Blogs from Saudi Arabia, Middle East - page 15


Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 18th 2009

The Start of the Three Day Weekend Let me start by saying that I’m still having trouble with the concept that we have a Saturday holiday. I think the concept of Saturday and Sunday being the weekend is so ingrained in our heads that it’s hard to conceive that it could be different somewhere else. There is so much that we take for granted as “normal” without realizing that it’s normal for us but not for others. Alternate states of normal is something very hard for most Americans and no doubt this is the source of many misunderstandings we have. I was able to talk a bit with Reem (the first woman at the SAC center since I’ve been here). She’s working out of Aramco’s Houston office. She works with Saudi college students who study abroad. ... read more
Another Desert Pigeon
The Noisy Zone
Lunch Today - Chicken and Rice

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 17th 2009

Another Day, Another Riyahl I think I’m actually catching on to what I’m supposed to be doing here. Well, most of the time. Pat stopped me in the hall and said that Esbjorn was having trouble with the Excel Workbook that we are piloting. I went to the coaches room to see if I could figure out what was going on. I’ve never touched a Mac and it’s a bit like driving a stick if you’ve only driven an automatic. It didn’t have left and right mouse buttons and the controls were different than your basic (Microsoft) PC. It’s kind of like in Star Trek when they are at the controls of an alien spacecraft (but the geek in me digresses). So I finally figure out how to work the controls and then I notice that ... read more
Aussie 2
Aussie 3
Aussie 4

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Khobar February 16th 2009

Dinner in Khobar Tonight I had dinner in Khobar with a friend I met who is from Bangladesh. He is a professor at the local university and has been in Saudi for about four months now. We ate at a Thai restaurant that was excellent. I was not brave enough to order from the spicy food part of the menu, but perhaps next time. The shrimp soup was really fantastic, but I’m not sure they deliver to Minneapolis. Bummer. It was fun to talk to Manir, whose English is better than mine. We discussed our jobs, families, and experiences in Khobar. His wife and family are still back in Bangladesh, but will hopefully be joining him soon. To me, being away from home and family for three weeks is a very long time indeed. However, there ... read more

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 15th 2009

Today was the end of SAC III, so that means we are half-way through the six assessment centers. Wow! Kim set out breakfast today and imagine my surprise when it was bagels, lox, and cream cheese. They may have been the last thing I expected for breakfast. And it was delicious! One of the things I like best about day 2 (of the two-day process) is that it is a bit more relaxed because by lunch time, all of the assessments have been completed and all that remains for the candidates are a couple of briefing sessions and their feedback from the consultants. I had a few interesting conversations. One conversation I had was for quite long with a man who is in “computer forensics.” If there is computer fraud, he is called in to investigate. ... read more
More Tasty Treats for Breakfast
And still more

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 14th 2009

Every day, especially in the morning when I’m walking to breakfast or the SAC Center, I hear sounds that sound a lot like an owl. It’s pretty loud and it comes from all over. You can hear these birds at all times of the day, every day. They sound louder in the morning perhaps because it’s quieter. I asked one of the Participants what the sound was and they said it was a desert pigeon (not a dessert pigeon, by the way). See for a bit more detail. The sand storm has blown away and it was bright and sunny today. The wind that was around during the few sand storm days is also gone. You’ll note of course that the weather returned to nice just when the weekend here ended. The not nice weather ... read more
Sign to Mecca
Prayer Rug

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Ras Tanura February 13th 2009

A More Relaxing Day Off Breakfast today was the specialty of house: waffles. They have about 12 giant waffle irons and everyone says they are the best. Well, when in Saudi Arabia, do what the Americans do: eat the waffles. So I had a huge waffle and a mug of coffee for about $2.00. The dinner plate sized pancakes are a $1 each. Not only does the Aramco compound look like 1959, but the prices match too. (Including the price of gas, of course). After breakfast, Esbjorn (the unofficial tour leader with 20 trips here at 3 weeks per trip), Glyn (from Australia), and I went to Ras Tanura, which is another Aramco compound an hour from Dhahran. It’s similar to here, but they are right on the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. We spent about three hours ... read more
Esbjorn and Glyn
Saudi Strip Mall

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 12th 2009

The Weekend It’s the weekend (here) and I’m in a really good mood this morning. Yesterday my hotel phone alarm didn’t go off (user error, I’m sure), but fortunately I have an alarm clock back-up and that jolted me awake. Thank God for back-up systems! I was looking forward to sleeping late with no alarm clocks. So I slept to 6:30 and then got up. How decadent. :) I went to breakfast this morning at The Dining Hall. I’m embarrassed to say how inexpensive the food is there. Obviously it is highly subsidized. I had an “everything” omelet, a plate of bacon, and a mug of coffee for 11 SAR, which is about $2.75. The bacon is obviously not pork, and I have no idea what it is made of, but I try not to ... read more
TV 2
TV 3
TV 4

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 12th 2009

Did I say Today was a Day Off? It's now almost midnight and today turned out to be a bit more work than I anticipated. I went to the Center to setup for Saturday and do a training session for the Consultants. That lasted from noon to 4 pm. But some technical glitches meant calls to Minneapolis, St. Louis, and work for me until 11 pm. :( But the good news is that it’s all fixed and all is right with the world. Tomorrow I’m going with Esbjorn to the beach. I think that must be on the Persian Gulf (aka Arabian Gulf) since I’m pretty sure they don’t have a whole lot of lakes around here! Oasis anyone? I talked to Lu-Anne today, who is a Canadian working at Aramco. She does a lot of ... read more
Out my Window At Steineke
Window Photo #2
Surgical Mask

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 11th 2009

Would you say "It's Sanding Out"? It’s been great interacting with the Participants because I’ve never talked to a Saudi before. I had a pretty long discussion today with a guy who is a helicopter pilot for Aramco. Ironically, he was in Grand Forks, ND during 9/11 and his mother was worried about him (she didn’t know that Grand Forks isn’t anywhere near NY)! Of course my mother is worried about me being here, so perhaps mothers are the same the world over. Today was a sand-storm and the sky turned a beautiful golden color. Everyone from here laughed at me when I got excited about the sandstorm, but then the consultants came out and were equally impressed so I didn’t feel as much like as much of a dork. It’s not like a snowstorm made ... read more
Sand Storm #2
Sand Storm #3

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 10th 2009

A New Cycle Begins Today was the start of a new assessment cycle. It’s kind of like the movie Ground Hog Day. There will be a total of six cycles in the three weeks that I’m here. It’s kind of weird. I did the Logistics piece of the orientation as well as the briefings for the simulations. Although that doesn’t mean anything to most of you, it does show that I’m starting to feel part of this thing, instead of an observer. So although today was still crazy-busy, it was less stressful for me personally. I think that this may be my one and only trip to The Kingdom (as it’s known here) because I think the client will decide to do their own administration in the future. But you never know. Ironically, yesterday I got ... read more
I had to take their photo too!
You can sit outside here!

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