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KSA Reunion – March 9-18, 2015

16 July 2014 | comments (7) | Reunions | by

2015 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Reunion

This message is from Ali Baluchi, Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the 2015 Expatriate KSA Reunion.

Due to the overwhelming increase in registration by the retirees and their families for the current 2015 KSA Reunion, we are pleased to announce that the next reunion is advanced two years ahead of normal timing. Now is scheduled for March 11, through March 23, 2019, instead of March 2021. We hope this change will meet the wishes and expectations of some who could delay their participation at this time, due to certain circumstances, to the next one planned for 2019.

We hope, such change will insure some retirees and their families that the Expatriate Reunions will continue, since there is a desire among many retirees of Aramco to visit their so called second home, Saudi Arabia.


29th Saudi Aramco Annuitant’s Reunion

16 July 2014 | comments (0) | Annuitants | by

29th Saudi Aramco Annuitant’s Reunion
September 5-8, 2014

Who is coming to the reunion? Download here

COUNTDOWN!  5-4-3-2-1 for 5-6-7-8 – of September, that is.  If you have not yet reserved your room, NOW is the time to book your room at the Omni Grove Park Inn.  The deadline is August 4th to take advantage of the contracted price per room.  After that, you can still reserve a room, but it will be at a slightly higher price.

Plans are coming together and your hosts & co-hosts urge you to get not only your room reservations in, but also your Registration Form, plus the registration fee. Golf fees and any of the tours you have signed up for should be pre-paid as soon as possible.
Things “to do” while at the Grove Park Inn:

REGISTRATION AREA:  Following check-in, and getting settled in your room, go to the Registration Area located in the Sammons Wing.  Aramco friends will greet you with a smile, hand you a name badge and a tote bag.  There will also be a special gift for everyone.  Sign-up sheets for table seating for the Saturday night Gala Banquet, along with photo appointments beginning Saturday afternoon with the photographer, will be available at the Registration Area.

HOSPITALITY & EXHIBITS AREA:  This is going to be a FUN room with many Aramcons and Vendors coming to show, share & sell some of their wonderful artistic treasurers.  Aetna, MetLife, Express Scripts, Vanguard, Reilly Financial Advisors, Merrill Lynch, Aramco ExPats and more will also be represented.  The Hospitality Room will be open from 8:00am-4:00pm Friday and Saturday.

SUNSET HIKING TRAIL:  This new trail was completed in June and is a little short of one mile.  Starting just below the courtyard outside the hotel entrance, the trail runs along the parking area and down to the Reed Creek area which leads to the Sports Complex, or can be continued uphill along the creek and across historic stone bridges to a lower and upper loop above the road through a peaceful wooded area.  The trail is well marked with signage and directions are available.

OMNI GROVE PARK INN WALKING TOUR:  Tours begin at the Concierge Desk located in the Main Lobby at 10:00am.  A Guide will take you on a very interesting historical walking tour of the Inn.  This tour is free, and is offered Wednesday through Saturday.  Groups are limited to 20; however, if larger groups would like to go together, they will accommodate us.

SPA SERVICES:  Very popular with GPI guests, the Spa measures more than 40,000 sq. ft., but that number only begins to describe the drama of this world-class retreat.  Indoor waterfalls, majestic stone architecture and a European-style pool area set the scene for an array of treatments that range from the familiar (massage and facials) to the exotic (aura imaging).  Not your average day spa, this is a destination to savor, a relaxing enclave of luxury.  Appointments should be made in advance by calling 828-252-2711 ext. 7727.  Be sure to tell them you are with the Saudi Aramco Annuitants Reunion group.

