Dubai is today the Gem of the Middle East.  Indoor snow skiing, man made islands and international commerce define the countries image.  It has not all ways been this way.

Dubai has oil but nothing to the extent of its neighbors Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait and Iraq.  Instead it built its wealth on trading and commerce.  In the fifties citizens in fishing boats called dhows would smuggle gold to India to be used as dowries for rich Indians.  Gold was illegal to be imported to India at that time.

Dubai originally fell under British rule.  American norms dictate that American companies will respect the local customs and traditions and restrict changing another countries customs.  England had a different thought process and what is known as cultural eccentricism  prevailed in countries that it occupied.  This means that English traditions overcame the local Dubai cultures and activities such as alcohol and females driving cars were allowed while these changes were never tolerated in Saudi Arabia. Neither Dubai nor Saudi Arabia allowed foreigners into the country unless they had work permits.  Tourism was not allowed.

In the seventies a major industry for Dubai was J Ray McDermott, a Louisiana based offshore construction contractor that had facilities in Dubai.  The country was progressive and very clean.  The Emir of Dubai let the convicts out every morning to scour the streets and pick up garbage.  The InterContinental Hotel at the air port was listed as one of the top ten in the world.  The one thing that was missing was tourists.

Many of the offshore oil facilities that were constructed by McDermott were for the Saudi Arabian oil fields.  Members or the ARAMCO Offshore Projects department would visit Dubai and inspect the platforms that were under construction.  During our visits we marveled about the beauty and potential the country held.

In the early eighties I played softball for a team called the Dhahran Clippers.  We obtained the name from Pan Am Airways and the famous Pan Am Clippers, the large planes that crossed the globe in the 1930s.  Pan  Am was our early sponsor.  One of our players, our short stop and player coach,  was a teacher named Joe Morris.  He was teaching in ARAMCO and had taught in Dubai at the Embassy school.  One night after practice he told the team that we had been invited to play in the Dubai league tournament.  He explained that Leroy Austin with McDermott had arranged for us to be provided with Construction Visas that would allow us to enter Dubai.  We were basically being smuggled into Dubai to play softball.

We did go and in the round robin tournament we defeated every team in Dubai.  That night we departed and our visas had been returned.  I was sure that we had seen the last of any future tournaments.  I was wrong.  The next year we invited and returned and discovered there were other teams from the United Arab Emirates.   Again we won and again we returned the following year to find teams from Bahrain, Kuwait plus a few other Saudi Arabian Teams.  Dubai had been discovered and at about that same time the Dubai Ministry of Tourism was formed.  Dubai built its own national airline.  By the early 90s Russia was sending flights continually into the emirate.  Dubai was booming and the rest is history.

By the late 80s we were playing twice a year at the multi-storied International Hotel complete with ball fields outside the back door.  Last week a friend wrote and said he went to Dubai on business and was told that the hotel had been sold and would soon be demolished to make way for a new 1,600 room complex.   Such is the cost of success.

Loren Schoenholtz eventually took over the command of the team.  The team continued to play for over two decades and became one of the most successfull international traveling softball teams in the world.

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