Life in the Sandpit
by Terry Thomas

"It was inevitable that . . . the Arab way of life and people have an impact on those of us living there . . ."

The author’s memoir is the often hilarious remembrance of a single year spent in Saudi Arabia working as an engineer on the oil pipelines. The year was May 1977 to May 1978―a significant point in construction for their oil industry. Due to stringent rules for taking a spouse into that country, the British author spent much of his out-of-country time in the company of two zany male engineer friends surrounded by swarms of not always proper Muslim shopkeepers, religious police, and gatekeepers. The friends quickly learned the customs that govern life in a foreign country, including getting a driver’s license, buying food from open markets, and living in an alcohol-prohibited country. Their youthful shenanigans, including liquor making, resemble the TV series MASH, except that they were operating on damaged pipelines rather than the wounded.

When required to learn where to find technical resources, this field engineer remained calm until logical answers presented themselves. His natural skills for good communication earned him both praise by the oil company supervisors and acceptance by the local schoolboys he taught to shoot marbles. They also serve him well in this book. His explanation of technical material is a far cry from the typically dry manual. In addition, these talents opened the door in 1978 for Thomas to begin the next twenty years of his career in the lucrative offshore oil delivery industry for Britain and other countries.

The author was unaware of the entertainment factor of his year-long adventure until encouraged by a friend. He wrote this memoir twenty years later, preserving the humor and the novelty of all that he experienced. This book should inspire young readers and will prove an excellent graduation idea for anyone off to start their way independently in this potentially dangerous world.

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