Don’t Take Terrorists’ Bait

18 November 2015 | 3 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

It is true that it will take Europe particularly France, a little time to recover and pick up the pieces after the cowardly terrorist attacks that took place last week.

And it is also true that there will be some changes in the European behavior and daily life. It will take time for many families to recover from the loss of their loved ones. Such incidents have usually a huge impact on children.

But the Europe and specially France should know that the last terrorist act was just a prelude to a bigger threat to create a long and lasting headache not only for the Europe but also for the whole world. In other words, it was bait and a well-planned trap. Their goal is to create chaos. So, I say to Europe, don’t take the terrorists’ bait and don’t fall for their trap. We Saudis have seen this bait more than once in the past but refused to fall for it.

In Saudi Arabia, Daesh attacked mosques in Saudi Arabia to drive a wedge between different communities and to tarnish the image of Saudi Arabia. However, Saudis foiled those attempts and showed solidarity with each other and expressed full confidence in their country’s leadership. Daesh failed to create chaos in Saudi Arabia because we knew that it was a bait to create mistrust among people in the Saudi society. This was not their first attempt, as they had tried this several times in the past as well but failed each time.

During the 1990s, Saudi Arabia came under terrorists’ attack twice. In both the incidents, Americans living in Saudi Arabia were the prime targets. One was perpetrated by Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah was behind the other. The primary goal of those attacks was to create unrest in the Kingdom and to pit the United States against Saudi Arabia.

Both the terrorist organizations realized that Saudi Arabia was invincible and it was not easy to harm the Kingdom’s stability. For the information of the readers, Osama Bin Laden considered Saudi Arabia as his enemy No. 1. But, he knew that penetrating Saudi society through terrorist attacks wasn’t that easy. So, he prepared the bait for the strongest nation on earth. Yes, I am talking about the good old US and the US took the bait.

On Sept. 11, 2001 four US commercial planes took off from the American east coast heading to the west coast, but never made it to their destinations. We all know the rest of the story. Osama Bin Laden’s real target was Saudi Arabia. He knew that the US would seek revenge. This was why; he recruited Saudis for the heinous mission. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks many people around the world knew that the US would attack Afghanistan. And it did. The goal of the US was to eradicate Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan but the US took its actions to a new level one by attacking Iraq. This is when people realized that the US had taken the bait.

During and after the American invasion of Iraq, more vicious terrorist cells were established in Iraq. The Americans built prisons that added to the anti-western sentiments. IS or Daesh was born in Iraq under the watchful eyes of the Americans. Ironically, the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world was born in the so-called American prisons that were supposed to keep terrorists on a leash.

It is sad that the US with its advanced spying technologies didn’t know how to deal with the Iraqi Army after the fall of Saddam Hussein and didn’t know how to use their human intelligence capabilities to know who was friend and who was a foe among Iraqis. And now we have a terrorist organization that is going global.

Without a doubt, France and all Europe will act and react — policies toward refugees may change; intolerance and Islamophobia may increase. But, it is crucial for Europe not to drag itself into a war with the unknown or the invisible. European borders are wide open and no matter how many watchful eyes on the ground, it will be impossible to monitor every soul. The terrorists’ aim is to create friction between all of the Europe and the millions of Muslims living and working in Europe and around the world. We should not help them succeed.

It is true that France and all of the Europe have the right to do whatever is necessary to protect their people, their interests and their land. But it is also important to do it without taking the terrorists bait. Let us think about the roots of such terrorist organization and who is behind it and funding it. The world must join hands to eradicate all terrorist organizations.

Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Don’t Take Terrorists’ Bait reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.

Ski Half Moon

18 November 2015 | 3 comments | Special Interest | by

Tim Barger

By the early 1950s, the extravagant waterskiing shows at places like Cypress Gardens in Florida had ignited a rage for waterskiing that swept the nation. A sport that combined blue water, fast boats, beautiful women, and daring young men performing death-defying tricks under the summer sun was the perfect expression of America’s post-war exuberance.

