Category Archive: Opinions & Editorials
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Where do the biggest Saudi graduation ceremony and most extensive Saudi job fair take place? The choices are: 1-Jeddah. 2- Riyadh. 3- Dammam. 4- National Harbor, Maryland. If your answer is number 4, then you guessed it right. But, who goes to this very small place called National Harbor and that covers only an area of less than one square mile? It is one of the smallest states in America in terms of area and one of the least known to the outside world. Many people heard of Maryland because of the Naval Academy, Camp David, professional sports teams and the former American vice president Spiro Agnew.
However, For the past 40 years, tens of thousands of Saudis visit or study in the US and whereas California and Florida is the Saudi top choice, the state of Maryland is usually not on their list. But a few years ago, things have changed; now this state is becoming one of the well-known destinations to Saudis. Across the Kingdom, you will find Saudi families who can’t wait for the day when their son or daughter says “I will be in Maryland during the month of May.”
It is the place where thousands of students both male and female, attend their Saudi graduation ceremony held by the Saudi Cultural Mission in the United States. Indeed, the Mission and its staff have turned the graduation ceremony into a very successful job fair. Work on the event started months earlier, and this year we are looking forward to a bigger and more extensive event.
This year, about 8,000 students will graduate from the best American schools across the country. The ceremony is also attended by thousands of family members to see their loved ones receive their various graduate and postgraduate degrees.
The annual graduation ceremony will be held for all students from all over the US, fine products of the most extensive scholarship program in the world that of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, high profile Saudi and American officials are always present such as the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Khalid Al-Angari, Saudi Ambassador, H.E. Adel A- Jubair, the Saudi cultural mission Attaché, Mohammed Al-Eisa and many others.
This year’s graduation ceremony will be held form May 24-27. It has become so huge, that it is turning into a regular Saudi annual social event. It will include a graduation parade for all the young men and women as well as a job fair that will be sponsored by about 70 different organizations; Including, various Saudi universities, financial institutes, and many other private companies and government departments. In fact, more companies that didn’t have the time to participate will send some of their people just to see the registration and hiring process. Many Saudi companies would like to attract the top graduates with the most needed majors for the Saudi job market, and the event is becoming an eye opener for them. Last week, a Saudi Company, “Saud Consult” who saw my article last year about the Scholarship Program, sent me brochures and leaflets about their company to be distributed to the graduates, if and when I am in the Washington area during that time. I sincerely hope I will, because it is a wonderful and proud time for our Saudi youth.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. A Job Fair for Saudis in the United States reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
For the past few months I have been hearing many people from all over the world talking about shale oil. We hear the talk about this kind of oil as if it is being discovered on a faraway planet and energy companies are racing to get to it first. We have heard about it from world leaders like American President Barack Obama and from Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi. So what is the story of this shale oil and its impact on the world oil market? Media reports in the US insist that America will be self-sufficient in the energy sector in near future. And some of the American analysts even went as far as saying that it will be done by the year 2020. That is seven years from now. So can the oil industry and its key players miraculously change in seven years? I am not an oil or energy expert, but I grew up in a town located in the middle of the largest oil field in the world, Al-Ghawar oil field. The oil field was discovered in 1948 and it is more than 180 miles long and 20 miles wide.
So when I was a young boy I saw the lights of the flaming torches lighting up the skies around my home during the nights. No oil expert in the past ever dared to compare this oil field production capacity with another field. So this is why many people say that seven years is very short time in seeing dramatic changes in the oil industry. Or is it a short time?
The oil industry in Saudi Arabia had changed not in seven years, but many say it changed in seven days. Apparently, there must be something unique about the number seven in the oil industry.
In 1938, Saudi oil was discovered in oil well No. 7 which the American geologists had to dig deeper to find oil. It was their last chance to continue their presence in Saudi Arabia. In other words, if they couldn’t find oil in well No. 7, then they would have to leave. But at the end of the day they found oil. And the first thing that was done after they found oil was sending a cable from Dhahran to Bahrain to be transmitted to the mother company in the US. The cable said: “We found (struck) oil in Saudi Arabia.” And if my memory serves me right, the receiver of the cable was geologist Floyd Oliger who was on his way back to the US and someone was calling him and shouting, “Mr. Oliger, Mr. Oliger, we struck oil in Saudi Arabia.”
So the question is what would have happened to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi oil industry and the world if the cable was seven months or even 7 days late? If oil was not discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938, then the map of the world political and strategic influence would have been very different.
