By Toby Craig Jones
Oil and water, and the technological know-how and expertise used to harness them, have lengthy been on the center of political authority in Saudi Arabia. Oil’s abundance, and the glorious wealth it generated, has been a keystone within the political primacy of the kingdom’s ruling relations. the opposite bedrock point used to be water, whose significance was once measured by way of its dearth. Over a lot of the 20th century, it was once via efforts to regulate and deal with oil and water that the trendy country of Saudi Arabia emerged.
The principal government’s energy over water, area, and other people improved gradually through the years, enabled via expanding oil sales. The operations of the Arabian American Oil corporation proved serious to growth and to attaining strength over the surroundings. Political authority in Saudi Arabia took form via international networks of oil, technology, and services. And, the place oil and water have been crucial to the forging of Saudi authoritarianism, they have been additionally instrumental in shaping politics at the flooring. Nowhere used to be the effect extra profound than within the oil-rich jap Province, the place the politics of oil and water ended in a craving for nationwide belonging and to demands revolution.
Saudi Arabia is frequently considered in the course of the lenses of Islam, tribe, and the economics of oil. wilderness state now offers an alternate historical past of environmental energy and the making of the fashionable Saudi kingdom. It demonstrates how very important the exploitation of nature and the jobs of technological know-how and international specialists have been to the consolidation of political authority within the wasteland.
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Additional resources for Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia
Observers have tended to mythologize the role of Americans in Saudi Arabia, lionizing the contributions of geologists and businessmen (there were no businesswomen). 23 Aside from the racism bound up in such characterizations, the focus on the alleged heroism of the scientists overlooks both the profound impact that their work had on the evolving political logic that eventually took root in the kingdom and their role in enabling the more complete realization of Saudi political dominance. 24 This approach has not only overlooked but also misrepresented the material nature of the relationship between American experts and the Saudi Imperial Geology 35 government, as the former pursued an ever-increasing share of the spoils from oil sales and Saudi Arabia’s privileged position in the global economy.
Twitchell, who ﬁnished building the Jidda water delivery system in late 1931, was then contracted by Abd al-Aziz to “advise him on the water resources and oil possibilities in his province of Hasa along the Persian Gulf. ”32 The geologist-engineer left his wife in charge of ongoing drill testing for water resources east of Jidda, and set out for al-Hasa in early December. It was in the east where Twitchell and his geologist colleagues would make their most signiﬁcant discovery. Twitchell spent several weeks surveying al-Hasa’s geological features and even traveled to Bahrain, a small island, located twenty-ﬁve kilometers off the eastern shore of the peninsula, that shared similar characteristics with alHasa and where oil prospecting had already begun.
Government has placed a high priority on the security and stability of the Saudi regime, no matter its brutality or excesses. S. security assurances was eminently preferable to a more liberal polity that would potentially attend to its citizens’ needs and interests ﬁrst. For American businesses, including big oil as well as the private consultants, scientists, and engineers who went to work for the Saudi government, ensuring the stability of the Saudi regime also meant ensuring their own access to some of the windfall generated by the sale of oil.
Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia by Toby Craig Jones