On a sweltering August day in 1953, when I was a 3-year-old toddler and Dwight D. Eisenhower had been president just a few months, I stepped off a McDonnell Douglas DC-6 Arabian American Oil Co. (Aramco) airliner into a brand-new life in the arid, east-coast desert of Saudi Arabia.
Aramco, a joint venture of big American oil companies, was then in the early stages of developing an- oil industry from scratch in the then-new Saudi nation. The company had hired my father as a mid-level manager to coordinate ordering and delivering supplies for fledgling Aramco communities springing up in the nearby desert.
Dad — “Big Al” Snedeker — brought me with him, along with Mom (the former Betty Brown); my very tall brother, Mike, the eldest; and my golden-haired sister, Kathy, 16 months older than me.
I remember the broiling, humid air smacking me in the face like super-heated steam as I entered the environment that would envelop the next nine years of my life. All things considered, it was a glorious time for me and my family, and a historically and economically significant inflection point for the United States and Saudi Arabia.My family’s unusual life in the boom town of Dhahran, a few miles inland from the Persian Gulf (now officially named the Arabian Gulf by the Saudi government), was filled with the exotic sights, sounds, smells and experiences of expatriate existence, plus extensive, broadening world travel. But in many ways, life in Dhahran, a town of some 4,500 mostly American inhabitants, was also as familiar, comfortable and ordinary as normal stateside American life in that era.
These many decades later I have written a memoir — 3,001 Arabian Days — to encapsulate that experience and what it meant and still means to me, and what Saudi Arabia’s astonishingly productive oil industry has meant to the world.
Amazon.com officially began offering the book in paperback this week, here (see ad in right panel on this page). The digital edition is expected to be available on Amazon later this week for Kindle and other e-readers.
If you read my memoir, I hope you find enjoyment, a sense of the fascinating environment I grew up in, and possibly a few chuckles.
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