Oil and Labor in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and the Oil Boom

Oil and Labor in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and the Oil Boom

Oil and Labor in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and the Oil Boom

Oil and Labor in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia and the Oil Boom

Synopsis

Based on the author's first-hand research and experience in Saudi Arabia, this monograph presents a highly readable account of the internationalization of the Middle East's labor force during and after the oil boom of 1973-83. Written from the perspective of an active participant rather than that of an academic observer, Oil and Labor in the Middle East analyzes the expatriate workers' world and the multinational companies employing them. It will prove particularly valuable to those involved in the exchange of labor across national borders.

Excerpt

The idea that the masses of foreign workers at work on construction projects in the Middle East might be a fascinating subject for a study first occurred to me in prerevolutionary Iran. I was employed then by a Canadian construction company that was gearing up for a large-scale paper mill project in the narrow strip of rain forest along the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. That this high technology project was to be put together by a mixture of Iranians, Afghans, Turks, Koreans, Filipinos, Thais, Pakistanis, Indians, Yugoslavs, Germans, French, British, Canadians, and Americans seemed like such an improbable undertaking that I felt it had to be documented. The paper mill project—and my study—never got off the ground; the Iranian revolution saw to that. I was to spend three years in the West before another sojourn in the Middle East rekindled my interest and set my research in motion again.

At the beginning of 1982 I was back in the Middle East, this time in Saudi Arabia where I was to spend the next three years working as a project administrator in heavy industrial construction. The research material was gathered and the first drafts of this book were written during that period. I was employed first with the Arabian American Oil Company where I received a first-hand look at the governmental/institutional aspects of the situation, and second with a Saudi-owned and operated construction company, a revealing experience of the meeting of the industrial West with the Third World. The research was informal, unsponsored, and done entirely at my own initiative. As a result, in the pages that follow the world of the expatriate is seen from the point of view of a participant. It is an individual rather than an institutional point of view, a field report rather than a theoretical study.

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