The Trans-Arabian Railway

Here’s a snibbin from my friend Andrew Lyon’s wunderful site The Functionality. You can see the original here.

Arabist and British intelligence operative Harry St. John Philby manifested his destiny in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

He called it, “a mirror image of the Old West, a wide, unfenced land where nature was unsubdued, religion was simple and fundamental, and the law of the gun prevailed—the desert of Arabia, as America’s last frontier.” And that was no idle-smoke-puffing at the officer’s club, Philby lived the fantasy.

He settled permanently in his transposed American west, riding with the Bedu, hunting, hanging, tanning and even buying a slave girl for his wife before dying in September of 1960 exclaiming, “God, I’m bored” and expiring in the arms of his son, the famous triple-agent Kim Philby.

But the comparisons between the Saudi desert and the old west don’t end with the musings of Agent Philby. The echoes turned into a cacophony as oil was discovered, roughnecks started laying pipe, nomadic tribes of Bedouin were run off their land and now, yes, the Chinese are to start building a railroad.

Let me just clarify this perfect irony for you.

As of a February 11th 2009 article by Saudi-British Bank economist John Sfakianaki, a Saudi-Chinese consortium composed in half by the nefarious sounding Sinopec (Chinese Petroleum and Chemical Corp.) won a 6.7 Billion Saudi Riyal civil works contract to build a line. This particular Saudi Railway Organization project has been downplayed by international businesses as infeasible, ridiculous and lacking the proper infrastructure to support it despite the diplomatic efforts of various Saudi ministers to big-it-up.

But the dismal forecast doesn’t seem to bother Sinopec.

They have received a 38,000 km concession area to explore for natural gas.

This move is said to be, “symbolic of the reciprocal hydrocarbon relationship between the two countries”, a phrase that sounds like dirty-Government-talk for mingling precious bodily-fluids to me.

But who knows, no one thought America’s Transcontinental would everhave the”final spike” driven. By December 21, 2012 we may still see a landbridge built from Gulf to shining Red Sea.

One Response to “The Trans-Arabian Railway”
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