Only four hours lafter an invitation was sent, 2,800 employees had applied to volunteer at iThra Knowledge, Saudi Aramco’s wildly popular outreach program.
The program — designed and produced by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture — will offer young male and female volunteers the opportunity to acquire knowledge and responsibility, as well as work, administrative and soft skills, in a safe and structured environment.
With more than half a million visitors expected at the program’s first-ever indoor show in the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, volunteers will have to be well prepared.
Five-hundred volunteers — about 300 males and 200 females — will be selected from more than 3,000 final submissions, with teams of four interviewers completing the whittling down process through personal interviews.
“We received a very good and high quality of volunteers for Riyadh,” said Anas Al Juraifani. “We are inspired by so many passionate people who want to give to society.”
“I think because the program has already been to Jiddah and al-Hasa this year, a lot of people know about it, and they are excited,” he said. “A lot of people come because Saudi Aramco is well-known for handling mega-projects and its well-organized events. And for a good number of people, this is the first time to volunteer. Many said they heard about it through social media.”
Interviewers look at educational background, skill sets such as public speaking or scientific knowledge, as well as experience and passion.
“We have had lots of very good applicants: students, professionals, experts in many professions,” said Al Juraifani, who noted many people devote their evenings to the four-week-long program after working full days at their regular jobs.
By carefully screening and matching volunteers, program organizers can ensure volunteers are on the right track and don’t lose interest. “We want to develop them and make sure they do work that suits them,” said Al Juraifani. “And we want to learn from them; it’s a knowledge transfer.”
As with the previous two events in 2014, the stringent selection process has paid off in terms of retention, ensuring most volunteers commit to their minimum five day-a-week requirement — and bring 80,000 vital volunteer hours to the Riyadh event team.
Volunteers provide more than 50 percent of operational capacity.
The volunteer experience is open to Saudi Aramco employees, their dependents and members of the public who are 18 years or older.
A Volunteer Training Program offers three days of training, including safety and health education, followed by a medical checkup, on-the-job training — including crisis planning — and simulation exercises designed to encourage innovation in dealing with challenges.
Is Ramadan a month when people eat lavishly, become soap opera addicts, and shop and stay up late till the wee hours of the night? Or is this impression in stark contrast with the spirit of Ramadan?
Omayyad Mosque in Damascus.
The Qur’an ordained the fast of Ramadan in 624 C.E. Muslim men and women also celebrate Ramadan because it was on one of the last nights of this month, “The Night of Power,” when the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Qur’an in 610 C.E. It is a month in which they attempt to breathe the air of piety and tranquility: they are constantly engaged in worship, individually and congregationally, in recitation of the Qur’an from cover to cover, and in charitable deeds.
The spiritual aspect of the month is further highlighted by the night-time congregational prayers, tarawih. The almsgiving reflects the community’s sharing of their God-given bounty with those who are less fortunate.
It is truly a time when a Muslim’s life is suffused with peace, contemplation, self-abnegation and giving.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is compulsory for every adult Muslim male and female who is mentally and physically fit and is not on a journey. Those unable to fast during Ramadan for excusable reasons, such as temporary illness, travel, pregnancy or nursing children, are obligated to do so later in the year. Those permanently unable to fast, due to health reasons or old age, are required to pay alms to make up the days they miss. Out of respect, Muslims who are exempted from fasting for such reasons refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in front of those who fast.
During Ramadan, hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world rise to its moral and physical challenges by abstaining not only from eating, drinking, smoking and other carnal pleasures, but also from getting angry, swearing and gossiping. The fasting period starts just before daybreak and ends at sunset.
The discipline imposed by Ramadan can serve to break unhealthy habits. Fasting motivates smokers to quit, and coffee addicts, like myself, realize that they can live without coffee. Those who have an unbreakable tie with anything that has a sprinkle of sugar on it will wait patiently until they can enjoy luqaymat, sweet dumplings, or other sugary delicacies, that are popular in Ramadan.
Nevertheless, Ramadan has the character of a festival: a substantial meal, Iftar, “breakfast,” served at sunset to mark the end of the day-long fast. It is common to see a family immersed in preparing the iftar meal with the aromatic wafts of delicious fare and the sounds of clattering cutlery. Muslims appreciate the feeling of togetherness at the iftar, which is shared by families and friends. Mosque courtyards are another place where the young and old, rich and poor, gather to break their fast.
Madina Haram at sunset.
Iftar is not intended to shock the stomach with abundant amounts of food. Instead, when the sunset call to prayer is heard, many break their fast with a few sips of water, often Zamzam water from the sacred well in the Grand Mosque at Makkah. For many families, dates are indispensable at the time of breaking the fast as they were eaten at the same time in the days of the Prophet Muhammad. The dates and water are followed by the main meal, a tempting array of Ramadan specialties. Another meal, suhur, is taken before the start of one’s fast just before dawn breaks. The Prophet has recommended partaking of this meal.
Youngsters, especially girls and boys in the Gulf countries, count the days until the 15th night of Ramadan for a folk event called Qarqa‘an. They roam the streets wearing traditional costumes, singing lyrics celebrating this month and knocking on doors hoping to fill their bags with sweets or nuts.
