Reprinted from yesterday's editions.
In a Kalorama Heights townhouse Tuesday eight believers listened intently as President Carter tried to convince an American television audience that the bottom of the energy barrel is in sight.
The eight were the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Kuwait and Syria.And if by the tone of Carter's message there seemed little doubt that Americans, at least, needed a presidential pep talk, such was not the case with the Arabs.
In fact, seated there in their elegant and obviously very expensive tuxedos, none of them laughed, none of them applauded and none of them looked the least bit pleased to hear that Americans have become the spendthrifts of the world's energy supplies.
"I think," said the ambassador of Saudi Arabia, a country which has by far the world's greatest known reserves of petroleum, "that Americans think it is a created crisis."
Speaking, perhaps, for all the Arabs gathered there at the invitation of OAS Secretary General Alejandro Orfila, Saudi Arabia's Ali Abda.lah Ahreza woundered how many, among America's 215-million population, "really know what oil is made of? Do they think it is spring water?"
A University of California graduate with a degree in petroleum engineering. Alireza said he has traveled widely in recent months and been struck by the way Americans take energy supplies for granted.
"We'd like to save oil, you know, but Americans think 'By God, the Arabs are so happy now.' But, literaly, it took millions of years to make oil and God will never forgive us if we spend it all in a few years."
"It's very clear that your consumption is increasing and your resources are dwindling," said Jordan's Abdullah Salah, "and it's a simple equation, as Carter said, that you can't divorce your economy from your energy."
As for Jordan, Salah continued, "we don't have a drop - we're one of the victims," and, later, at dinner, he confirmed that he walks three miles a day to his office.
"But to conserve the health, not gasoline," he laughed. "We get out oil from the Emitates free."
"You should gave gasoline," scolded the United Arab Emirates' Hamad Abdel Al Madfa. "You would have been blessed by the Americans."
Al Madfa, whose federation of seven states is "blessed" by 1.7 million barrels of oil daily, said he was shocked to learn that 30 per cent of America's energy is spent on lighting buildings. "You are overlit," he chided an American at dinner.
"You have reached a state of development and of luxurious life which our people still do not have. Do you know that I have read that in New York they spend $1 million a year on their dogs and cats and that there is a population of one-half million dogs and cats?"
In the Emirates, Al Madfa said, there is a population of 600,000 people.
Developing nations and their affinity for each other was, in fact, why Orfila invited his Arab guests, he said during champague toasts following a dinner of roast duckling and baked Alaska.
"Today," he told them, "there are a lot of Arabs making the destiny of Latin America. And we are grateful to them. . . We, the world's developing people, feel we can offer a better world to all mankind."