Media Must Play Responsible Social Role

3 August 2015 | 1 comment | Opinions & Editorials | by

Khaled AlmaeenaKhaled Almaeena

Have the media organizations played a role in the development of media in the Kingdom? An American journalist asked me this question a week ago.

The unexpected question made me sit up and ponder for a couple of days in which I did ask about a few people, and the answer that stared back at me was No.

I arrived at this answer after observing the workings of the media organizations over the years.

Rather than focus on streamlining the media, upgrading reporting styles, attracting and training potential journalists all what was visibly observed was the struggle in the broad room, the conflict between the administration and the editor-in-chief and total lack of professionalism.

We have not been able to keep up with the progress in media with all its new acquisitions of social media and other technologies.

It’s good to go online with your print edition but that’s not progress.
And, secondly, many of those in charge of media organizations whether administration or editorial were either totally removed or very far from the field of journalism.

To be a successful media person one has to be well-versed in the language, be global, have cultural diversity and should have the courage to probe for accuracy and truth.

It’s good to be comfortable on trips or receptions but how many papers seek the truth — be it investigative reporting uncovering unpleasant facts, ruffling feathers of officials and serving the public interest.

To add to the already sorry state is the almost choking hold of editorial management many of whom discourage talent.

Citing a personal example, I remember, on appointing a senior editor I was told, “why did you get him? He could replace you!!

My reply was “so what”.

In real life and in any industry, you cannot play it safe by compromising on talent, especially media.

Why is the media important?

It is there to focus on the happenings of society whether negative or positive.

It is there to act as a bridge between the authorities and the public.
It should be the eye of the government. They say eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

We cannot go on hailing and praising. We cannot go on thumping our chests that we are the best.

We cannot just go on being oblivious to the harsh realities of the present society.

Yes, it’s good to be patriotic.

However, as Samuel Johnson “the English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature, said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”.

The media should play a responsible social role to enhance knowledge, civic sense, build bridges between segments of society, add cohesion and create awareness of the importance of national unity.

Media administrators can help by investing in programs to uplift the professional qualities of their journalists rather than just gloating over end of year figures.

— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

Aramco Brats: I Didn’t Know

3 August 2015 | 2 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Even though I have never worked for Saudi Aramco, I have been a close follower of this company. I had to. I was born and raised in the middle of the oil fields that this company had been discovering since 1938.

My association and fascination of this company started at a very early stage of my life through the many cousins who worked for Aramco and later on when I attended schools in Al Hassa that are built and maintained by Aramco. In addition, I have written many articles about Aramco both in English and Arabic. And I don’t think there is a book or a publication about Armaco that I haven’t read. But, I was unaware of one thing about Aramco. I simply didn’t know it existed. Yes, I heard about it, but ignored it. It is called Aramco Brats.

I heard about Aramco Brats many years ago. But, what I have heard about them is that they are called Aramco kids. Simply put, they were the sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of former Aramco employees… Silly me… Because later on I realized that these kids are in their 40s, 50s and some of them even in their 60s. These big, very big kids were born and raised in Saudi Arabia. They were third generation kids. Their fathers or grandfathers came to Saudi Arabia to look for oil during the beginning of the first oil discoveries. Not only these kids, but even fathers of some of them were born in Saudi Arabia. Most of them are from the United States, but there are also many Aramco Brats from other parts of the world. Now, they are scattered all over the world. As a matter of fact Aramco Brats operate as a full-fledged organization. They have their own website and board of directors. And they even have annual reunions. And what surprised me is that their current president is an American from India named Hirath Ghori whose father came to work for Aramco in Saudi Arabia in 1953. That is many years before I was born. Honestly, I was born a few years after 1953. Hirath was born in India in 1960 and he and his family left Saudi Arabia in 1983. But, guess what? Hirath is back in Saudi Arabia.

Now, when I looked at the long list of Aramco Brats board of directors and read more about them and their activities, I realized that these Brats were probably raised and educated in the best environment. Not because of Aramco or Saudi Arabia, but because their fathers and grandfathers came to Saudi Arabia with skills and education that are appreciated all over the world. And they raised their kids in foreign environment. They mixed with the local people in Saudi Arabia and with those from around the world. This broadened their thinking and made them appreciate the world they live in.

In addition, many of these young kids (now old) have traveled at a very young age to many parts of the world where they spent some of their vacations. This helped them in their education. Most of them attended schools in Saudi Arabia and later on joined universities back in the United States or other countries. But, many of them were ahead of others in knowing other people’s cultures, politics and geography of the world.

As we know, expatriates have more time to study at home because of the nature of their parents’ work habit. In other words, the more I read about the Aramco Brats, the more I knew they lived differently from many other people.

