A fire that started at 5.45 am on Sunday at the Radium residential compound in Al Khobar, Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, has been extinguished. The compound is a leased residential facility which houses expatriate employees of Saudi Aramco.
The Company regrets to report that the fire resulted in 10 fatalities and 83 injuries who are currently being treated in company and area hospitals.
Saudi Aramco Acting President & CEO Amin H. Nasser stated: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the fatalities and injuries which resulted from the fire. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased.” He added: “Our immediate priority is to provide full support to those affected by this tragic incident. Saudi Aramco is fully committed to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and their families.”
Saudi Arabian Civil Defense and Saudi Aramco rescue teams have completed clearing compound buildings and floors and evacuated all their occupants. Evacuated residents have been relocated to Company and other residential facilities.
The cause of the incident is unknown and a comprehensive investigation has been initiated by the concerned authorities to determine the cause of the fire.
Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center, through its work with FUELCOM, has made headway with several technologies that could alter the landscape of personal mobility.
FUELCOM, or the Fuel and Combustion for Advanced Engines program, is a 10-year collaborative research undertaking that launched in 2013 between Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center (R&DC) and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Clean Combusion Research Center (KAUST-CCRC).
Research in Fuels and Engines
The program researches hydrocarbon fuel combustion in engines, allowing scientists to develop oil derived fuels that are suitable for the next generation of high efficiency and low emission combustion engines.
One example of their work is the development a promising engine fuel concept that could enable diesel-like levels of efficiency, but with far lower pollutant emissions. This translates into fewer carbon emissions, and more miles per gallon.
This work will set a new course for the auto industry and influence the design of cars that we’ll drive in the future.
“This research pushes the boundaries of what we know about the combustion of oil-based fuels,” said Amer A. Amer of Saudi Aramco’s R&DC. “Saudi Aramco wants to be at the forefront of creating perfect fuels and perfect engines, in synergy.”
“For decades, automotive engine design has been conducted in a vacuum, simply striving for improvements to the combustion engine itself, without altering the fuel that goes inside,” said professor Mani Sarathy from KAUST-CCRC. “By understanding how fuels behave in engines, we have the chance to further improve the engine design. You can now begin to think about altering fuels such that they are better optimized for a particular engine or combustion system.”
Saudi Aramco’s FUELCOM initiative has produced a number of accomplishments in combustion science, including:
- The development of AramcoMech, a state-of-the-art chemical kinetic model capable of describing hydrocarbon fuel oxidation in a variety of combustion systems, in 2013. AramcoMech’s capabilities will soon include describing combustion emissions, including the formation of soot.
- The development of the Aramco KAUST Fuel Design Tool, which complements AramcoMech in that it can be used to develop surrogate fuels that match the physical and chemical properties of real fuels. The tool will soon be made openly available to benefit the broader combustion research community.
- The establishment of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute.
Mohammed A. Al Qahtani, a business systems analyst working for the Industrial Security Planning and Support Services Department in Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, who overcame significant speech difficulties as a child, became the first Saudi and first Aramcon to win the World Championship in Public Speaking in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the U.S. on Aug. 15.
He competed against 30,000 participants from about 100 countries after several elimination rounds that began six months ago. The championship is the highest level of speech competition in Toastmasters, and his victory in the contest is the first time an Arab has won this title in the 84 year existence of the organization.
Al Qahtani represented District 79, which comprises 243 clubs in all of Saudi Arabia, and he faced off against national champions representing various nations from around the world to be named the world champion of public speaking.
It was not an easy road for Al Qahtani to get to this point. As a child, he did not utter his first word until he was 6 years old. He also grew up with a speech impediment — stuttering — and was ridiculed for it by other children during his formative years.
“Your mouth can spit venom, or it can mend a broken soul,” Al Qahtani said.
In 2009, he joined Toastmasters and devoted himself seriously to the Toastmasters educational learn-by-doing communication and leadership program. He worked sincerely to overcome his speech impediment, and because of his determination and the support of those around him, he succeeded.
Acknowledging this, Al Qahtani said when receiving his award in Las Vegas: “Look where I am now. If this can happen to me, imagine what can happen to you.”
