National Geographic : 1954 Apr
509 Caltex Modern Science Rubs Shoulders with Age-old Techniques on the Persian Gulf Chimneys of the Bahrein Petroleum Company's refinery dominate the coastline of Arabia's "island of oil." A catalytic cracking plant rises on the left. This Bahreini casts his net for small fish. glowed in the two-story residency and a hand ful of other buildings, reflected like jewels in the water. The crew poled the boat forward in rhythmic movements, cleaving the waters without a sound. Sharja by day lacks the charm of Sharja by moonlight. Squeezed between sand and sea, the oasis shrinks in the glare of Arabia's sun. Arabian Venice Uses Water Taxis To the southwest, in a bordering sheikdom, lies the fascinating Venice-like port of Dibai. Built on narrow arms of the sea, its multi storied buildings look like marble palaces ris ing directly out of the waves. Persian and Indian influences mix with Arab in these Persian Gulf ports. Asiatics and Africans of a dozen nationalities mingle in Dibai. Persian bakers tend their beehive ovens, slapping thin disks of dough against the heated wall inside and stacking the crisp, plate-sized result amid dust and flies to await purchasers. Crews of Dibai's water taxis, the mingling of many races, reflect their pirate ancestry. Around the cape from Sharja, on the Gulf of Oman, lies Masqat, with a long and stir ring maritime career. Sultans of Masqat and Oman once ruled a sea empire from Zanzibar to Kuwait. The sultan still controls an edge of Pakistan on the peninsula of Gwadar. In 1835 the United States ratified a treaty of amity and commerce with Masqat. It is still in effect. American trading ships, cap tained by adventurous young skippers, often stopped there in their quest for the spices and treasures of the Orient. We steamed into Masqat harbor one bright morning. The town huddles against moun tains which rise directly from the water.