Thursday, January 21, 2010
Dhahran, SAUDI ARABIA
My first visit to The Kingdom was way back in December, 1979 so I am considering this trip as the thirtieth anniversary of that first trip to Saudi Arabia. As always, I value my visits here since I can renew my contacts with the many colleagues who work for Saudi Aramco (formerly the Arabian American Oil Company or simply ARAMCO). And that trip in 1979 was my first international trip in service to the company for whom I still work after all these 32 years. And it was here, in Saudi Arabia, where I was first "bitten" by the bug for wanting to do an overseas assignment. However, it took me about 20 years to finally get up the nerve to actually get an overseas posting (which I did in 1998 - 2003)! Looking back, those years overseas were some of the best years of my 32+ year carreer as a "traveling chemist". The only problem with this visit is that it was so short! I arrived over the causeway from Bahrain at Steineke Hall (the primary residence for visitors) at about 11 am. I had 15 mnutes to unpack and then it was off to the room where I gave my 45 minute lecture. Surprisingly, this turned out to be the BEST opportunity for me to present my topic as there were over 120 people in attendance! Puuuurfect!! Enjoy the limited pictures. Note: it's darn tough to take photos in Saudi Arabia so I limited my picture taking impulses and thus have only a few pictures to share:
The several mile long causeway connecting the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. It took 80 minutes to transit from Bahrain to Dhahran. This included a 20-minute stop at the Saudi border to have my picture taken and then get fingerprinted by the immigration authorities. FYI: you need to get a Saudi visa before departing your home country. NO visas are issued on arrival as was the case in Qatar.
Steineke Hall - THE place to rest your head overnight! Anyone who has ever been to Dhahran knows this place inside and out!!! Plain and simple rooms ... most acceptable.
The main dining hall in Dhahran. Good food at very reasonable cost! And a great way to meet fellow workers at meal time!
Some desert scenery in the Dhahran camp.
Saudi Aramco: The largest employer within the country. And a great company to work for if you have the technical skills to offer the company.
Sadly, my visit to The Kingdom was way too short. I departed Tuesday afternoon from the fairly new Dammam airport. (The original Dhahran airport has long since closed and is now exclusively used by the Saudi Air Force.) The Dammam airpot resembles a huge warehouse and is grossly underutilized and poorly managed facility (and that is also the opinion of a Saudi colleague!!). At least my flight on Saudi Arabian Airlines to Dubai took off on the dot and landed in Dubai exactly on time!
NEXT POST: Dubai, United Arab Emirates