YOGA:  Yoga and mindfulness are interrelated traditions that focus on the holistic wellness of the entire person.  While many think of yoga as postures and breathing techniques, the full practice of yoga provides us with an accessible method of bringing the whole human—body, breath, and mind—into a balanced and healthy state.  These practices work to systematically bring a greater amount of present-moment awareness to all areas of life.  Begin your day with a gentle yoga practice – you’ll be glad you did!  Please indicate your interest on either your Registration Form or the Activity Sheet.  You may pre-pay or pay at the beginning of class.
Instructor:  Teal Chimblo Fyrber

GOLF & GOLF TOURNAMENT:  The golf staff is looking forward to hosting our event this September. The course was designed by the legendary Donald Ross in 1926. From their championship tees, the 6,400-yard, par-70 course is contoured out of the rolling landscape with tree-lined fairways, challenging bunkers and receptive bent greens. Its elevated tee boxes mean you get amazing views with each drive. Those arriving a day or two early are welcome to play golf at a reduced rate.

The course is considered one of the top courses in North Carolina and the golf club was included in Golfweek’s 2014 Best: State by State Courses You Can Play (NC). It is also among the top ten courses 100 years or older according to Golf Digest, though it certainly does not show its age. Masterfully restored in 2001, it reflects the glory and spirit of Donald Ross’ original design.

The Golf Pro Shop has a full line of golf apparel, gear and accessories, from divot tools to umbrellas and golf towels, apparel by Adidas, Greg Norman, Fairway and Greene, Peter Millar and Taylormade. They can custom build a welcome gift package for each player to meet your every need. They are proud partners with Taylormade golf and offer the latest models of Jetspeed and SLDR woods and Speedblade irons as rental sets for their patrons. The staff looks forward to working with our golfers and making this a special and successful event.

TOURS:  As advertised in previous articles, the tours are — Saturday: Trolley tours of Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway Tour.  Sunday:  Two tours going to the Biltmore House.  Thank you to those who have sent in their money for the tours.  Those who are still interested in the tours, please send your money in as soon as possible.

BRIDGE & TENNIS:  It’s nice to see so many of you signing up for these two activities. Refer to the Directory that will be in your welcome bag upon arrival to learn the details of these events.

MOVIE “ARABIA”:  Hugh Renfro, an Aramco retiree, whom many of you met at the reunion in Tucson, is going to show the DVD version of the IMAX documentary “Arabia”. Hugh worked with the McGillivray Freeman Films for four years making the film and is one of the Executive Producers. Check the schedule in your packet to find the location and times.

VIDEO PROJECT:  Joe Allen is a former Aramcon and is working on video projects for the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research and Studies in conjunction with the University of Central Florida in Orlando.  The Program was established in 2012 and seeks to advance public awareness and knowledge about the USA-Saudi Arabia relationship. He has begun a project to videotape interviews with former Aramco employees, getting their perspective on the relationship, their experience in the Kingdom and of course, sharing their stories about their time in the Kingdom.  The end project will be a series of videos that will be used by the PMBF Program showing these wonderful memories and sharing them with others.  He would like to videotape short anecdotes and stories during the weekend.  Be thinking about an interesting story you would like to share with him.  For more information about the PMBF Program, take a look at the following link:

As requested, here is the recommended Dress Attire for Evening Dinners:

Friday night:  Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Buffet—Business casual.  (Ladies may wear their Middle Eastern dresses if you would like)
Saturday Night:  ASC Gala Banquet—Formal or Semi-Formal.
Sunday Night:  North Carolina BBQ & Bluegrass. Casual, jeans are acceptable.

Directions from Asheville Airport to GPI: (approximately 18 miles, one way, 25 minutes)

  1. Directions from Asheville Airport to GPI: (approximately 18 miles, one way, 25 minutes)
  2. Cross the bridge and turn left onto I-26 West
  3. Take I-26 West to I-240 East
  4. Follow I-240 East to Exit 5B, Charlotte Street
  5. Turn left at the top of the Exit
  6. Go .7 miles on Charlotte Street
  7. Turn right onto Macon Avenue, travel approximately .8 miles
    The Omni Grove Park Inn is on the left.

