah are the first two holy cities of Islam, and their leading mosques—the Sacred Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque, respectively—have been updated and expanded more since the early days of 'Abd al-'Aziz than at any time in their 14 centuries of history. Today, they each welcome several million pilgrims a year.

"There Were 40 of Us…"
Illustrated by Norman MacDonald

It looked like any of the intertribal raids that had characterized Arabian warfare for centuries, but it became the founding moment of the nation. Here is the Story of the recapture of Masmak fort on 5 Shawwal, 1319 (January 15, 1902), recounted partly by King ‘Abd-al-‘Aziz himself before his death in 1953.