Blogs from Saudi Arabia, Middle East - page 16


Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 9th 2009

Coaching Day My friend eve knows what the weird bird is that I photographed! It’s called a Hoopoe. According to Wikepedia, “The Hoopoe is widespread in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. It migrates from all but the southernmost part of its range to the tropics in winter. Hoopoes were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt and symbols of virtue in Persia, but were thought of as thieves across much of Europe and harbingers of war in Scandinavia.” Today was the last day in the cycle. In between Assessment Centers, there is one day for coaches to meet people that went through the process previously. It’s a much easier day for me because there are no assessments done. I gave a presentation to the client staff, and then did mostly ... read more

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 8th 2009

First Assessment Center Completed While you were sleeping I was starting Day 2 of the first assessment center. Of course, that’s only fair since I had my weekend on Thursday and Friday. This morning I had a conversation with Kim, who is the caterer. He’s there all day long serving food, cleaning up, etc. He’s from the Philippines and tells me that his dream is to live in the US. I hope he makes it. He’s a great guy, but the only thing is that I can’t get him to stop calling me “sir.” Today I had a bit more time to talk to some of the Participants. One Saudi had lived in Calgary and liked hockey. I gave him points for that. Then he told me that the Wild was really bad, so he lost ... read more
Hello There
Kim the Caterer

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 7th 2009

First day with Saudi Participants I didn’t have time to scout out the route to the Assessment Center last night because Esbjorn and I went to Khobar and it was dark when we got back. So of course, it was even harder to find it this morning - in the dark. Wait, there’s more. So I walk down the three flights of stairs from my room, go outside, and it’s raining! What the heck? It’s Saudi Arabia, for crying out loud. Fortunately, being a good prepared Minnesotan, I had packed a umbrella. (I did leave my snow boots at home, however.) Fortunately, I went back because it took four times as long to get there as it should. I kept thinking of that stupid Family Circus cartoon where the kid goes all over the place to ... read more
Steineke Hall - #1
Steineke Hall - #2
Steineke Hall - #3

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 6th 2009

Shwarma in Al Khobar Today was the second day of the weekend, so it's off to work tomorrow. I'm getting more comfortable by the hour. I mostly worked today, entering GPI scores into Excel spreadsheets (hey Paula, please note that Ted is working hard even on his days off!). But don't cry for me (Argentina). I was able to sit outside in 70 degrees in the sun with my laptop. However to speed things up, I went back to my room and made good time entering scores by using both the desktop in my room next to my laptop (one to display the system scores and one for entering the data into Excel. Hey Paula, I’m working on TWO PC’s! I started the morning with breakfast at the Dining Hall (this is called “The Dining Hall” ... read more
Water Tower in Khobar

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 5th 2009

I made it! Dateline: Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Yesterday, the borders were actually very easy to pass through without any hassles. The drive from the country of Bahrain to the Aramco place in Saudi Arabia took about an hour, including getting finger-printed at the border (that's a one time thing), so I got here at about 11 pm (local time) and went to sleep at about midnight. It's very weird seeing people dress in Arab clothing. The women are dressed in a mix of western clothes for westerners and partial or full covering for Middle Eastern women (including the full black dress with the eye slits). There are many men wearing the white robes. I keep thinking I'm on a movie set! Almost everything is in English and Arabic, so I can read almost all of the ... read more
Stop Sign
Steineke Hall
Aramco Truck

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran February 5th 2009

Ba ba ba, ba ba Dhahan - Beach Boys The Aramco compound, in Dhahran is about 30 in-land from Al Khobar. This evening I took the bus with another consultant to Al Khobar because two of the consultants are staying there (because of a shortage of apartments here). Al Khobar is a much larger town than Dhahran. It was great to get into the "real" Saudi Arabia, but it's disconcerting to see Applebees in Arabic (it is also in English; otherwise I would have no idea, of course). Applebees in Saudi Arabia is just wrong! They also have Chili's here, but I suppose that you won't see ads on TV for "baby back, baby back, baby back ribs." (Pork is not legal.) It's very disconcerting to see Applebees and men and women in flowing robes walking ... read more
Weird birds
Diet Pepsi

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Mecca January 27th 2009

Salam u aleikum heißt übersetzt „Frieden sei mit dir“ Mecca Die Pilgerfahrt nach Mecca sollte ein jeder Muslim einmal im Leben machen. Es war der große Lebenstraum meiner Mutter die Pilgerfahrt in diesem Jahr zu machen und ich habe mich entschieden sie dabei zu begleiten. Für mich war es eine ganz neue Welt und ein Abenteuer in vielerlei Hinsicht. In diesem Jahr waren 4 Millionen Menschen in Mecca - 4 Millionen Menschen aus mehr als 100 Nationen. Viele dieser Pilger haben ihr Leben lang gespart um diese Reise machen zu können. Für andere hat das ganze Dorf gespart, damit einer von ihnen diese Reise machen kann. Die Reise geht los Der Flug geht von Frankfurt nach Amman und wir verbringen einige Zeit bei der Familie, bevor unsere Fahrt am Morgen des 3. Tages mit dem ... read more
in the mosque
Tire problems
looks not really good

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Riyadh December 24th 2008

"On your left, you see a popular mall. On your right, there's another one people like to visit...also there's a mall attached to your hotel. It has a great sushi place." In the twenty-minute ride from the airport, I counted no less than eight megamalls in Riyadh. In a place where there's no public cinema and few music/cultural event venues, where restaurants are divided into men's and family sections, where few people walk outside (especially in the summer when temperatures can be over 140 degrees F), what is a young Saudi to do? Go to the mall! Hey, they are air-conditioned and allow for flirtatious glances at passing members of the opposite sex (even if the women are often covered head to foot). In our progression through Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, the capital, was fittingly our last ... read more
McDonald's and the Gender Divide
Faisaliah Tower
Bottle Opener...or The Kingdom Tower

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Dhahran December 23rd 2008

You know, warm, forthy camel milk straight from the source ain't so bad. I bet it would even go well with coffee. A Saudi Starbucks original! Starting in Houston, our group had been teased with the prospect of a visit to Shaybah, a major oil drilling development in the Rub' al-Khali (or Empty Quarter), an area of dramatic, towering red sand dunes. A desert's desert. But, alas, a tease was all it was. But, thankfully, our Aramco guide, sensing our disappointment, organized a venture into the desert just outside of Dhahran where we got to meet a camel herder. While perhaps not as spectacular, this visit was the first time on the trip that I felt: yes, I am in Saudi. It was also the moment I began to see just what a muddle of tradition ... read more
Road to No Where
Bull and Master
Watch out! Camels spit!

Middle East » Saudi Arabia » Jeddah December 23rd 2008

As everyone in our group came to know (and probably got tired of hearing!), I was a student of Ottoman history in a former lifetime. The second part of our journey - to Jeddah and the Hijaz - was an opportunity for me to walk the walk of the Arabian Peninsula's Ottoman past. And with the end of the Hajj just a few days before our arrival, I got to experience the aftershocks of the most important of Islam's communal rites. An Ottomanist's dream! *** Landing in Jeddah's airport, I realized right away that we were in a very different Saudi than what we'd experienced in Dhahran, even considering our foray into the desert. Jeddah, from it's earliest days (which stretch back well over a thousand years), has been a cosmopolitan entrepot and the staging point ... read more
Jeddah as Crossroads
Coffee and Date
Empowering Saudi Women

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