en zh es ja ko pt

Volume 53, Number 3 May/June 2002

In This Issue

May/June 2002
Camels West
Written by Robert Berg
Photographed by Rick Rickman

In 1847, a handful of US Army officers began to discuss the merits of using camels to aid in settling the vast, arid American West. From a skeptical Congress, they wrung funding for an experiment, which in 1856 became the fledgling US Army Camel Corps. Its first and only federal assignment was to survey a road, and although it carried out the work successfully, the Civil War brought the experiment to an end only six years after the first camel stepped onto American soil. Today, the memory of the Camel Corps lives on in the small town of Quartzsite, Arizona, whose annual winter festival is named after the Camel Corps' Syrian drover Hajj All, quite possibly the only Arab-American hero of the "Wild West."

Fragile Beauty: Islamic Glass
Written by Elif Gökçigdem

More than 3500 years of glassmaking experience, and many of the tastes and techniques of Byzantine and Sasanian craftsmen, became the inheritance of Muslim glassmakers with the coming of Islam in the seventh century. Brilliant technicians and innovators in their own right, they developed the craft into a high art that, some centuries later, they passed on to Venice and elsewhere, beginning a cycle of reciprocal inspiration of East and West. The pieces produced in the Middle Eastern glassmaking centers are astonishing in their beauty and craftsmanship.

Welcoming God’s Guests
Written by Samia El-Moslimany

Taillights streak under the gateway to Makkah as another busload of pilgrims arrives. They are part of an annual stream of 2.3 million visitors who come from some 100 countries to carry out the rituals of the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage For Makkans, and Saudis in general, the pilgrims are duyuf al-rahman, "guests of the Merciful [God]," deserving of exceptional hospitality, and the kingdom has spent some $70 billion since 1955 to build and improve facilities for them. And every year, there is the work of tens of thousands from all over Saudi Arabia: engineers, researchers, managers, doctors, drivers, guards, guides, laborers and volunteers. Behind the scenes, they make possible the largest annual religious gathering on Earth.