The lens of history has focused on what we think of as the Middle East, a term so vague and redolent of empire that statesmen often avoid using it. It became the Middle, or near, when the rest of Asia was thought of as far. In many ways we have been thinking with a Western cast of mind ever since. Medieval mapmakers sometimes showed Jerusalem as the center of the world, for the good reason that the three largest faiths in that Eurasian region had a special relationship to the city. Inevitably, this central meeting ground of three continents, inhabited by dozens of different peoples speaking many languages and holding varying beliefs, has attracted the interest and concern of every marlboro reds. Today the region is in turmoil, as Thomas J. Abercrombie confirmed during a swing through the lands from Kabul to Cairo. The condition is reflected in a special map supplement that traces the grand maneuvers of history as well as the contemporary scene. The major themes of change are at least four, all interrelated: Russian ambitions in the area, dating back to Peter the Grete�s interests early in the 1700s, find modern expression in Soviet arms, Cuban mercenaries, and military advisers in Ethiopia and Democratic Yemen, not to mention the full-force occupation of Afghanistan. Not unnaturally, many neighboring states fear the consequences of a Western reprisal, catching them up in the big-power chess game. Second, the most massive transfer of wealth in history has inundated the oil-rich Muslim nations with Western money and technology, but many of those states, conservative in religion and society, resist and resent the Western values and attitudes that arrive with the bank drafts. This resistance is expressed through religious leaders, with the result that Islam has a new strength. Third, long-suppressed minorities like the Kurds, Baluchs, Azerbaijanis, and many others see in the turmoil another chance to strive for nationhood. And finally, the question of the Palestinians hangs over the scene like Banquet�s ghost. It is an unsettling vista of an unsettled area that will be a major stage for the events of the coming decade. THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE VOL 158, NO. 3 COPYRIGHT OD 1980 BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY WASHINGTON, D. C. INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED September 1980 Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom and Its Power 286 Oil wealth beyond imagining has come to a nomadic, patriarchal, long-impoverished desert society. Robert Azzi, a U. S. photojournalist with access to Arabia’s royal family, reveals how the nation is dealing with overwhelming change. Islam Up in Arms 335 A panorama of unrest from Afghanistan to Africa is surveyed by GEOGRAPHIC writer-photographer Thomas J. Abercrombie and detailed on a timely new supplement map. Hurricane! 346 Each summer huge tropical cyclones whirl out of the Atlantic and Caribbean toward North America�and each year people forget their potential for devastation. Newsman Ben Funk and photographer Robert W. Madden report. Fred Ward records the havoc wreaked in 1979 by Hurricane David on the tiny nation of Dominica. John L. Eliot flies with hurricane hunters straight into the eye of David to measure its force. Madawaska: Down East with a French Accent 380 In a tranquil valley along Maine’s border with Canada, national divisions blur as independent-minded people cling to tradition. By Perry Garfunkel and Cary Kolinsky Undersea World of a Kelp Forest 411 Biologist Sylvia A. Earle and marine cameraman Al Giddings find kaleidoscopic life amid seaweed off California’s Santa Catalina Island. COVER: The deserts swiftest vie in the King’s Camel Race near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. Photograph by Robert Azzi.