Now, if oil discovery in one single Saudi well had changed the world map, then why can’t modern-day technologies change the course of the oil industry in seven years to extract the shale oil?
The WWII started in the same year Saudi oil was discovered and if the discovery was late, then the investment to find oil would have been stopped until after the war in 1945 and there would be no American company who was ready to invest any money to find oil in Saudi Arabia. So, after 75 years of seeing Saudi Arabia as the world’s major swing producer, the most influential country on the oil prices and a determining factor on the production quotas for each country, would things change in seven years from now in the year 2020?
As Saudis we need to know that the talks and the information about shale oil are not coming from bounty hunters. We now hear it from many energy analysts, top geologists and very well respected scientists. Nowadays, everyone is saying that State of Colorado is going to be the next Saudi Arabia seven years from now. So in the year 2020, the highway signs in Aspen, Colorado, will not read, ski area ahead, but, it will say oil well ahead. But the one billion-dollar question is if the shale oil real or is it a bubble?
With modern-day technology, we Saudis have to take the shale oil very seriously. We all know that Saudi oil will always have customers to buy it. The energy demand is always on the increase. There are many countries, which will be big consumers for a long time, such as China and India. Seven years from now we will know for sure the direction of the shale oil industry and its effects on the Saudi oil industry with two options. And, if the shale oil is a bubble, then we Saudis have nothing to worry about. But, if it is not a bubble and the shale oil is in abundance in the American states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming then, the world oil industry influence will be shifted and we will see Denver overtaking Dhahran, Salt Lake City overtaking Kuwait City and Cheyenne will overtake Kirkuk, Iraq.
I am sure Saudi Aramco and the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals have plans for the future and many accelerated programs to advance technology transfer and to find the best ways to utilize their assets to be ahead in the oil industry. But it is important to know that more steps must be taken into considerations. The government must review its energy subsidies and we must find ways to reduce the amount of energy consumption in the Kingdom. Saudi Aramco should be more aggressive in their search for the best ways to use their assets. And finally, I have another billion-dollar question. How long the Saudi proven oil reserve will last?
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Shale Oil Boom in US and its Impact on Kingdom reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Last Saturday, April 27, Al Fateh sports club was in the center of Saudi sports hall of fame. The football club from the city of Al Mubaraz won the Saudi Professional League which is also known as Zain Saudi League.
Zain telecom is the main sponsor. Saudi football league is the most popular and most watched in the Arab world. Winning the trophy is not easy for any Saudi football club. It needs good professional players, good coach, talented managers and constant flow of financial and moral support.
And, ironically, for the first time in Saudi sports history the women of the city of Al Mubaraz are the ones who were behind this achievement. So, what is the story of the city of Al Mubaraz and its football club? The city of Al Mubaraz is the twin city of Al Hofuf, located in Al Hassa in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Last week, the Saudi sports pages covered three surprising sports events, local, regional and international. The international one was about the May 25 Champions League final at London’s Wembley Stadium between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the first all-German team final after they both had beaten Spain’s best nominated clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The regional news is the election of Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa from Bahrain as the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). But, the most important news was seeing Al Fateh sports club win the Saudi League championship. Al Fateh won the trophy couple of weeks before the end of the championship. And the result of the final match with Al Ittifaq from Dammam on April 27 made no difference to them, but they won it 4-0.
I was at the match and saw people from every nationality at Prince Mohammed Bin Fahad stadium in Dammam. The American Consul General, Mr. Joey Hood, and his aids were present and were wearing the Al Fateh team colors.
But, what made this year’s Saudi League championship different? Couple of years ago, Al Fateh football club lost many games. And one of the managing directors was depressed. His mother was the one who encouraged him not to give up and gave him the financial support needed for running the club.
Ironically, she even advised him about many of the deals which involved the transfer of the best players to the club. Her name is Ms. Fawzyah Al Rashid who is one of the most active philanthropic activists in the Kingdom.
As time passed, people knew of more women from the families in Al Mubaraz city. In the official website, there are more women’s names who are honorary members of this club such as, Fathyah, Ayshah and Fatimah Al Rashid.
There are other ladies from other families who also were part of the general public relations through the social media means and through their direct support.
There are many families who simply made it possible for this club to be the talk of the town such Al Rashid, Al Afaliq, Al Mousa, Al Shuhail, Al Nafgan, Al Jaber, Al Maghlouth, Al Mogahwi, Al Suwaig, Al Saleem and many others.
