TANGIER, MOROCCO, AUG. 20 -- As the sun was setting Saturday on Malcolm Forbes's Palais Mendoub, his 70th birthday party guests started to arrive. First came Roger Smith, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, with his wife, Barbara. They looked a little stunned. Lining the roadside were hundreds of Moroccan men in long white djellabas dancing in place to greet them. There were dancing girls and drummers and horn blowers and the most sound ever heard in one place at one time. Scores of the king's mounted guards, carrying old flintlock rifles, were fanned out in front of the house and three camels were sitting on the grass. "Just great," said Roger. "It's fabulous," said Barbara. And where Forbes hadn't arranged for Moroccans to be lined up, there were reporters. The press covering what was once called the "Party of the Decade" but now called the "Party of the Century" ballooned to hundreds, with only 110 journalists allowed inside the gates. Robin Leach and "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" seemed to be the only outfit missing. "Tonight you'll see the international press in action," said Mario Suriani, an Associated Press photographer who wasn't looking forward to another night of trying to get Liz Taylor's picture. "If you don't see blood spilled, it'll be a miracle." Billionaire publisher Robert Maxwell was the next to meet this frenzy of horses and hacks. Guests had been told to wear black tie or traditional Moroccan dress, and Maxwell was one of very few to choose the latter. He moseyed down the driveway -- covered in some of the 3,000 square meters of carpet that had been rented for the evening -- looking like Ali Baba in a huge turban, pointed gold shoes, an abundance of long necklaces and what seemed like the 40 thieves hiding under his dragging robes. Lee Iacocca, the head of Chrysler, and his date Darrien Earle had their driver pull up the Mercedes on the carpets for their entrance and were mobbed by German TV cameras. But soon there were plenty more to mob. The 750 or so guests began arriving in busloads, and the receiving line -- where they were treated to bagpipe music, a Forbes tradition, and tossed rose petals -- got choked with chairmen. "Never seen anything like it," said Bill Esrey, CEO of U.S. Sprint and United Telecommunications. John Hennessy, the vice chairman of CS First Boston, described himself as "a banking friend of Malcolm's," and the chairman of Tandy Corp., John Roach, who'd come from Fort Worth, said, "What makes Malcolm's parties so great is how much he enjoys them." At the end of the line -- which some waited in for an hour -- the guests eventually found a very happy Malcolm, dressed in a kilt and wearing the grin of a kid, and his five children, who were responsible for the extravaganza. Main media attraction Liz Taylor stood with them for a while, before leaving to rest briefly, wearing a caftan in green and gold -- the "Forbes colors" -- and an enormous hairdo, some of which wasn't hers. Liz or no, an almost embarrassing all-expenses-paid parade of corporate honchos and well-known social faces passed each other. Publisher Mort Zuckerman brought designer Diane von Furstenberg. Barbara Walters. Merv Adelson. Die-hard NYC socialite Nan Kempner ("This is spectacular!"). Publisher Rupert Murdoch. Sir James Goldsmith. Billionaires Ann and Gordon Getty. California Gov. George Deukmejian. Blaine and Robert Trump ("I can't imagine even being able to conceive of a thing like this," said Robert). Calvin and Kelly Klein ("It's been everything I ever expected," said Calvin). Bill and Pat Buckley ("I mean, it's Lawrence of Arabia," said Pat. "Those horses are exquisite!"). "He doesn't mind spending his money," said an energetic guy in a red fez who turned out to be Leonard Stern, the chairman of the Hartz Group in New York. He was talking about Forbes, of course. "There are plenty of people here with more, but they care about parting with it." "Some of it is a business expense," Forbes admitted earlier in the day during a sometimes tense press conference in which he struggled to answer repeated questions about the extravagance of the event and whether he was romantically involved with Liz Taylor. By all accounts Forbes is not involved with Taylor, although it seems she's become his favorite promotional gimmick. She was brought out in the afternoon to stand next to Forbes while a hundred press cameras soaked them up on their film. After being baited, they finally agreed to kiss. She answered only one question: "You've been to a lot of great parties, how does this stack up?" "How would I know?" Taylor replied with a certain amount of impatience. "It hasn't happened yet." To the questions about excess, Forbes said, "Food, drink and entertaining in Morocco are certainly less expensive than it would be in the United States, so we were very fortunate. The planes were