In managing water resources, countries such as Saudi Arabia find themselves walking a tightrope. Arid nations not only must secure quality water resources but also manage supply and demand of clean water for generations to come. Water conservation is therefore one of the Kingdom’s highest priorities.
At Saudi Aramco, we are committed to minimizing pressure on nonrenewable groundwater and maximizing its future availability. To minimize groundwater use, we optimize water consumption, minimize water losses, maximize wastewater reuse, and promote use of sustainable alternatives to groundwater.
We have a companywide water conservation program, with measures applied under the auspices of the Water Conservation Policy. Also as part of conservation efforts, our Environmental Protection Department requests each facility to develop a Water Conservation Roadmap to assist facilities in aligning their conservation efforts with the company’s broader water conservation strategy.
Our hard work is paying off: We treat and reuse about 75% of our generated sanitary wastewater. Elsewhere, flow meters have been installed in facilities companywide to monitor water cycles, further identifying conservation opportunities. We also actively monitor shallow groundwater levels at nearly 60 operating facilities Kingdomwide. Annual sampling and laboratory analysis helps track changes and potential risks to the water supply.
Individuals must play a role, too. Quickly repair leaks at home, install more environmentally-friendly plumbing, and avoid letting water run needlessly. Always fill the dishwasher and clothes washer completely to reduce water usage, and store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap to get cold water.
Actions such as these may seem like common sense, but they’ll benefit the Kingdom’s environment and economy in the long run if we act now in our daily lives.
There is a sense of wonder at the iRead camp enrichment forum, a place crowded with dedicated and enthusiastic readers.
The iRead program, a flagship program of the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, strives to promote reading through a competition where young people give presentations related to how particular books have changed their lives. The top 10 of the 36 participants at the iRead forum will go on to next month’s final.
Back for its third year with a distinctive leap on both the organizational and cultural levels, iRead has developed from being exclusively for Saudi participants to a wider remit to reach all those who love reading: citizens and residents alike. It is now recognized as a transformative initiative across the Saudi and Gulf region.
At the forum, it is not strange to stand with Abdullah Al-Muhssin and Ail Sulais to hear discussions on the merits of introducing intellectualism into poetry and vice versa. Which of the two is better? Might bringing poetry into intellectualism cause more harm than good? It is not unusual to find a young man such as Mishari Al-Hamoud staying up until dawn with Faiz Al-Shammari studying linguistics intricacies.
Experience and Transformation
Buthainah Al-Issa, founder of the Takween creative writing project, said: “The iRead competition is a pioneering competition on the international level, and I hope to see this copied in all the Arabian capitals.”
What makes iRead really special is the quality of the participants. Possessing a depth of experience that belies their young age, one finds participants from the intermediate school level with a stronger passion for reading and knowledge rather than games or entertainment.
Abulrahman Al-A’arook, 14, from Dammam, said his love of reading stirred in the third grade when his school announced a book lending competition by the library. When he came across a Harry Potter book that lit a passion in his heart, he ended up reading the whole series — seven volumes. He read more than 50 books in the summer vacation going into the fifth grade. When his father heard about the iRead competition and asked him to participate, he did so thinking he was the most important reader or the only one. When he arrived, he realized that he wasn’t alone.
And then there is Nada Al-Ghamdi, 18, in high school. While she was in kindergarten, before being able to read, she saw her older sister learning to read and delighting in her ability to spell words. Her father began buying her illustrated books to train her in reading, and as she grew, her family’s expectations grew with her. And she felt a responsibility. She was a living example of the Arabic saying: “You will become what your loved ones see you as.”
“I used to see life from a materialistic perspective before this forum, but with its programs that combined science, art, and literature, it made me find my balance between the tangible and the unseen,” she said.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Khatib, a professor of linguistics at King Abdulaziz University in Jiddah and former cultural attaché for Saudi Arabia in Paris who delivered a lecture, may have summed it up best. ”Meeting these young men and women was a source of hope. It was a beacon in the dark,” he said. “Their motivation is impressive, and they have an endless thirst for knowledge.”