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Two of nature's most potent liquids, oil and alcohol, came hand in hand to the desert kingdom of Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. In the early days of his long reign, Ibn Saud's Moslem subjects were as dry as the sands they lived on, for such is the law of the Koran. Then the infidels came to tap the oil, and brought with them the other liquid. Soon the clink of glass against bottleneck began to be heard in the new man-made oases of the Saudi Arabian desert.

The oil brought Ibn Saud riches, but dearer to a Moslem heart than even riches are sons, of whom the King has at least 35. In the homes and clubs of the Westerners, where women smiled unveiled amid the heady mixture of gin & vermouth, the young Emirs were always welcome guests. For Ibn Saud's younger sons, as for many Arabs, it was easy to forget the Koran's teachings in the face of such infidel delights. Two years ago one son went on a binge with a neighboring sheik's son, that ended in the latter's death. Another of the old King's sons was involved in a drunken brawl, and Ibn Saud had him publicly flogged.

Teetotalitaricm Edict. One evening last year, at the house of a favorite drinking companion—British Vice Consul Cyril Ousman—a third son of Ibn Saud's got tight and began making passes at a house guest from England. Ousman threw the young prince out. Next day, still drunk and blind with rage, the prince showed up, demanding the girl for his private collection. Once again Ousman tried to throw him out. The prince drew a pistol and began firing. The vice consul was killed, his wife wounded.

Proud old King Ibn Saud was outraged. He ordered the arrest of his son and offered Mrs. Ousman the privilege of prescribing his death in any way she saw fit, with the added promise that his head should be stuck on a pike outside the British embassy. The widow declined the offer and accepted $70,000 in damages. Soon afterward the old King cut his son's sentence to a jail term with 20 lashes each month. The fault, he had decided, had been not so much the prince's as that of the foreigners who had taught him to drink. Several months later the King issued a teetotalitarian edict—forbidding the importation of all intoxicating liquors into Saudi Arabia.

Running Out. By last week not a drop of gin or beer was available in the country. The last remaining supplies of whisky were being doled out to Arabian-American Oil Co. workers at the rate of three bottles a month. Twenty Aramco workers had already quit, and more were threatening to, unless the company could persuade the King to repeal prohibition. But Ibn Saud gave no sign of giving in. There were even rumors that he is planning, soon to forbid Aramco's foreign women to walk the streets unveiled.

"Damn it all," said one worried oil official last week, "a tough Oklahoma oil driller just isn't going to be satisfied to work here for six days a week and then relax with a bottle of Coca-Cola." But neither was a tough old Lion of the Desert, rich as Croesus, apt to be worried by such deprivation, when the welfare of his sons was at stake.