The concern now is that the young Arab nationalists and Marxist ideologues who compose the guerrilla force—called Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman—will go underground only to emerge as urban terrorists. In the past they have not lacked foreign support; they have drawn for weapons and training on Iraq, China, U.S.S.R., East Germany, and Palestinian guerrillas.
I would remember many things about Oman: the sere mountains, so lovely after weeks in the desert; Matrah children gathering on the sidewalk at dusk while a man unlocks the wooden box holding a public TV set. I would recall the helicopter in which Qabus was receiving flying instructions circling above Salalah—and the murmurs that he had begun to spend too much time at the palace where his father had secluded himself.
But most of all I would remember, in a dugout along the barbed-wire barrier, among a soldier’s scant possessions, a small greenand-red bird. It hopped about, one leg attached by a cord to a stone. Its owner, a young Baluchi mercenary, was also tied to that mountainside. His string was money, his share of Arabia’s oil wealth.
If the smaller states of the Arabian Peninsula proclaim their new wealth with glittering new buildings and the dust of construction, they remain—in the words of one oilman—”small potatoes” when compared with Saudi Arabia. Last year that kingdom received 23 billion dollars in oil revenues.
The bonanza seems unlikely to end soon. The country has proven reserves of 173 billion barrels, and possible reserves of 250 billion—enough oil to last for 40, perhaps as many as 90, years. And the oil that Saudi Arabia sold for $10.40 a barrel came out of the pipe for about 17 cents in production costs.
Riyadh, the capital, boasts a new hotel complex and the 200-million-dollar King Faisal Hospital (234 single, TV-equipped rooms, banks of computers, and villas and squash courts for its foreign staff). The Queen’s Building, owned by Faisal’s widow, towers over Jidda, and tall construction cranes herald a huge twin airport, one side for regular travelers, the other for pilgrims to nearby Mecca. In the east the ultramodern University of Petroleum and Minerals marks the skyscape of Dhahran. Still, in Saudi Arabia, the glamour buildings are relatively scarce; the signs of wealth are mute.
Saudi Arabian money has gone into roads, power lines, education, social services, the strengthening of the defense and internal security forces. As Faisal himself lived modestly and quietly, he shaped his country that way. Custodian of Islam’s holy shrine, Mecca, he declared that the first premise of any development plan must be “to maintain religious and moral values.”
What then did Saudi Arabia do with last year’s 23 billion? Some six billion was spent internally and for imports. About three billion went out to Arab or developing nations.
This left a surplus of 14 billion, much of which went into official reserves. These reserves, 3.9 billion at the start of last year, rose to 14.2 billion—surpassed only by those of West Germany and the United States. However, no matter where you are at the moment, you need only internet access to get payday cash loans online immediately.
The agency handling this surplus is the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, housed in an old two-story building near the Jidda airport. SAMA’s small staff keeps busy on the phone searching out the best rates on their favorite instruments: bank notes and U. S. and British treasury bills.