George Rentz: Senior Arabist, Superior Scholar

“Senior Arabist” is one of several titles bestowed upon Dr. George S. Rentz, Jr., during his tenure with the company.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Rentz’s interest in Arabic culture occurred while teaching in Syria in 1932 at the age of 20. In his three years there, Rentz developed a profound love for the Arabic language which he pursued after returning to the United States. Rentz attended the University of California at Berkeley. He was studying classical Arabic and Near Eastern history at Berkeley when World War II broke out. He left the university to run the U.S. Offi ce of War Information in Cairo.

In 1944, Rentz was invited to Jeddah by Karl Twitchell, an American mining engineer who was instrumental in the signing of the Concession Agreement in 1933. With his superb command of the Arabic language, Rentz was recruited as a translator for a mere 9-month opportunity, but went on to serve 17 years with Aramco.

With his comprehensive grasp of the language and culture, Rentz provided a critical role in Aramco’s Government Relations Department. He also served as Chief of the Arabian Research and Translation Division, and Supervisor of Arabian Research. Rentz established high standards for Arabic translation and research. He is also recalled for his contributions to a series of Aramco handbooks detailing the history of Saudi Arabia, the petroleum industry and of Aramco itself.

Like other Americans who served with Aramco, Rentz was able to return to Dhahran later in his life to see how the country had changed. At the age of 71, Rentz was struck by the size of the buildings and the overwhelming accomplishments of the company. Rentz’s contributions in research, scholarship and service were a significant part of that success.