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Rich and Eager to Buy – Saudi Arabia in the Oil Boom ‘70s

When oil was discovered in the Arabian Peninsula during the 1930’s and 40’s, the full extent of its impact on Arabian society could not truly be appreciated. It was only during the 1970’s, after OPEC flexed its muscles during the oil embargo, that the countries of the Arabian Gulf truly began to benefit from their massive oil deposits.

However, the influx of huge amounts of petro-dollars was a huge shock to countries such as Saudi Arabia, where Bedouins still roamed the desert and tribal chieftains carried huge political power. Saudi society was overwhelmed by its new wealth, and its booming oil economy quickly ran out of control. Read more

Ping Pong Diplomacy, April 1971 — Opening the Road to China

Following the Chinese Civil War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on the mainland, a “Bamboo Curtain,” the Chinese equivalent of Russia’s “Iron Curtain,” was established, closing off China from the non-Communist world. The 1966 Cultural Revolution only served to strengthen the Communist Party’s commitment to isolation from the West. However, by 1971 China was growing desperate for foreign investment while the United States sought an end to the Vietnam War as well as ways to increase its leverage vis-a-vis  the Soviet Union. These diplomatic objectives led to President Richard Nixon’s historic opening to China.

But before his February 1972 to Peking there was ping pong diplomacy. Sports had long been a diplomatic tool for the Chinese under the slogan “Friendship First, Competition Second.” Thus, on April 6, 1971, the Chinese national ping-pong team invited the American team to visit China while the two teams were at the World Championships in Nagoya, Japan. Read more