Many of the Aramco Brats saw Saudi Arabia emerge as a developed country. They saw it develop in every sector — education, health care, aviation, transportation and many other fields. Projects pertaining to these sectors were initiated by Saudi Aramco and in reality the fathers and grandfathers of Aramco Brats were behind the projects.

I will write about the relations between Aramco Brats, Saudi young men and women and Saudi Aramco achievements. But, for the time being, I do apologize to Aramco Brats for revealing their real ages. Many Saudis still think that Aramco Brats are just kids. They are simply, sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of former Aramco employees…

Aramco Brats, I didn’t know you call Saudi Arabia…Home.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Aramco Brats: I Didn’t Know reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.

Launching the Kingdom’s First Carbon Capture Project

30 July 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Launching the Kingdom’s First Carbon Capture Project

Being the largest of its kind in the Middle East, Saudi Aramco’s first carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery pilot project demonstrates commitment to environmental stewardship.

Carbon capture and sequestration is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from large sources, such as power plants, storing it and depositing it underground where it will not enter the atmosphere.

In the pilot project, 40 million standard cubic feet per day of CO2 will be captured at Hawiyah gas recovery plant and then piped 85 kilometers to the ‘Uthmaniyah field. At ‘Uthmaniyah, it will be injected — and sequestered, or stored — into flooded oil reservoirs under high pressure to enhance oil recovery, making it a win-win solution.

The project aims to enhance oil recovery beyond the more common method of water flooding, and is the largest of its kind in the Middle East.

“This breakthrough initiative demonstrates that we, as an industry leader, are part of the solution to proactively address global environmental challenges,” said Amin H. Nasser, acting president and CEO. “Saudi Aramco is carrying out extensive research to enable us to lower our carbon footprint while continuing to supply the energy the world needs.”

Reducing CO2 Emissions

Led by the Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC-Advanced Research Center, the company’s Carbon Management Technology Road Map includes many focus areas with a main goal of developing the required technologies to reduce CO2 emissions.

Reducing gas flaring, introducing zero-discharge technologies at well sites, and implementing a comprehensive water conservation policy at all plants and communities are among the company’s environmental protection efforts.

Environmental stewardship has long been a hallmark of Saudi Aramco’s business, with the company’s environmental protection policy formally established in 1963 and its Master Gas System, which significantly reduced CO2 emissions, in the 1970s.

The pilot project is the latest in the company’s list of efforts, injecting 800,000 tons of CO2 every year into flooded oil reservoirs. A monitoring system is in place to measure how much of that CO2 remains sequestered underground.

Constant Monitoring

The project includes an elaborate monitoring and surveillance program that will collect data to evaluate its performance and build public confidence in the Kingdom’s — and the GCC’s — first CO2 sequestration project.

Two observation wells will measure how much of the 800,000 tons of injected CO2 will remain sequestered in the reservoir. It is estimated that as much as 40% of it will be permanently sequestered.

Monitoring will take place with a range of methods, including seismic monitoring, electromagnetic surveys, borehole and surface gravity, and inter-well tracer tests.

Near the ‘Uthmaniyah field, where the CO2 will be injected, a new standalone high pressure production trap, a new compressor and associated facilities for handling high concentrated CO2 production streams have been built. This gas-oil separation plant, a so-called GOSP, is where the monitoring of produced fluids will take place, and where Saudi Aramco engineers will ensure that as much of the CO2 as possible remains sequestered underground.

The facility has been retrofitted to include new facilities to handle recovered fluids for further processing.

Over the next three to five years, the pilot project will be studied by field engineers and researchers, and lessons learned from this project will be used at facilities and fields around the Kingdom.

Iqbal Ahmed Retires After More Than Four Decades of Service

29 July 2015 | 5 comments | Annuitants | by

Iqbal Ahmed

After 42 years of service with the company, senior drilling engineer consultant Iqbal Ahmed has retired.

Iqbal, born in Amraoti, India, ended his career with Saudi Aramco in the Drilling and Workover Department in Dhahran.

He started with the company in September of 1973, three years after he graduated with a B.S. electrical engineering degree from the NED Government Engineering College in Karachi. His first job was as an engineer with Drilling and Workover in Abqaiq, a role he carried out until 1977 when he was promoted to supervisor. In 1980, he was appointed general supervisor.

From 1986 until his retirement, he worked in Dhahran with Drilling and Workover as a general supervisor, acting manager, and senior consultant.

Iqbal described his long career with Saudi Aramco as rewarding. “I learned a lot, and I am still learning about the drilling business,” he said. “I made many friends and took part in several important and challenging projects to develop the Saudi Aramco oil fields.”

Iqbal is married to Nighat Ahmed, and the couple have three children: Tariq (38), who works as a health, safety, and environment adviser in ‘Udhailiyah; Kamran (35), who resides in Houston, Texas, in the U.S., where he works as a doctor of internal medicine; and Sana (31), who works as a graphic designer in Chicago, Illinois, in the U.S.