‘Id al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast, marks the end of the holy month. With a final act of charity, Muslims pay the mandated Zakat al-Fitr to the needy to enable them to join in the ‘Id festivities. On the first day of ‘Id, families go for a celebratory prayer to the mosque wearing new clothes. Later, they visit relatives and friends, and they enjoy amusement parks where the children are the monarchs of all the rides and games.
Printed with permission by Rahmah I. Nawwab.
Originally published on Aramco ExPats in 2009
Following launch of the iExcel Gifted program, Imam Saud Al-Kabeer Secondary School in Dana receives visit from Saudi Aramco’s president and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih.
Al-Falih was joined by Mohammed Y. Al-Qahtani, acting senior vice president for Operations and Business Services, and Jamil F. Dandany, director of the Educational Partnerships Department. Al-Falih commended the participating students and shared his vision of a future led by the capable hands of the youth, praising their high academic caliber and their ability to process information quickly.
Designed by Training and Development in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), the program’s main goal is to engage students during free time with work that widens their horizons and provides them with academic and life skills.
The “Society Time” class offered in English combines all of these goals by allowing students to apply the information gained from their physics class in ways that benefit society.
Al-Falih visited other classes offered by the iExcel Gifted program, starting with an electrical engineering class where students demonstrated their knowledge in wiring electrical circuits and how these skills can be applied across different fields. Students at the “Principles of Engineering” class also showcased their talents in assembling prototypes for their final project and were especially proud of the greenhouses they built that are designed to preserve energy and maximize value.
Al-Falih engaged the students in a conversation about the effectiveness of the program and was pleased to hear of their satisfaction with the initiative. The students have long felt the need for a way to implement what they learn in theory practically and were extremely happy to get the chance to sharpen their knowledge in science-based subjects through creative projects and sophisticated discourse.
“I am proud of the students who will lead the Kingdom to a bright future through their contributions to companies, plants and government,” Al-Falih said. “Saudi Aramco sponsors the development of young talent across the Kingdom through its various initiatives such as iThra Youth and iDiscover to aid them in innovating and excelling through their achievements.”
Aramco Overseas Company B.V. (“AOC”) has agreed in principle to acquire the Hanjin Group’s (the “Group”) entire stake in S-OIL Corporation (“S-OIL”) comprising approximately 32 million shares representing 28.4% of the issued and outstanding common shares of S-OIL, for a total amount of ₩ 1,982,982,332,000 (or approximately US $1.95 billion at current exchange rate). This share purchase will increase AOC’s ownership interest in S-OIL from 34.99% to 63.4%. The transaction is contingent on the execution of formal transaction agreements and regulatory approvals
In commenting on the transaction, AOC’s Managing Director Fahad AbdulKareem emphasized AOC’s unwavering commitment to maintaining the sound financial performance of S-OIL and to enhancing the value of the business and its competitive market position.
“This transaction underscores Saudi Aramco’s confidence in the Korean economy and its strategy to enhance its presence in the growing Asian markets and AOC’s commitment to S-OIL growth.” said Khalid A. Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco President and Chief Executive Officer, while expressing his gratitude to Hanjin Group “for a mutually rewarding partnership with Aramco Overseas Company in S-Oil over the past 7 years,” and communicating Saudi Aramco’s wishes for the Group’s future success.
Aramco Overseas Company B.V. (AOC) is a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco). It provides support services to Saudi Aramco and through its investments and joint ventures forms an integral part of the global Saudi Aramco oil, gas and chemicals enterprise. It has been a major shareholder of S-OIL since 1991.
Saudi Aramco is a fully integrated, global energy and chemicals enterprise and a world leader in exploration and production, refining and distribution, and the world’s top exporter of crude oil and natural gas liquids.
Following recent openings in Riyadh and al-Jouf, Saudi Aramco launches its Cultural and Sports summer program “iCompete” in the Eastern Province.
The program has been well received by the Kingdom’s youth as witnessed by huge turnouts the past two years as one of Saudi Aramco’s most important initiatives in the area of sports. The iCompete program targets students between the ages of 7 and 14 in an effort to develop and improve their soccer, volleyball, table tennis, swimming and tae kwon do skills.
This summer, thousands will participate in the program representing Ettifaq, Qadisiyah, Nahdha, Khaleej, Fateh, Jubail and Batin from the Eastern Province, as well as Al-Shola from Kharj, Al-Faisaly from al-Majma’ah, and Al-Oroba from al-Jouf. The program will continue until the end of August.
Saudi Aramco is seeking to provide a variety of sports programs that combine education with entertainment in a sports style that attracts young people and stimulates the spirit of fair challenge and competition during the summer vacation.
Speaking on the launch of the program, Nasser A. Al-Nafisee, acting executive director of Corporate Affairs, said the program strives to promote the values of competition in a healthy and safe environment, as well as creativity and responsibility among young people. He added the program would support young talents in all sports and cultural areas.
iCompete offers a variety of high-quality sports and educational activities and events, which are expected to have a positive impact on the participants and their future lives, Al-Nafisee added.In addition, the program features a number of activities with the designed purpose of heightening participants’ awareness about environmental preservation, fire protection, promotion of safety values at work and at home, as well as their adoption of healthy habits (i.e., fire prevention, safety and health care) and habits that limit energy consumption. The iCompete program focuses on the self-development of its participants and their further growth in competencies, personal characteristics and skills to establish a culture of responsibility and discipline.