Fostering a culture of technology-based entrepreneurship in the Kingdom to meet the increasing need for potable water.
This year Aramco Entrepreneurship Center (AEC) and GE’s innovation center “Ecomagination” launched a global competition in the area of seawater desalination, with a particular focus on using renewable energy. It has already attracted a wide variety of proposals, applying multidisciplinary fields from 32 countries with 108 proposals and more than 15,000 site visits.
The initiative received significant support from HE Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim, the Governor of the state-owned Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), as well as from Saudi Aramco’s Power Systems organization.
Saudi Arabia has few natural water resources, and it depends upon an extensive infrastructure of costly and energy-intensive water desalination plants and rapidly depleting ground water reserves to meet its fast-growing water needs. The country is the world’s largest producer of desalinated water, pumping more than 1 billion cubic meters a year via nearly 2,000 miles of pipelines. Over 50 cities and distribution centers in Saudi Arabia receive their water from these plants.
Current desalination techniques are very energy intensive. Saudi Arabia is burning the equivalent of 1.5 million barrels per day of fuel to power its desalination processes. An increase in energy efficiency or a reduction in consumption is the key to ensuring that the country receives the most value for its natural resources.
The global competition addresses this critical area and potentially presents alternatives from key experts around the world to expand the technology options to consider for SWCC and other Kingdom-based organizations to develop, leverage and deploy in the future, empowering regional entrepreneurship.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Last few weeks saw oil prices nosedive in such a manner that had left many economic analysts baffled. During the same period, this writer also wrote on the unusual decline in the oil prices. In response to one of those write-ups, this writer received an email from an Italian journalist, Federico Simonelli, who writes for the Italian newspaper, Il Secolo XIXI.
Truth be told, the only thing I knew about the paper was the fact that it was the first newspaper that switched to color printing. The Italian journalist wished to seek this writer’s opinion on the reasons and the impact of the decline in the oil prices.
Anyways, we had a nice telephonic conversation and discussed the issue of oil prices. The conversation, which was in English, went well despite the issues arising from this writer’s Saudi accent, Simonelli’s Italian accent and the static during the call.
The conversation somehow forced to ponder over Italy’s ties with Saudi Arabia in various spheres of life. The two countries enjoy strong ties.
There was a time when Italian products were a craze among Saudis. This writer still remembers those FIAT cars roaming Saudi streets in the past. One wonders as to what happened to those cars and where have they vanished.
Now let us focus on the famous young Italian in the Saudi desert known to many old Aramco pioneers as the Italian pirate. In the mid 1940s, there were more than 2,000 Italians working at the Saudi oil installations. According to a book titled, The Caravan Goes On, by Frank Jungers, after the end of WWII, Aramco hired many Italian workers who were stationed in Eritrea. They were hired on single status like many other nationalities because the lack or shortage of family housing for Aramco employees. The Italians were housed in two places, One in Dhahran and the other in Ras Tanura. They had their own kitchen staff and their own recreation facilities. For the Italians, Saudi or American food does not work. We all know about the unique and delicious taste of the Italian cuisine. They were very talented.
Among them was a 24-year-old man with a good sense of humor and a camera. During those days, it was unique thing for the local population, as most of them were unaware of the technological developments taking outside of the Kingdom.
His name was Ilo Battiglli. He was basically a draftsman but during his daily work he used his camera more than any other tool. He was a bright photographer who recorded very important moments in the history of the Saudi oil industry. Workers in Aramco changed his name and started calling him “Ilo the Pirate” because he had his studio on the beach. Many people saw his work and the valuable photographs that he took at many different places. He was seen photographing Saudis, Americans, Italians and many others, which reflected the benefit of putting hands together. His and the work of some other workers helped preserve the story of discovering the most important commodity in today’s history, which changed the fortunes of Saudi Arabia. This Italian photographer or as he is called the Pirate by his coworkers 70 years ago showed us with camera shots the importance of working and living together no matter what part of the world you come from. As for the price of the oil barrel, well, we should leave it to the experts.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. The Italian Pirate in Saudi Desert reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
The Sinochem Quanzhou Refinery in South China’s Fujian province recently received its first shipment of Saudi Aramco crude oil.
The crude shipment of Arabian Medium and Arabian Heavy is the first ever oil the refinery purchased since it officially went into operation in July on the back of a successful trial run early this year.
“The delivery will help us enhance our role as a responsible and reliable energy supplier worldwide as we have been stably powering the world with our energy products,” said Abdallah Al-Subaiyyal, acting president of Aramco Asia. “We are committed to fulfilling our obligations and intend to do so for the future.”
The Very Large Crude Oil Carrier (VLCC) Mt Ingrid carrying the crude oil arrived at Quanzhou Huanggan Port in the South China Fujian province on August 19 after a 22-day voyage. The tanker started unloading the oil upon arrival.
State-backed Sinochem first began doing business with Saudi Aramco back in the 1990s. The newly started refinery, a fully owned Sinochem subsidiary with a capacity of 240,000 barrels per day (bpd), can produce gasoline and diesel that meet Euro V standards.
Sinochem updated its Crude Oil Sales Agreement (COSA) with Saudi Aramco in May to import 540,000 bpd of Arabian Medium and Arabian Heavy crude oil before its Quanzhou refinery began operations in July.
The volume of this specific shipment is about 2 million barrels. This specific VLCC is the first of a new increment of supply to China. Quanzhou refinery added an additional 54,000 bpd to Sinochem’s existing COSA with Saudi Aramco taking it from 45,000 to 99,000 barrels per day.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
When people discuss Yemen, they usually refer to the large southwestern area of the Arabian Peninsula strategically sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Oman with thousands of miles of beautiful and pristine seashores. Whenever Yemenis are discussed, they are seen as one people bound by centuries of tradition sharing a common ideology.
