Blogs from Khafji, Saudi Arabia, Middle East

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Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji August 16th 2012

Six months after I started my first “real” job in 2005, my boss calls me into her office and says I need to go to Saudi Arabia in a couple of weeks. As she (the one with actual experience) is a single Muslim woman, she couldn't go which means I would get to hang out in the desert and pretend I knew what I was doing. I have to admit that it was a little unnerving. I had never been to the Middle East, much less the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I was still in the “fake it till you make it” stage of my career (still am, really), and the account at stake was very valuable. But, whatever. I knew I’d come back with stories. As I got ready to head to the airport for ... read more
My hotel room in Khafji
Back in Bahrain with the Singers

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 » 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
Paradise?
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 » Saudi Arabia » Khafji February 12th 2010

Written February 9, 2010; Published February 12, 2010 I’ve been in Saudi Arabia for 8 days now. We still don’t have Internet access at the villa. This is strange because there is a network/internet port on almost every wall. The client starting asking for Internet connections for our accommodation about a month ago. They have called the IT department daily since I got here. But still nothing. Every day we are told “tomorrow” inshallah (God willing). Apparently it is not God’s will that we have Internet access. This means we can’t keep up with our work email, personal email, sending reports from the assessment center and most importantly my blog! Things move very slowly in Saudi. I came here a week before the assessment center started to get ready and it’s a good thing I did. ... read more
The Villa
Near the Villa
Rain in the Desert?

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

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khafji February 12th 2010

Written February 1, 2010; Published February 12, 2010 I arrived at the Kuwait City airport shortly after midnight on Monday, February 1 after leaving Minneapolis on Friday evening. The process for getting a transit visa to be driven from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia is much more time-intensive than arriving in Bahrain. However, the client nicely made arrangements for the visa to be waiting upon arrival. It took a bit of looking but I found the right counter, collected my visa, and went though immigration. It’s always so hard to know what to do the very first time. There was supposed to be a driver holding up a sign with my name, but I didn’t see my name on any of the signs. As I was about to give up, I was approached by a guy who ... read more
Khafji
My kitchen in the Rajan Hotel
My bathroom at the Rajan Hotel




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