In other words, many young men and women from the city of Al Mubaraz put their hands together and accomplished a dream for being the best in the Kingdom. Last year, this club was the most admired for its performance and for the information of the readers, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah told the club managers during a sports event last year that this club deserved to be the next champion. And one year later, it was real. The Al Fateh football club became the champion with a style.
Away from sports, the city of Al Mubaraz and its people are very well known for their services to the society.
Last year Al Jaber family built 243 homes and donated them to poor families. Al Afaliq and Al Mousa made many contributions to the society through building hospitals, hotels and private schools and many other projects that help bringing people together. So, the managers of Al Fateh club didn’t only win the championship, they simply brought people together and won many hearts.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Al Mubaraz Women and Al Fateh Football Club reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates. It covers an area of 32,000 square miles with a population of about eight million people, including the millions of expatriates who work and live there. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al-Quwain. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the bigger cities in the UAE. The country’s president is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and the vice president is Mohammed bin Rashed Al-Maktoum. All the sheikhs of the UAE are close to their people.
The UAE has recently been the focus of various news reports carried all over the world. One of these reports came from a popular American blog stating that the city of Dubai has achieved in 10 years what other cities couldn’t achieve in more than 100 years. Another report came from Human Rights Watch (HRW). Let us talk about the second report and its connection to luxury sports cars.
I don’t know anything about luxury cars. I don’t even know what a Lamborghini or a Ferrari looks like, let alone owning one. I might end up walking on the moon before having one of these most expensive vehicles. So, is there a way I could ride in one of these cars? The answer is yes, in the UAE.
All I have to do is drive my old car in the city of Dubai at 25 km an hour over the speed limit. And when I’m stopped by one of Dubai’s police officers, I will say I don’t have a driver’s license. This way, I will be taken to the police station in a new Dubai police car driven by a policewoman (yes, a policewoman), which happens to be either a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. The Chevrolet Camaro SS and BMW 5-Series are among the other cars driven by the Dubai police.
In addition to these luxury cars, police officers in the UAE are known for their kind and polite behavior regardless of the background of the offending individual. If you arrive hungry at the police station, then you’ll get a Pizza Hut meal paid for by the police department.
Now certain questions arise: If a low-ranked policewoman drives a Lamborghini, what does the number one policeman in Dubai, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan, drive? And will they perform the PIT maneuver, also known as the ramming technique, using a Lamborghini or a Ferrari when they’re in hot pursuit of suspected criminals?
And finally, what would someone say to HRW, located in the Empire State Building in New York City, about Dubai’s police brutality if he was riding in the back seat of a Lamborghini and had a Pizza Hut meal paid for by the police authority? Is this a fairy tale? The answer is no, this can happen in the United Arab Emirates. I’m sure many members of HRW have never been to the UAE.
I have the highest regard for HRW and value what it has done for the world since it was founded in 1978. This group was started as an American private foundation and was named the Helsinki Watch to monitor the Soviet Union to ensure compliance with the Helsinki Accord. As years passed, other Watch groups were established, such as America Watch, Asia Watch, Africa Watch and Middle East Watch. In this article I am not disputing the intention or even the importance of such organizations. But this organization covers many parts of the world with a yearly budget of about $ 60 million, a relatively small amount in the face of growing demand for human rights organizations. So why is it concentrating on countries such as the United Arab Emirates? The UAE is known for its respect of human rights, which is why millions are happy to be in the UAE.
The UAE is one of the richest countries in the world, with some of the planet’s happiest people. They enjoy free education, free health care, very high per capita income and don’t have income tax. The relations between the ruler and ruled is one of the most transparent in the world. The infrastructure in the UAE is one of the most modern in the world. Skyscrapers, state-of-the-art highways and most modern airports give a clear indication of the luxurious life of people in the UAE. The UAE is considered one of the hottest tourist attractions with two of the busiest airports in the world. Millions from the east and west live and work in this country. HRW should see the UAE as a melting pot of many cultures.
HRW issued a critical report of the UAE when tens of people wanted to disturb the peace and security of this prosperous country. The report was unfair to the country and its people. There is clearly a need to respect human rights but also to ensure both citizens and expatriates are protected.
People in other countries can only dream of the freedom and wealth enjoyed by the UAE’s populace. Founded in 1971, it soon became one of the most advanced countries in the world. It has every right to defend what it has built and accomplished. People who disturb the peace and threaten the lives of others should be watched and even locked up. Who can forget the chaos caused by two individuals in the city of Boston, who would’ve done even more damage if they had not been caught?