the biggest expense." According to Ali Ben Fallah, the owner of Chez Ali, the apparently well-known catering and events outfit in Marrakech that was responsible for the food, drink, tents and entertainment, his bill alone was 8 million dirhams, a little less than $1 million. "And if the coverage of this attracts more people to Morocco," said Forbes, "that would suit us just fine." Indeed, his guests that evening at least seemed enchanted by the place. Or maybe it was the palace. Or the near-full moon, the five huge, colorful tents set up around the 15-acre grounds, the flowers floating in the pool, the palm trees, the hundreds of hired costumed Moroccans who lounged around like Hollywood extras for an Arabian adventure movie. "You know, it's hard not to be with someone you love when you're experiencing something magical," said Susan Gutfreund, whose husband John, the chairman of Salomon Bros. in New York, was stuck in Dayton, Ohio, for the weekend, and whose 4-year-old son had been left behind in Paris. Susan ("Goodiefriend," as Women's Wear Daily has nicknamed her) was wearing a pale blue silk chiffon Madame Gres evening dress. There's been some talk already about a party she's throwing in France next month for her husband's birthday. "Oh, but I couldn't think of topping this," she said. "I'd never compete with Malcolm ... only Malcolm could bring out the full moon." But he couldn't bring out the king -- Morocco's ruler King Hassan II declined his invitation, instead inviting all of Forbes's guests to a luncheon today at the Tangier Country Club. "I'm stunned. Starting at Hangar 14 it's been a celebration," said movie producer David Brown, referring to the departure Friday of 600 guests from JFK Airport on a Forbes-chartered Concorde, 747 and DC-8. "And in a long career of show business, it's the most incredible production I've seen." Helen Gurley Brown, his wife and the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, turned up in a white sequined tank dress with huge navy Mercedes-Benz insignias. "I don't know who designed it," she said, "but I'm sure I've managed to offend every one of Cosmo's automobile advertisers with it -- and they're all here." Clotheswise, there weren't many surprises -- if you're used to seeing couture dresses and a few tiaras walking around on women. Socialite memoirist Countess Aline de Romanones wore an incredible crown of emeralds the size of pigeons' eggs surrounded by diamonds. "It's been in the family for generations," she said. French socialite billionairess Sao Schlumberger wore an exotic dress concocted for her by Lanvin. Ali Bengelloun, Morocco's ambassador to Washington, turned up in a tuxedo instead of a djellaba. "It's easier," he said. And retired Gannett chairman Allen Neuharth skipped traditional dress of any kind, the brave guy, and wore a black-and-white-striped blousey silk jacket. Under the tents -- flaps tied back in places to let in the night breeze -- everyone sat on Moroccan-style sofas, eating and drinking an entirely Moroccan meal, but generally eating it with forks and knives. "The guests will have their hands washed with fragrant water before dinner," said Ruth Schwartz, the events planner responsible for all the arrangements, which required seven trips to Morocco from New York. "We have silverware for fastidious Americans, but we hope they'll dig in with their hands." Dinner was a great leveler. At least the cliques that had formed Friday were temporarily disbanded. Designer Calvin Klein and wife Kelly of the too-cool-for-words clique, who flew in on Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner's jet, had been hanging out with writer Fran Lebowitz and Barry Diller, the head of 20th Century Fox, but when they arrived at Forbes's party, by lottery they were handed tent assignments for dinner that didn't put them together. Not pleased. Belly dancers and more drummers found their way into the tents during dinner, and afterward cigars from Jamaica were passed out -- even in the press tent, where 110 reporters and photographers ate the deluxe dinner together, just before they all got up for their big North African photo opportunity: Malcolm Forbes cutting a gigantic birthday cake with Liz Taylor holding the knife with him. Beverly Sills came out to sing "Happy Birthday," but the band played a little too loud to hear most of it. Before the dancing, which lasted until 2 a.m., and two fireworks displays that lasted the duration of Ravel's "Bolero," toasts were made into a microphone so the people sitting around the grounds in the various tents could hear. "Meek children shall inherit the magazine," was a line from Steve Forbes's sentimental roast of his father. "How can we top this birthday party?" said the oldest son and deputy editor in chief of Forbes magazine. "We'll try, Pop. Again and again and again." The gasps could be heard all the way to Gibraltar.