At the same time in Arabia, there were a lot of mid-20 or 30-something bachelors working for Aramco as drillers, managers, welders, pilots, engineers, dentists, and master machinists who made Half Moon Bay a waterskiing paradise. Sadly, there was a limited amount of bachelorettes to impress with their prowess, but if that didn’t work out, they still had a helluva great time speeding over the warm, clear water and eventually falling — to pinwheel across the surface to their doom.

It was a great deal of fun. The water skiers got together for beach picnics and parties, so it was natural that during a wild New Year’s Eve bash they hatched a plan for something truly special.

It boggled the imagination, a construct beyond the wildest fever dream of any Sufi mystic, a structure never seen before in the long history of the Arabian Gulf. They built a ski jump.

Basically a plywood ramp built on an 8-by-16-foot raft floating on oil drums, much like a skateboard configuration that you’d see today, the front lip of the jump started below the waterline and ended with you 8-plus feet in the air trying to land without breaking something.

I can pretty much guess how this beast got built in the shops – off the record. And I truly understand that Aramco’s transportation department somehow misplaced the work order that sent a giant flatbed Kenworth truck and a forklift to deliver a large, unspecified object to Half Moon Bay. However, I don’t have the slightest clue as to how it was officially allowed in the bay, anchored 50 feet offshore and about 200 yards east of the crumbling Coast Guard station at the head of the bay – about halfway to the Yacht Club on the point.

I presume that there was a cordial outreach by the water skiers to the three or four totally neglected Coast Guard men living in the shabby building without even a boat of their own. A few cases of Pepsi and frequent hundred-pound bags of ice were much appreciated, so the guardsmen could not have cared less what these Americans did. They were there for smugglers, not water skiers.

That summer is the golden age of ski-jumping in Saudi Arabia. One day, Milt and I drift down from the clubhouse a few hundred yards and watch maniac skiers hit the ramp and go flying into thin air – for better or worse. Everyone makes it off the ramp, but landings are problematic.

Ski jumping is a bit flawed as a spectator sport because you have to wait for the boat to make a long loop back to the jump, if it comes at all. As the skiers thin out, we begin to lose interest and start drifting back to the club when we hear a screaming whine headed our way. It’s a sleek, Italian-looking runabout driven by a vainly handsome, bare-chested young man wearing a wide grin and mirrored aviator shades. Behind the boat is a long towline, so for a second, we can’t see what’s happening.

It’s a long, thin line with someone at the end. The boat comes closer, and we realize that there is a petite woman at the end of the ski rope. At the last moment, the speedboat swerves and launches her onto the ramp. We finally realize who she is and watch our glamorous art teacher Miss Parker fly at least a dozen feet into the air and pin a perfect landing before she disappears across the water.

By October, it was too cold to ski, and the jump was neglected. Winter storms snapped a couple of the raft’s anchor lines, some of the oil drums rusted through and flooded. By the next summer, the ski jump was a drifting, lopsided, broken relic covered with barnacles. Occasionally, some madman would attempt to jump it, but he’d be lucky not to fall and be shredded alive.

However, none of this mattered because after months of agonizing about the cost of a boat versus the perpetual expenses of a family of six children, my dad Tom chose the boat.

A mid-level manager at the time, comfortable enough, he drove a 1950 Humber pickup truck, had to watch his cash flow, and the boat was a reach. This decision was followed by a long, involved process to figure out what kind of boat. After lengthy discussions with his circle of experts and pals, my dad decided.

It was late May when the shipment arrived. A fourteen-foot Grumman aluminum boat, a custom trailer to haul it, and a sturdy Evinrude outboard motor, maybe 50 horsepower – I don’t really know. My dad was always irked that the trailer cost nearly a third of the boat.

The Grumman opened a whole new aquatic world to us. We were at Half Moon Bay every weekend. Trolling the coast for skipjack, lingering over fishing holes at the Third Reef. You could clearly see a 20-pound hamoor in the clear water 10 feet below and easily work your lure to within a foot of his gulping jaws. But these groupers hadn’t survived for eons by being stupid. Most of the time, they’d slowly move on. Somewhere embedded in the darkest recesses of a hamoor’s tiny brain, there is a line of code that says, “If it’s too good to be true, swim away.” And they did, except for the one or two guys that didn’t get the memo.

