This novel covers the period from 1980 to 1990 with the outbreak of the first Gulf War.
It is based on true and anecdotal stories from the author and ex-pats including a large Irish contingent who worked in
The story is built around a mythical hospital, ‘The Masalamah Hospital’, based in Jeddah. Masalamah in Arabic means goodbye.
The majority of characters are based on real people but names have been changed to protect the guilty.
The story revolves around the central character Steve Lessinger, the new Administrator who arrives full of resolve to make this hospital the finest in Saudi, however did not allow for the depredations of the Saudis themselves. Through a series of adventures and mishaps both humorous and horrific which gradually wear him down.
He forms a friendship with Paddy McDowell, the
His problems include Felicity Duncan Smith, a sister who provides sexual services to the Arab upper class. One of his staff, Ranjit Singh, assistant pharmacist becomes involved with a Saudi princess.
Erich Von Schweitzer is the chief pathologist whose love of cats lands him in a Saudi jail, involving Steve. His wife visits him and proves to be more than a handful for the Saudi authorities.
One of his staff, Herbie Offenbarker, Chief biomedical engineer, discovers desert diamonds and assumes he will make a fortune.
Steve’s problems are complicated by Tom McNab, a male nurse who escaped from pregnant problems in
Prince Ahlan Washlan imports and distributes alcohol throughout the kingdom, supplies the hospital staff but has problems with the competing princes. Tim Crawford and Jack Mitchell, employees have been arrested for the distribution of alcohol and sentenced to 15 years.
Elmer Garlinski, a Saudi airline engineer and friend of Steve and Paddy, has an ongoing battle with the Muttawah, the religious police.
Steve has to deal with the problem of mass arrest of staff at Christmas for drinking illegal alcohol.
Finally it all proves too much.
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