Ali Mohammed Jaidah, the former secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is a soft-spoken man of thirty-seven. He speaks as one comfortable with authority. His B.S. in economics and his M.S. in petroleum economics are from London University. His birthplace and home are in the capital, Doha, of Qatar, a tiny oil-rich peninsular country jutting into the Persian Gulf. He has served his country in many positions of responsibility in the Ministry of Finance and Petroleum and the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation. In January, 1977, he became OPEC secretary general. My meeting with Ali Jaidah took place at the OPEC secretariat in Vienna, Austria, in the summer of 1978.
The secretary general and I chatted about Vienna, music, and the Spanish Riding School. He took a call from London—he would be heading there in a few hours—and referred the caller to a colleague in Kuwait. He told me I was sitting where President Carlos Andrés Pérez of Venezuela had sat recently on his first visit to OPEC headquarters. We spoke of Venezuela's leading role in the founding of OPEC. He inquired about my university, the course in energy economics I teach, and my interest in OPEC. Coffee served and the amenities observed, we got down to business.