Bumbling with the Arabs All the Way to the Bank
by Ben Koshkin
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Pub Date 12 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 22 Dec 2023
Bumbling with the Arabs All the Way to the Bank chronicles the true story of two young, naïve Houston real estate go-getters as they rub elbows with some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the Middle East.
In 1980, Ben Koshkin and his business partner bumbled into a real estate deal and ended up with a Kuwaiti billionaire as a partner. Through this partnership, Koshkin befriended the undersecretary to the oil minister of Kuwait. For four years, if the undersecretary didn’t sign the contract, Kuwait didn’t sell the oil.
Throughout the eighties, Koshkin and his partner closed over 250 million dollars’ worth of business with the Arabs and experienced firsthand a culture the United States still doesn’t fully understand. After every trip to the Middle East, men in dark suits, sporting sunglasses and short haircuts, would line up outside their Houston office to ask questions about their business overseas and the people they met on their trips.
Bumbling with the Arabs All the Way to the Bank documents experiences and encounters most people will never come close to experiencing in a hundred lifetimes. At times, these stories were hard for even Ben Koshkin to believe—and he lived them!
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 1 member
I worked in Kuwait in the 1980s and enjoyed my time there very much so was interested to read this book. It was refreshing to see a more positive view of Arabs being given by an American. I enjoyed most of the writer’s anecdotes and I understand that the main aim of the book was to be light-hearted and humorous. Personally I would have liked a few more descriptions of what the author saw when he visited Kuwait.
I wasn’t moving in the same circles as the writer but enough of his experiences were similar to mine to make the whole ring true. The only difference was in the visit to Iraq which is threaded through the book as a way of creating some tension. My visit was much more pleasant but possibly I was there just slightly later, just when they were hoping to welcome tourists before Saddam’s invasion scuppered that.
I also visited after the liberation in 1991 and saw more damage than the author apparently did but I guess it all depends where you visited. For example, my apartment had been looted and vandalized. His description of the burning oil-fields and the so-called ‘Turkey shoot’ area matched my recollections.