Accessibility, safety and ease of movement around Saudi Aramco’s events have always been a strong focus for the company.
Nowhere is this more evident than with Sultan Al-Rashid, a 34-year-old paraplegic, who is one of the most prominent volunteers at the al-Hasa iThra Knowledge Program being held at the King Abdullah Environmental Park until April 18.
Al-Rashid spends his time at the program’s children’s playground and is tasked with maintaining order and entertaining children at the busy attraction — not an easy task, given that attendance at the festival in al-Hasa has already topped 350,000.
The cheerful volunteer said he offered his services to meet visitors and prove to the world that he can work alongside the dozens of other volunteers at al-Hasa.
“I am worthy of the place the organizing committee has chosen for me, and I am full of confidence that I will do my job as best could be,” said Al-Rashid.
“I never hesitated to go on this fun adventure,” he explained as children tugged at his arm. “As for me, I have always relied on hard work and hope. Every day I receive encouragement from the passersby, and every day I prove to them that volunteer work is not only for abled people, but for everyone.
“When disability becomes a challenge, making the impossible possible becomes inevitable.”
Saudi Aramco reaffirmed its commitment to corporate social responsibility last week when it hosted the 2nd Corporate Social Responsibility Forum at the Plaza Center in Dhahran.
More than 250 participants attended the two-day event, including social responsibility experts from international companies, organizations and universities from within and outside the Kingdom.
The forum sought to create an environment in which professionals and academics involved in social responsibility could come together, share ideas and strategies, and forge partnerships.
During the event, the participants discussed a number of working papers submitted by various advisory bodies and local and international academics. Attendees also got the chance to discuss challenges facing social responsibility projects within the Kingdom and how they can be met.
During his opening speech, Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani, then vice president of Saudi Aramco Affairs, drew attention to the important role played by private sector companies in social responsibility. He told listeners that social responsibility programs are a national duty and not a burden on institutions or companies that carry them out.
He went on to say that the goal of the forum was to provide a platform to create an environment “from which to forge partnerships between private entities and charitable and governmental organizations for community service.”
“Saudi Aramco is proud that the concept of social responsibility is not a new phenomenon in the realm of our business,” he said. “It is deeply embedded within the values of the company and is reflected in the value of citizenship. We are keen to be an active partner in any serious effort for development.”
He told participants that since its inception, Saudi Aramco, in addition to its core business in the oil industry, has implemented corporate and social responsibility programs to help meet the Kingdom’s aspirations. These are spread across the four themes of knowledge, economy, community and environment.
During the forum, a planned partnership was announced between Saudi Aramco and the University of Dammam to develop the community’s capacity to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
Saudi Aramco already has joint initiatives with the university, including the company’s sponsorship of a Traffic Safety Chair at the university.
In this regard, Dr. Najah Qaraawi, dean of Community Services and Sustainable Development at the University of Dammam, gave a presentation on an initiative named Defa’ (Defense), which will be launched by the university to engage members of the community and encourage them to be trained in emergency response. This will enable them to step forward and respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
The initiative, with Saudi Aramco as a strategic partner, will be launched under the patronage of the Eastern Province Governate.
iThra Knowledge, Saudi Aramco’s popular outreach program passed the 1 million visitor mark earlier this week.
The popular program is designed and produced by Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and is the third such event in five months: highly successful runs in Dhahran and Jiddah attracted nearly a million visitors, and an additional 400,000 visitors are expected at al-Hasa.
Many of the visitors are returning. The program’s way of introducing information in an exciting and entertaining way is said to be one of the main reasons for coming back. Visitors also express they are happy and comfortable with the services offered by the program, such as the rest area, restaurants and cafes that cater to everyone’s needs.
Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco, recently visited Beijing to attend the China Development Forum (CDF) 2014 and to meet key stakeholders.
Over the course of his three-day visit, Al-Falih reiterated several times the strategic importance of the Chinese market. According to Al-Falih, China, the world’s largest emerging economy and already the largest exporter, will be a key focus for Saudi Aramco in the decades to come. And Saudi Aramco, as China’s reliable oil supplier, “remains strongly committed to China’s energy security and the associated oil-related investments,” Al-Falih said.
Among key stakeholders were the business partners China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Chinese media and Aramco Asia employees in the Beijing office. Al-Falih was accompanied by Ahmed A. Al-Subaey, executive director of Marketing, Supply and Joint Venture Coordination.
At the CDF, Al-Falih addressed an audience of China’s policymakers and economists as well as executives from the top 500 international enterprises. In his speech he offered Saudi Aramco’s strong support to Premier Li Keqiang’s recent declaration of war on pollution, which the Chinese Premier called “nature’s red light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development”.
Al-Falih commented on China’s energy demand growth since 1970 and noted that China has achieved a phenomenal improvement in energy intensity over the years. Compared with 1970, Al-Falih said “China’s economy is 40 times larger today in real terms, while it consumes only 12 times as much energy as in 1970.”