Note:  To address a question several have asked regarding whether or not they can attend the reunion if they are not an Aramco “retiree”, the answer is yes. Traditionally, anyone who has worked for the company (and their spouse, and family members) may attend the reunion. Attendance has not been restricted to “retirees.”  As Aramcons, we all look forward to reuniting with friends and co-workers we met while living and working in Saudi Arabia.

“Hafla” is an Arabic word meaning a party or social gathering – the reunion of family and friends.  The Reunion Committee, Hosts, Co-Hosts, Committee Chairmen and Volunteers are all looking forward to seeing everyone soon! Safe Travels!

To access the Omni Grove Park Inn’s landing page for your Room Reservations: Grove Park Inn Reservations

For questions regarding the reunion, contact the Jim and Linda Shearon at or the Judy and Mike Butler at

Website Modifications

16 July 2014 | comments (13) | Special Interest | by

Dear Friends:

Aramco ExPats

Aramco ExPats will implement short-term modifications to the services we offer Saudi Aramco. Those changes are the result of procedural issues related to a new contract currently being finalized between our two sides. Technically, until that contract has been completed and signed, we are constrained from providing Saudi Aramco with many of the services they and our readers have long enjoyed.

For the past half year, we have continued our full support at our own expense and without compensation. There is nothing more we can do. We must wait for the contract department to complete their work. They promise that it will be soon.

We have received strong assurances from management that a contract has been approved. Based on a recent directive from the PRD contract advisor in Dhahran, however, we cannot continue to provide services absent a signed contract.

In the interim, we will continue to offer readers access to information on topics of mutual interest. We invite readers to submit material of their own for publication on our website. Suggestions are welcome for other ways we can meet your needs.

We will continue to provide our weekly newsletter and return to our normal level of service as quickly as possible.


Vicci and the Aramco ExPats Team

29th Saudi Aramco Annuitant’s Reunion

2 July 2014 | comments (0) | Annuitants | by

29th Saudi Aramco Annuitant’s Reunion
September 5-8, 2014

Who is coming to the reunion? Click here

The Omni Grove Park Inn's Amazing Subterranean Spa
The Omni Grove Park Inn’s Amazing Subterranean Spa

The 29th Saudi Aramco Annuitants Reunion is fast approaching!  There are a few areas that need to be highlighted at this time, the first one being room reservations.  If you are planning to stay at the Grove Park Inn, you are encouraged to make your reservations now!  A few weeks ago we ran out of rooms as per our contract and the GPI graciously added more rooms at the same rate.  All of those rooms are now reserved, and 25 more rooms have been requested.  Not knowing how long the GPI will continue to release their room inventory to us, it is strongly recommended that room reservations be made ASAP.

To access the landing page for Grove Park Inn room reservations, click here

To access the special room reservation form for those living overseas, click here

The SPA: The Omni Grove Park Inn Spa is rated in the “Top 20 Resort Spas in the U.S.” by Condé Nast Traveler. Their Spa services are very popular and they strongly recommend making your appointments when you make your room reservation. Appointments should be made well in advance.  Reunion attendees will be given a special rate, so be sure to mention the Saudi Aramco Annuitants Reunion when making your spa reservation. Special times have been set aside for our group for the dates of Sept. 3, 4, 5, & 6. To make your appointment, call: 828-252-2711, ext. 2772.  Toll free: 877-772-0747.

Golf Tournament: Golfers, indicate on the Activities Sign-Up form that you want to play golf on Saturday morning.  Mail the form, plus your $85, as soon as possible.  This will help the tournament chairmen as they plan for this fun event.

Yoga: Yoga is a wonderful way to help you keep fit, relieve stress, and ease your everyday experiences. It is one of the best ways to cultivate a connection between your mind and body.  Practicing yoga tones muscles, increases flexibility, calms the mind and can improve overall health. Teal Chimblo  Fyrberg (daughter of Rick & Rianne Chimblo and also an Aramco Brat) has been teaching yoga for 15 years. She is offering two classes on Saturday and Sunday of the reunion. Use the Activity Sign-Up form to indicate which class or classes you would like to attend … bring your own mat, if possible; however, mats will be available.

