By People Staff
March 18, 1974 12:00 PM

In the presence only of his bodyguards and Allah, Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal knelt down on a prayer rug in his private mosque and began one of his five daily sessions of worship and meditation. The king, a devout member of the ascetic Wahabi sect, took over leadership of his country from his half brother, the better-known King Saud, in 1964. But last fall’s embargo on crude oil shipments to the United States and Western Europe, triggered by the Yom Kippur war, has turned King Faisal into a household word. His country, an otherwise arid land of eight million people, sits smugly atop one third of the world’s known oil reserves. Before the war Saudi Arabia exported $4 billion a year in oil; since the embargo the price of crude has increased sharply. When the embargo is lifted and shipments resume to oil-hungry Europe and America, Saudi Arabia’s income will skyrocket. Henry Kissinger met with Faisal last December and called the king “quite a savvy guy.” Many American motorists in maddeningly long gasoline lines are less complimentary.