The Gulf: An Exquisite Balancing Act

Onetime playboy King Fahd tries to mingle modernity and feudalism

One was a sybarite who virtually abandoned his desert kingdom for a career of overseas carousing. He drank Scotch freely, ordered caviar by the pound, attended the raunchy shows in the nightclubs of Beirut so frequently that he knew all the leading belly dancers by name, engaged in myriad liaisons with women (he is said to have paid the wife of a Lebanese businessman $100,000 a year to make herself available) and, if old stories are to be believed, gambled away $1 million in the casinos of Monte Carlo during a single weekend.

The other is a King known for caution...

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