The current picture, however, is not as positive in terms of the energy supply mix, Al-Falih noted.
“My friends, to turn nature’s red light to green, I believe there are three transformative paths that must be triangulated as China develops truly effective and sustainable low carbon development policies,” Al-Falih said as he went on to outline these paths.
First, China’s economy will need careful rebalancing toward greater emphasis on services and more advanced, less energy intensive industries. Achieving higher energy efficiency will be a key opportunity. Critical to this is the deregulation of the energy market and energy pricing, as market signals are the most effective means of attracting investment and encouraging consumers to be judicious in energy use.
Second, the energy mix of stationary applications will need suitable rebalancing, with a larger role for gas beyond the current six percent in China, which is about a quarter of the global average, and a determined switch to clean coal must be one of China’s highest priorities.
Third, given China’s expanding mobility needs, a steady and healthy rise in transportation energy is likely, and oil will continue to dominate the transportation sector because of multiple hurdles facing electric and fuel-cell alternatives. This means China’s oil demand growth is expected to remain fairly strong. This only reinforces the value to China of being able to access reliable supplies of oil from major producers such as Saudi Aramco.
“I firmly believe that sustainable economic development and low carbon development are not mutually exclusive,” Al-Falih said. “At Saudi Aramco, we are committed to supporting China’s efforts with both, and by doing so, help turn nature’s red light to green.”
Importantly, this year’s CDF, which featured the theme “China: To Comprehensively Deepen Reform,” provided an occasion for meeting and sharing views with key government officials at a crucial time in light of China’s ongoing comprehensive reform, especially in the energy sector. This included a meeting between Al-Falih and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, along with a group of corporate executives. In addition, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and many ministers of China’s State Council spoke at the opening ceremony, highlighting China’s plans for comprehensive reform.
The many other sessions held during the forum also provided an excellent opportunity to gather valuable insight into the direction and priorities of China’s development from a diverse range of perspectives, which will help guide Saudi Aramco’s own development plans for China.
During his stay in Beijing, Al-Falih also had business meetings with Chinese business partners to further enhance the partnerships. In his meeting with Fu Chengyu, chairman of Sinopec Group, the two recounted the two companies’ cooperation both in the Kingdom and in China. Al-Falih and Fu Chengyu also explored areas where the two companies can further expand their cooperation. Al-Falih also had a business meeting with CNPC chairman Zhou Jiping, during which the two exchanged views on further expanding the two companies’ cooperation.
Al-Falih gave an interview to China Business News, one of China’s leading business media outlets. During the interview, Al-Falih further elaborated on Saudi Aramco’s commitment as China’s most reliable oil supplier. He said he believes that the ongoing free trade agreement talks between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council will bring the energy trade between China and Saudi Arabia to a new height. In addition to Saudi Aramco’s commitment as China’s most reliable oil supplier, the company is also looking forward to more oil-related investments in China, said Al-Falih.
Saudi Aramco and Dhahran Techno Valley (DTV) recently signed an agreement that will provide land to Saudi Aramco for building the headquarters of the Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center, or Wa’ed, one of the most important initiatives for nurturing entrepreneurship in the Kingdom.
The agreement was signed at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran in the presence of HE Dr. Khalid Al-Sultan, director of KFUPM and chairman of the DTV Board, and Abdallah I. Al Saadan, senior vice president of Saudi Aramco Finance, Strategy and Development. Also in attendance was Hany K. Abu Khadra, executive director of Saudi Aramco‘s Community Services, and Dr. Halim H. Radwan, designated executive president of DTV.
“This will add a qualitative and integrated addition to existing research centers in DTV and interactions between those centers and KFUPM’s faculties and students,” Al-Sultan said.
He indicated that the agreement boosted the attractiveness of DTV as Saudi Aramco, the world’s leading energy enterprise, joins other international companies in establishing centers at DTV.
The establishment of the Wa’ed Center at DTV will support Wa’ed’s goals of transforming young people’s ideas for small enterprises into a successful investment reality through cooperation with research centers at DTV and the scientists of KFUPM, Al Saadan said.
“The center will work amid an integrated atmosphere of scientific and applied innovations that will lead to the emergence of enterprises in various high and economically feasible fields to contribute to the diversification of the national economy,” Al Saadan said, adding that the center will help create more qualitative and sustainable job opportunities with its activities and training for entrepreneurs and financial and nonfinancial support of feasible business ideas.
The agreement represents a major step in the strategic cooperation between Saudi Aramco and KFUPM, represented here by DTV, and will enhance the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve a knowledge-based society and economy.
The agreement is also considered a qualitative addition to the existing cooperation between KFUPM and Saudi Aramco in supporting entrepreneurship, which culminated last year with Saudi Aramco’s launching of an incubator for innovations and entrepreneurship at KFUPM.