Location: Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia
Current Status: Dispensation may never have been requested, and there is no record that it was received or declined.
EXPATRIATES IN SAUDI ARABIA
In August 1967, Bro. James E. Walter, who had been raised in 1945 in Sibert Lodge in the Canal Zone, wrote to the Grand Master of Massachusetts to request a dispensation for a Massachusetts Lodge in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, the location of an expatriate community working for Aramco, the Arabian-American Oil Company. There were extant lodges in the country, in Dhahran and Ras Tanura, chartered by the American-Canadian Grand Lodge under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of Germany; both were distant and, according to Bro. Walter, required a journey of many miles in heat that sometimes reached 135°F.
"Over the past years," he wrote, "the Sojourners (a club of Masons located in Abqaiq) have proven that we can support and maintain a Masonic Lodge in Abqaiq. Our group has approximately $1,000 in its Treasury." He noted that the club had donated to Masonic charities, sponsored the Boy Scouts, and made contributions to the community. They had a suitable building to serve as a Lodge hall, and he detailed a number of in-country Masons who were wholeheartedly in support of the idea.
Grand Master Booth's reply on August 21 was polite and interested, and he invited Bro. Walter to be his guest at the September, 1967 Quarterly Communication, and to visit his office to discuss the possibility. A September 11 letter by Grand Secretary Earl Taylor detailed the requirements for submitting the petition.
Bro. Walter's name does not appear in the guest list at the September or December 1967 Quarterly Communication, and there is no indication that the petition was ever submitted. Bro. James E. Walter died in 2001 at age 83.