This Day in History

This Day in History (1961): Ministry of Agriculture begins program to save al-Hasa villages

Government officials consider ways to stop the migration of giant sand dunes.

This Day in History (1961): Ministry of Agriculture begins program to save al-Hasa villages

From the July 19, 1961, edition of the Sun and Flare

The Ministry of Agriculture in the Saudi Government has launched an effort to stop the movement of a huge dune field that is bearing down on some villages on the outskirts of Hofuf and that threatens to choke off drainage in most of al-Hasa Oasis.


The dune stabilization project now under study by representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and a number of Aramco specialists is approximately 16 miles long and four miles wide. It extends from below Abqaiq down to a broad front running eight to 10 miles east-northeast of the center of Hofuf, along the old road to Uqayr.


Investigators point out two imminent dangers from the relentless march of sprawling sand mass: inundation of villages and conditions deleterious to crops.


The southernmost portions of the field are already literally at the doorsteps of homes in some 14 villages, such as al-'Umram, situated north and east of the famed Qarah Caves. If some way is not found to stop the movement of the sand, the field could eventually inundate every settlement that stands in its path.


In an effort to advise the Ministry of Agriculture on the most efficient and economical way to stabilize the big dune field, Aramco personnel are now conducting exhaustive studies on the area both on the ground and with aerial photographs taken especially for this purpose.


Methods under consideration include building sand fences to change the contours of the dunes, the use of earth-moving machinery, asphalting exposed surfaces, and a combination of these techniques.


Caption for top photo: The Saudi Government's Ministry of Agriculture has initiated a program to stop the relentless movement of a huge dune field that threatens to bury villages on the outskirts of Hofuf. The dune stabilization project is now understudy by representatives of the Ministry and a number of Aramco specialists.


Also on this day

2019 — Dutch actor, director, and producer Rutger Hauer dies at age 75 in the Netherlands


1985 The Val di Stava dam collapses, killing 268 people in Val di Stava, Italy


1983 The first three-dimensional reconstruction of a human head in a CT is published


1980 The Summer Olympics opens in Moscow


1977 The world's first Global Positioning System (GPS) signal was transmitted from Navigation Technology Satellite 2 (NTS-2


1969 U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy crashes his car into a tidal pond at Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne


1963 Joe Walker flies a North American X-15 to a record altitude of 347,800 feet, exceeding an altitude of 100 km, qualifying it as human spaceflight under international convention


1952 The Summer Olympics opens in Helsinki, Finland


1922 American military pilot and politician George McGovern is born in Avon, South Dakota


1903 Muarice Garin wins the first Tour de France


1900 The first line of the Paris Metro opens for operation


1845 The Great New York City Fire of 1845 kills four firefighters and 26 civilians, destroying 345 buildings


1821 Coronation of George IV of the United Kingdom


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