As for HRW, there are other countries in Africa and Asia that need more attention, where human rights abuses, human trafficking, torture and summary executions are the norm. Finally, no country is perfect, but the UAE is a country people shouldn’t worry about. Just a few days ago more than a hundred foreign prisoners were released. Ironically, many of them were sorry to leave the UAE.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. HRW and Dubai’s Lamborghinis reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
People remember 9/11 with fear. At 3 p.m. on April 15, 2013, events evoked memories of the horror 12 years ago. This time it was an attack at the finishing line of one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events in modern-day history.
It happened during a marathon in a city many people around the world don’t hear about quite often in media reports. Many people outside the US don’t know that this city was the most influential city in world politics and social events. This city shaped the geopolitical and international events that took place in last three centuries. Simply put, the city of Boston is the one that changed the history of the United States and consequently, it changed the history of the whole world.
Because of the city of Boston, the center of influence and political gravity had shifted for the first time in history to the newly discovered land. Boston saw the birth of the youngest and most powerful country in the world — the United States of America. It became the land of the free, the world’s melting pot and a land where anyone from any corner of the globe can settle in and become the president of the No. 1 superpower.
So the question is: Why America and Americans are the most attacked either inside or outside their soil and why these attacks are committed either by foreign terrorists, like the ones in the 9/11 attack or an attack committed by an average American Joe, like the Oklahoma bombing convict in 1995? The answer is not easy and terrorist attacks are not easy to be predicted or stopped. A bad guy or a terrorist doesn’t have little horns on his head with a red painted face. Just look at the photos of the American young man who masterminded the Oklahoma bombing, Timothy McVeigh, or the Boston marathon bomber, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarneav. Both these faces look innocent.
I have been to Boston many times during my college years in the 1970s and was a spectator in one of these marathons. It is one of the most interesting sports events. You see the world’s unity at its best. The city of Boston and its people wielded significant influence on the world’s democracy, right to representation and human rights. Boston was the place where many events took place that changed the course of American and world history.
The American Revolution was shaped by what happened in Boston with events such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston. In another word, the history of the United States is the history of the city of Boston. So, what would a coward terrorist do to an American city like Boston? Simply put, he will make the United States more united. The American power will be more powerful and the Americans will unleash their military firepower on the enemy. And of course, let us not forget the American media power.
Immediately after the attack and later on after the world came to know about who did it, I had many questions going through my mind. Why do many people around the world always talk about a conspiracy theory after each terrorist attack on America and what makes them think American intelligence agencies like the FBI mastermind a terrorist attack on its soil and frame someone? Everybody knows America can’t keep a secret.
I wonder why did these two young men, who came from a war-torn region in Chechnya and given asylum, good education and American welfare money, attack the country that hosted them and stood by them during their struggle against the Russian forces in the 1990s? The two terrorist attackers — Tamerlan and Dzhkhar Tsarnaev had a chance to be world stars. One of them could have been a member of one of the American Olympic boxing teams. So, the question is what did they really want? If they didn’t like their host country, then why didn’t they both leave and live with their parents back home. Terrorists have no excuse what so ever. This is why different countries and people should put their hands together to fight it. And this brings me to a very important point with regard to the media handling of the many news reports and analyses.
People in Saudi Arabia and Saudis in the United Sates were hurt by some of these media reports about Saudis who had nothing to do with this horrible attack. And as a humble human being, I would like to express my deepest sympathy for the families of the dead and injured in the terrorist bombings that took place in the peaceful city of Boston. And no matter how sympathetic we feel for the families of the victims, we will never be able to realize their pain and agony.
Two of the injured were innocent Saudi spectators, who among the hundreds of thousands of people, simply wanted to enjoy the event. One of the injured was a Saudi young lady who as far as I know is a dentist doing her advanced studies in the US on the Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program. And this young lady whose name is Nourah Al-Ajaji almost had one of her feet amputated. The other victim was a young man whose name is Abdulrahman Al-Harbi, also studying in the US and he wasn’t only hurt physically, but was also under the tremendous media spotlight when he was a suspect and was accused wrongly. To this day, I ask myself if someone named Erik Rush ever heard of the words, “innocent until proven guilty.”
In times like this, people around the world must put their hands together to fight terrorism because seeing the media spread hate and racism does not help bring people from different faiths and colors together. The world can fight terrorism if more love is spread not hate. As for the terrorist, you failed and will continue to fail.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Boston: A City that Changed the World reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.