Tours:  Again, it’s important to make your tour reservations SOON .  To recap the tours:

Tour Options Infomation on Each Tour
Option 1: Trolley Tour of Asheville

  • Asheville’s colorful history
  • Art Deco architecture
  • River Arts District
  • Biltmore Village & much more
Cost: $20 per personDate: Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014EstimatedTime: 90 minutes

Two tour times: 9:00-10:30 & 11:30-1:00

Option 2: This tour package includes

  • Gray Line Historic Asheville Trolley Tour
  • Admission to the Biltmore Estate & Gardens
  • Audio tour of Biltmore House
  • Lunch at the Deerpark Restaurant
  • Visit to the Biltmore Antler Hill Village & Winery
Cost: $130 per personDate: Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014Estimated time: 7 hours

Tour time: 8:00-3:00pm (approximate)

The tour begins and ends at the Grove Park Inn and is limited to 35 people. Availability will be on a first come, first served basis.

Option 3: This tour package includes

  • Admission to the Biltmore Estate and Gardens
  • Audio tour of Biltmore House
  • Lunch at the Deerpark Restaurant
  • Visit to the Biltmore Antler Hill Village & Winery
Cost: $130 per personDate: Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014Estimated time: 6.5 hours

Tour time: 9:30-4:00pm (approximate)

The tour begins and ends at the Grove Park Inn and is limited to 25 people. Availability will be on a first come, first served basis.

Option 3: Best of the Parkway Tour

  • Historical tour of Asheville
  • Travel the Blue Ridge Parkway to Visitor’s Center
  • Visit the Folk Art Center
  • Breath-taking views from the Pisgah Inn
  • Picnic lunch at Cradle of Forestry
  • Looking Glass Falls for more photo opportunities
Cost:  $99 per personDate: Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014Estimated time:  6 hoursTour time: 9:00am-3:00pm (approximate)

Reservation deadline:  Aug. 13, 2014


Tennis: If you are staying at the GPI, the outdoor hard courts are FREE; the indoor courts are $20/court hour. Usually the courts are not busy on Friday and Sunday. At present, the pro is running a clinic from 9-10:30 at a cost of $10/person. The Sports Complex Manager will let us know the last week of August if they will still be running the clinic in Sept. The courts are located close to the front of the hotel. Use the Activities Sign-Up form to indicate your interest in playing tennis.

Exhibits: If you would like to display and/or sell your special hobbies, crafts, artwork, etc., please use the Activities Sign-Up form to secure a spot in the Sidelines Exhibit Room.

Bridge: As announced in the previous reunion article, bridge is back on!  We do need someone who will chair this activity, so if you are willing, please let either Linda Shearon or Judy Butler know.

NEW! Those of you who attended the 2012 Reunion in Tucson, AZ will remember Hugh Renfro, an Aramco retiree. He has requested to come to our reunion and show his IMAX documentary “Arabia”.  He gives lectures on Saudi Arabia all over the U.S. and Canada and loves to share his knowledge of Aramco history. We are excited that he is coming!  Several showings of “Arabia” will be scheduled throughout the weekend.

To access the Reunion Registration formclick here

To access the Activities Sign-Up form, click here

To access the Tours Sign-Up form, click here

Below are the volunteer chairpersons for the various functions of the reunion. If you would like to offer your assistance in any of the areas, please contact them.

Registration: John & Violeta Powell Violeta:
Banquet Seating: Judy Walker
Hospitality & Exhibits: Kristin Hudson
Golf Tournament: Mike & Judy Butler
Hal Barham
Tours: Charlie & Tricia Franck
Tennis: Judy Butler
Bridge: Looking for coordinator email address
Yoga: Teal Chimblo Fyrberg
Simulated Sports: Jim Maher
Protestant Service: Neil Horton
Dan Walters
Catholic Service: Don Elliott
Jim Fleming















For questions regarding the reunion, contact the Shearons at or the Butlers at

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