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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Ahmed Zaki Yamani, a long-serving oil minister in Saudi Arabia who led the kingdom through the 1973 oil crisis, the nationalization its state energy company and later found himself kidnapped by the assassin Carlos the Jackal, died Tuesday in London. He was 90.

Saudi state television reported his death, without offering a cause.

It said he would be buried in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

Known for his Western-style business suits and soft-spoken, measured tones, Yamani helped Saudi Arabia command a dominating presence in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries from its birth. The kingdom remains a heavyweight in the group even today and its decisions ripple through the oil industry, affecting prices from the barrel down to the gasoline pump.

“To the global oil industry, to politicians and senior civil servants, to journalists and to the world at large, Yamani became the representative, and indeed the symbol, of the new age of oil,” author Daniel Yergin wrote in his seminal book on the oil industry “The Prize.” “His visage, with his large, limpid, seemingly unblinking brown eyes and his clipped, slightly curved Van Dyke beard, became familiar the planet over.”

Yamani became oil minister in 1962 and would lead the ministry until 1986. He served a crucial role in the nascent oil cartel OPEC as producers around the world began to try to dictate prices to the world market previously dominated by the economic policies of Western nations.

Yamani was the first Saudi representative on OPEC’s board of governors in 1961. From his position, he became known not for the hysterics that accompanied years of turmoil across the wider Middle East, but an ever-calm negotiating style that Saudi ministers after him sought to mimic.

But that style for an oil kingpin known by the honorific “the Sheikh” would be tested by the times, which included upheaval in the global energy market. That was especially true in the 1973 Mideast War, in which Egypt, Syria and its allies launched a surprise attack on Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

When the U.S. under President Richard Nixon moved to support Israel, Arab producers in OPEC agreed to cut their supply by 5% a month. When Nixon continued his support, the decision gave birth to what would become known as the “oil weapon” — a total embargo on the U.S. and other countries.

Prices in the U.S. would rise by 40%, leading to gasoline shortages and long lines at the pump. Oil prices globally would quadruple, leading to the wealth now seen across the Gulf Arab states today.

In 1975, Yamani found himself twice at major moments in history. He stood just outside the room when a nephew of King Faisal assassinated the monarch in March.

In December, Yamani found himself among those taken hostage at OPEC headquarters in Vienna, an attack that killed three people and saw 11 seized. The attack ended up seeing all the pro-Palestinian militants and those held hostage released.

Afterward, Yamani described Carlos, a Venezuelan whose real name is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, as a “ruthless terrorist who operates with cold-blooded, surgical precision.” From that moment on, Yamani traveled with an entourage of bodyguards everywhere he went.

Yamani also oversaw what would become the full nationalization of the Arabian American Oil Co. after the 1973 oil crisis. Today, it’s better known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, a major employer for the kingdom and its main source of revenue.

In 1986, Saudi King Fahd dismissed Yamani with a terse statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. At the time, it was believed that Yamani disagreed with the king in his insistence OPEC work out a permanent system of production quotas and that the kingdom would be given a bigger share of the total. Saudi Arabia ultimately went along with another interim arrangement.

Yamani was born in Mecca in 1930, when camels still roamed the streets of the holy city. His father and grandfather were religious teachers and Islamic lawyers. He ultimately studied at New York University and Harvard. Twice married, he is survived by multiple children and grandchildren.


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Michael Wolf Snyder, ‘Nomadland’ Production Sound Mixer, Dies at 35

10 deals you don’t want to miss on Saturday: $1 N95 masks, $18 Wi-Fi extender, $17 teeth whitener, $7 smart plugs, more No. 20 Virginia claims ACC regular-season title with win vs. Louisville Frances McDormand (far left) filming in the Badlands of South Dakota, the first stop on the Nomadland shooting schedule. “We were greedy and we wanted to capture as much of the American West as possible,” says Chloé Zhao.

Michael Wolf Snyder, a production sound mixer on Nomadland, has died. He was 35.

Snyder’s aunt Cathy shared a Facebook message from her brother David — Michael’s father — confirming his son’s death. In the post, Snyder wrote that Michael took his own life last week and that he suffered from depression for many years.

The message read, in part, “Michael took his own life sometime in the last week and wasn’t discovered until I went to check on him Monday after he had dropped out of contact for several days. He has suffered from Major Depression for many years. For most people, this is an illness that waxes and wanes over the years. I’m sure it was difficult for Michael that he spent most of the last year alone in his small, Queens apartment, being responsible about dealing with the coronavirus. In spite of this, we all believed he was doing well, and for most of this past year I think he was. He seemed especially joyful and invigorated in these last few months since he was able to return to work on several different film projects. He was certainly thrilled about all of the accolades for Nomadland and told us many happy stories about his work on the film and the amazing people he got to spend time with.”

Of Michael’s career, Synder shared, “We have always known how much Wolf loved his work in film; it was the brightest spot in his life.” This year, Michael was nominated for best sound/effects at the CinEuphoria awards for Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland. His additional credits in the sound department include Zhao’s The Rider, mini-series HodoBuzz and Good Omens, and numerous short films. On set over the last decade, his roles ranged from sound mixer to boom operator, location sound recordist and sound director.

Among many tributes on Facebook, actor Yuval Davis wrote, “Michael Wolf Snyder was the super-cool award-winning sound mixer who recorded on set audio for the latest feature film I directed. His tragic loss is painfully heard.” Filmmaker Craig Blair remembered Snyder as a “wonderful friend & talented collaborator,” writing on Facebook that he “embodied everything that I love about filmmaking and the community that he was and will always be a part of.”

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Searchlight Pictures, as well as representatives for several of the cast from Nomandland, for comment.

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