SAUDI ARABIA: The Desert Superstate

A rich but vulnerable feudal monarchy hurtles into the jet age

Its cities are dominated by the roar of bulldozers and the rattle of jackhammers. The hard hat of the construction worker rivals the checkered ghutra as the national headdress. In the bustling commercial and financial port city of Jidda, on the Red Sea, bulldozers tear into the graceful old houses of the Ottoman era with their latticework balconies and harem windows. In the capital city of Riyadh, rows of mud houses topped with crenelated roofs are smashed to dust to make way for superhighways or high-rise buildings of chrome, glass and...

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