I traveled to Saudi Arabia in February, April, May, and October 2009 and in February and April 2010. I have now returned in 2012. This blog was written as a journal of my experiences and as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for your interest. I welcome your comments, even if you don’t know me. As salam alaykum - Peace be upon you.

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Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran June 23rd 2012

I really wanted to blog again, but I've had continuing internet problems. Nothing is more frustrating than writing a pithy, well-written blog, only to have it blown to bits when the site locks up. This happened to me about four times in a row and I gave up. So I think I'll skip the commentary and post my photos instead. I can't get the photos in the order I loaded them, but it's time to give up after many, many, many tries. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos.... read more
Bird on the way to work
Heritage Village in Dammam
117 degrees outside!!

North America » United States » Minnesota » Minneapolis October 31st 2010

Readers of my blog know that I think visiting other countries and immersing oneself in their culture is truly a wonderful thing and something I love dearly. However, taking the time to see your own environment is equally important. Whether it's having your adult children bring pumpkins over to your house to carve (and maintain a family tradition), taking the time to visit a small local festival, or exploring your own state and appreciating the beauty of Autumn, taking advantage of local opportunities is important too. I hope these photos give you a sense of Minnesota this time of year. We are blessed to have four wonderful seasons. OK, I admit that winter loses its appeal after four, five, or six months of snow and cold, but it makes us appreciate the wonders of spring, summer, ... read more
Old Time Golden Valley Fire Engine
Cooper High School Band
Tractor pulling large pumpkins

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji April 12th 2010

April 12, 2010 Sometimes you are presented with an opportunity and what you need to do is grab it while you can. Such an opportunity happened two nights ago. One of the guys I’m traveling with, Michel, is a raging extravert. Michel has never met a person he can not say hello to and start a conversation. Such was the case with two Saudis who were in the lobby at the our Guest House accommodation called Al Jazerra (which means “island” by the way). Somehow one of these guys mentioned that his cousin owns camels and Michel said that many in our group had not seen camels up-close before. Within seconds, Michel had an invitation from these two to visit his cousin’s camels. Lo and behold, the next evening when we returned from the Assessment Center, ... read more
Michel is amazed as we reach the camels
Camels on the horizen
We have arrived

Middle East » Kuwait » Al Kuwait April 9th 2010

April 9, 2010 Note: You can click on any photo to enlarge it, and then use the numbers at the top to scroll from photo to photo. Be sure to see the photos below the comments on this page and then click on the "page 2" link to see the "extra photos" I've uploaded. : Last Thursday was the weekend and we had arranged for our group to go to Kuwait City, Kuwait for the day, which is about an hour’s drive from where we are in Khafji, Saudi Arabia. Things did not start off well. The driver picked us up at 12:30 pm. There were nine of us including the driver and 8 very narrow seats. The driver, who spoke no English, did not seem surprised or bothered by this. The solution was for one ... read more
Waiting for our visas to Kuwait
Stuck between two countries
Gas Flares

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji April 4th 2010

April 4, 2010 Today is Easter Sunday. As you might imagine, this holiday is not really big here in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In fact, the celebration of Millard Fillmore’s birthday (one of the less significant US Presidents) is more celebrated more than Easter in Saudi Arabia. Since today was the first day of the first assessment center, I felt like I needed to do something Easter-oriented. So I brought from Minneapolis two packages of marshmallow Peeps. These are quite popular in the US at Easter time and they come shaped as either little birds (hence the name Peeps) or bunnies. They come in bright springtime colors such as yellow, pink, light blue, purple, and green. Peeps are made out of marshmallow and covered with colored sugar. I suppose you could toast them over a ... read more
They are made for eating.
Close up of bunny and birdie

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji April 2nd 2010

April 2, 2010 Today was the second day of the weekend and the rest of the group arrives tomorrow. I didn’t have any plans, so I mostly spent the day at the beach, which is only a couple of hundred feet from where I am staying. And what a beach it was! I’m right on the Persian Gulf, or as they refer to it here in Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Gulf. It was 90 degrees, cloudless, with a gentle breeze blowing off the Gulf. As you can see, I was the only one in sight on the beach. It’s hard to believe that no one else was around and I had it all to myself. I also walked to the grocery store, which is about 20 minutes away. I was inside when the lights started to ... read more
A place to rest
A cool piece of coral I found

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji April 1st 2010

April 1, 2010 Today is the weekend, here in Saudi. It’s a warm, beautiful day so I decided to walk into Khafji. It wound up to be a four-hour walk (round trip) to get from where I’m staying into the middle of town. To get there, you have to walk through the industrial section, which is stall after stall of car repair places. One would think there must be one repair shop per driver here. Of course, seeing how they drive their cars, it isn’t too surprising for the need to have this many repair places! I took some photos along the way (I spared you the car repair places, which are seedier than you can imagine). Khafji has about 65,000 people, which is about three times larger than my home town in Minnesota. So it’s ... read more
Mosque in Khafji (1)
The bakery
Preparing the dough

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji March 31st 2010

March 31, 2010 I'm back in Khafji, Saudi Arabia for trip #6 to The Kingdom. Khafji is located just south of the Kuwait border in the very northeast tip of Saudi Arabia. I'll be here until 14 April and I left Minneapolis last week. My mission is to prepare for a series of four assessment centers that start next Sunday (Easter Day). Obviously Easter isn't a big deal here in The Kingdom, which explains the start date. However, I'm brought along two packages of marshmallow peeps to distribute to my colleagues. One package is yellow birdies and the other has neon pink rabbits. The setup for the center has gone very well, but I discovered what happens when you plug in a computer component designed for 110 volts into a socket that has 220 voltage. It ... read more
Sunset in Saudi Arabia
The Moon over the Persian Gulf
A palm tree and the moon

Middle East » Kuwait » Al Kuwait February 18th 2010

This entry never got published. I'm publishing again. (Entry date of February 18, 2010) I’m back in Minnesota, and now my journey has ended. However, there were a few things left to experience since my last blog entry. The Assessment Center concluded successfully despite the Internet going down twice during the last round of testing. I was seconds away from going to “Plan B” which is manual testing (and laborious scoring) when the Internet returned and saved the day. The last evening I invited to dinner three of the client’s people who I worked closely with. I asked them to pick some place where locals would go and we went to a restaurant in Khafji called “The Anchorage.” It was a great meal. In attendance was Edward from India, Mirza from Pakistan, Manny from the Philippines ... read more
At the Assessment Center
Some of the Participants at the Center

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji February 12th 2010

Yesterday, our client sponsor invited us to visit the "Spring Camp" which is an area located about 10 miles from Khafji. It is an area in the middle of the desert that features company-owned tents that can be used for the employees. These tents come with electricity, carpeting, and people to serve food. Apparently, this sort of thing is very popular with Saudis (and Kuwaitis) this time of year before it gets too hot. It’s a lot like going to the cabin by the lake in Minnesota, except that they use tents and the lake is a desert and their aren’t any mosquitoes. We didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived at about 3:30 in the afternoon. We met with our hosts and they gave us a quick tour around. The camp is ... read more
Sunset over the tents
Ted and Peng get ready to go
Sharing a smile

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