Iqbal and Nighat have three grandchildren: Saim (1¼), Saif (2) and Sumer (4 months).

Iqbal’s hobbies include badminton, fishing, working on mechanical equipment, Scrabble and social work. He was also president of the Saudi Aramco Employees Association (SAEA) in Dhahran for a total of eight years.

Night enjoys cooking, home decoration and writing.

“I have seen drilling operations grow from a six to eight rig operation to many more rigs today,” Iqbal said. “During the past four decades, I have seen Saudi Aramco experience four cycles of oil price fluctuation which caused the curtailing of operations. Kingdomwide, I witnessed the transformation of the roads network, highways, and infrastructure. All three of my children and one grandson were born and raised here. For us, this is home.”

Warm wishes to Iqbal.

Owens Retire, Leave Rich Dhahran Legacy

29 July 2015 | 6 comments | Annuitants | by

Owens Retire, Leave Rich Dhahran Legacy

For most Saudi Aramco expats, retirement means “going home,” but for Tom Owen, things will be a bit different. A second generation Aramcon, Tom Owen was born in Dhahran 63 summers ago and boasts he has spent every summer of his life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, most of that in Dhahran.

Tom’s father, William Owen, was general counsel for the company, and his mother, Peggy, was an active member of the community. While attending college, he worked five summers for Saudi Aramco, followed by four years working for Tradco Vulcan as a contractor to the company.

Tom’s professional career with Saudi Aramco began in 1980, working in Drilling Purchasing. This was followed by many years as a chemicals buyer, then operations specialist responsible for complex purchases and claims, as well as pioneering chemical alliances for refineries and gas plants. He completed his Purchasing tenure as a category manager. Tom wraps up his last two years of his career with Saudi Aramco in Unconventional Resources, helping to develop a new Unconventional Resource Supply Chain and associated contracts.

Tom’s community activities included serving as president of both the Dhahran Arabian Horses Association (DAHA) and Dhahran Youth Baseball, shed manager for Half Moon Yacht Association (HMYA), and a member of the Dive Association, Tennis Club, Men’s Softball (Bat Attitudes), Simulated Sports Society Football (SSS), as well as a leader/coach for the Boy Scouts, Little League Baseball, and Saudi Aramco Youth Soccer Organization travel team.

Kathleen Owen came to the Kingdom in 1984. Kathy’s career with the company spans 25 years, including Exploration, Community Services, Office Services, Informat ion Technology, Finance, Operations Services, and most recently, Technical Services, where she spearheaded programs targeting first-line supervisors and mentoring relationships, as well as other HR-related programs. Kathy has also been a key facilitator in addition to her involvement in initiating a number of companywide organizational change initiatives.

Her community activities have included Saudi Aramco Employees Association (as the first woman President), co–president of the Beta Sigma Phi Alpha chapter, HMYA Safety and Rules officer, and DAHA as well as involvement in the Scouts. She has also been recognized for her key contributions to special corporate events, such as the Company’s 75th anniversary. Recently, Kathy was awarded the CEO’s Excellence Award for her role as program chair and organizing committee member for the past three KSA Saudi Aramco Annuitant Reunions.

Avid campers, the Owens have led many camping expeditions across the Kingdom. Their love of SCUBA diving has taken them on trips to the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf, with everyone in the family certified divers. The Owen menagerie has included many salukis, as well as three horses that have won ribbons in all classes of competition. Their association with HMYA spanned more than 35 years, and they were key to starting and maintaining several popular HMYA events.

The Owens have three children. William currently works for ASC in Houston; Kristina attends university in Texas; and Christopher is carrying on the family tradition at Culver Military Academy. Both of the Owen boys played on Arabian American Little League travel teams, playing in Little League Championship games in Europe and Asia, and the championship games in the U.S. Kristina participated in baseball and softball, and her love of horseback riding resulted in a great many DAHA equestrian awards.

The family has been very fortunate to have the company of Tom’s siblings for most of their years here with Saudi Aramco, as Tom’s sister and two brothers have spent much of their careers in Dhahran as well.

The Owen family’s love for travel has taken them to every corner and every region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, throughout the GCC, and beyond, and they will miss the beauty and diversity of Arabia. As they leave their home of so many years, striking off on new adventures, it is the many deep and lasting friendships they have made with the people of Saudi Arabia that will forever be their most cherished memories and treasures.

Tom, Kathy, and their children feel a great kinship to the people of Saudi Arabia, and offer their thanks and gratitude to the people here for their abundant generosity, their matchless hospitality, their smiles, and good cheer.

They will return to their family home and can be reached at 3023 Fairway Drive, Sugar Land, TX 77478, U.S. Email contacts are or