However, those well versed with true situation in Yemen knows fully well that the case is otherwise. It was until recently that Yemen was divided into two countries: North and South. Both sides, unfortunately, spent years fighting each other. Suddenly, we saw them getting united. That unity did not come cheap. Many Yemenis paid with their lives for that unity. The bloody game is far from over in Yemen; internal disputes continue to haunt this Arab country.
Historically, People’s Republic of South Yemen was more stable and prosperous as compared to its northern counterpart. Aden was famous for its beautiful streets and advanced civic infrastructure during the 1960s at a time when many major regional capitals even lacked basic amenities. It was years ahead of various Gulf cities such as Dubai and Doha. This ancient seaport continues to enjoy strategic importance in the region.
In 1967, it was seen as the future center of the so-called capital of the Middle East free zone. Simply put, Aden had more potential than Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Doha put together to become the regional trade hub. Aden was destined to be the Hong Kong of the Middle East. But, communism took over and instability became the second name of South Yemen.
North Yemen was, however, different. There was no strong central government. Only the capital Sanaa, Taaz and Hudaidah had some traces of a government. The rest of the country remained beyond the control of any authority. Tribal infighting and bloody coups cost Yemen thousands of lives. North Yemen also had the potential to emerge as a prosperous country due to its rich and fertile land and easily accessible Gulf markets. It just needed construction of three major highways. Instead of utilizing its historical dam and rich soil, they grew Qat.
People grew poorer and as time passed got more desperate. Unfortunately, Yemen never utilized the billions of dollars of financial aid that they received from the Gulf states especially from Saudi Arabia and the US, Japan, Europe and many other countries. North and South Yemenis are considered the most skilled and hardworking people in the region. It was the Yemenis who built most of the infrastructures in Gulf countries but they simply forgot to build their own. They were busy chewing Qat and fighting each other. South and North Yemen got united in 1990 and later on a brief but bloody civil war erupted in 1994.
Whatever happening in Yemen is a result of years of instability and turmoil. Truth be told, Saudi Arabia and other friends of Yemen had been making all-out efforts to help Yemen but Yemenis don’t appear to pull themselves out of this bottomless pit of violence and instability.
Despite the availability of various raw materials and fertile land, Yemenis are unable to cooperate with each other to develop their country. As long as Yemenis belonging to different hues from across the country don’t sit together and iron out their differences, no foreign power can help restore stability in Yemen. The uplift of Yemen depends on the Yemenis. The money they waste on chewing Qat in one year can help build hospitals, schools and road networks. Yemenis could make hundreds of millions every year by just opening their archaeological treasures.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Victim of Mismanagement reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Faryal Perwez Haque went on a fortnight trip to Sichuan Normal University (SNU)in Chengdu China. She was part of a cultural exchange between the University of Karachi (UoK) Pakistan and SNU. She studied Chinese language and culture at the Confucius Institute at UoK. It was a fortnight trip starting from 29 August thru 12 September 2014, it includes lectures, field trips and cultural activities-a complete immersion into life in the capital of Sichuan Province. Faryal is the youngest daughter of Mr. Perwez Alam Haque Saudi Aramco Badge No. 73320 and a permanent member of Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association (SAEEA) worked for the Marine Department Ras Tanura.
The city of Chengdu is among the top five major cities of China, a vibrant economic hub that was named the World Capital of Gastronomy in 2010. The Sichuan province has a functioning, millennia-old irrigation system termed a UNESCO World Heritage Site while on the other hand; it is one of the fastest growing technical and business hubs in China. Naturally it attracts students from all over the world, and so, the University of Karachi’s scholars of Chinese language, albeit a select few, arrive here within 6 months of studying at their campus’ Confucius Institute.
Faryal visited the world famous Giant Panda sanctuary to have an up close view of the majestic creatures in their natural habitat. An avid nature enthusiast, she relished the abundance of natural beauty in the mountains surrounding the city of Du Jiang Yan and the Min River. As a popular activity for locals and visitors, there is a steep and daunting, not to mention time consuming, journey up the slopes of the Qing Cheng Mountain which is one of the holiest place in the Dao religion. Each stoppage on Faryal’s trek to the summit was marked by a Daoist Temple and a personal sense of wonder and achievement. The summit of the mountain gave a misty and soothing view of the lush valley down below.
The province of Sichuan has a lot to offer for an adventurous food lover, whether it is a spicy hot pot, aromatic tofu or eye catching squirrel fish (a normal fish by any terms). Between sessions of taichi and weiqi, Faryal sampled the local cuisine and the cultural aspects of life on the SNU campus. Folk music and dance from both Pakistan and China was performed together by both the hosts and the guests to the amusement of all present. Most of the days were spent in taking courses on Chinese language, history and culture from the eminent faculty members and the late evenings were spent playing sports and socializing with the hospitable and welcoming students.
Faryal found the stay a great opportunity to practice speaking Chinese with native speakers and found that her confidence and skill increased. The shopping district of the city was explored without a local guide, where she did rigorous bargaining on goods with the shopkeepers by employing her skill in Chinese speaking. Finally, on the penultimate day, Faryal sat for an exam assessing her grasp of the concepts she had learnt which she cleared with a good score and received her certificate from the Dean of SNU. Later in the day, she and her colleagues attended a lunch in their honour hosted by the Consul General of Pakistan in China Ms Amna Balouch.
Faryal’s journey of discovery continues as do her studies. Upon return to Karachi, she enrolled into the next level in her study program on a scholarship based on her previous scores. She is looking forward to sitting for the HSK 3 exam (Chinese Proficiency Test – level 3) next year.