One weekend, my dad, my brother Mike, and I took the boat about half way to Salt Mine Point. Nowadays it’s called Qarriyah where a sprawling, industrial complex of desalination plants pumps millions of gallons of water to Riyadh every day.

Tom steered the Grumman right up to the shore and beached it in two feet of water. There was not a person within miles and, for as far as you could see in either direction, the long, straight beach was exactly as it was a thousand years ago―deserted. We hauled our supplies up to the high-tide line, built a fire, cooked our hot dogs, and watched the stars until we drifted off in our sleeping bags to the sound of very small waves lapping softly on the shore.

My dad loved waterskiing. He was really good at it and, though he was in his mid-forties and wouldn’t have risked the ski jump in its heyday, he became quite agile on one slalom ski, slashing back and forth across the wake as my godfather Steve Furman, chewing on an unlit cigar, sped us across the bay. Eight years old and the size of a tall rhesus monkey, I was the spotter.

A bright-eyed, lanky 14-year-old, my sister Annie was a natural athlete and terrific horsewoman with plenty of Gymkhana blue ribbons to her name. She was eager to waterski and mastered it almost immediately.

To a passing Bedouin, the sight of our speeding boat trailing a very long rope held by a 90-pound girl, waving as she passes, would make no sense at all and definitely provide much food for thought.

But Annie is having a great time. Tom is chilling at the wheel. The motor is purring, the Grumman is slicing through the water, and Half Moon Bay salt spray mists the air. All is good. And then it isn’t.

I had just turned to look to the bow, and we both see it at the same time. There is really nothing we could do. It is less than a 50 yards ahead of us, and there is nowhere to turn. Tom couldn’t stop or even veer off because Annie might lose her grip. And fall into a giant swirling pod of jellyfish.

He has to steer straight through it, and Annie just has to hold on or else.

Near the end of summer, the jellyfish bloom. A very pale, almost translucent blue, they are about the size of half a soccer ball with a feathery fringe and a bunch of stubby tentacles covered with hundreds of spring-loaded stingers that fire on contact.

They aren’t too bad to swim around because there are usually just one or two, here or there. However, under certain tidal and current conditions, they would be swept together into a giant cluster. A 150-foot circle packed tight with thousands of jellyfish caught in a strange and deadly Sargasso Sea.

I spin to watch Annie. She hasn’t seen the jellies yet, but then the water turns pale with their multitude. She realizes what’s happening. My heart is in my throat. My sister will certainly die if she falls.

White knuckling the tow-rope handle, Annie shifts into some other gear that she didn’t even know existed, sets her jaw, and breaks into a crooked grin as if this dangerous challenge is going to be more fun than ever.

Her skis are slapping over jellyfish as if they are cobble stones made of small, squishy pillow cases. I quiver every time she cuts over another one. My dad is freaked out trying to get through this mess as fast as possible – but not too fast or she might tumble. I’m watching Annie, trying to decide. If she falls? Will I jump into all those tentacles to save her?

And the pod never ends, I can’t even see the water, all I can see is Annie skiing over a living surface of pulsating, pale blue-white jellyfish. Her knees are shaking, her arms are trembling, her grin is now a straight line of grim determination.

Tom yells, “Here we go! Here we go!”

We’re almost out of the pod. Annie skis through the last 20 feet of jellyfish and into the clear water of the bay. Skis about another 100 yards before she falls – in the right place. Annie’s beaming when we pick her up. In the boat, my dad lifts her like a feather and hugs her closely. He’s so relieved and so proud of Annie. I’m still dumbfounded that she has defied an unimaginable death by poisonous tentacles.

Annie takes off her bathing cap, shakes her hair out. She’s young, lithe, and beautiful, hopping up and down, triumphant and manic with glee. We’re all happy as my dad trolls along the coast a bit and then heads home. She doesn’t express an interest in skiing back to the Yacht Club.

ARABIAN SON: 21 Stories by Tim Barger
ARABIAN SON: 21 Stories
by Tim Barger

E-book: $4.95

Paperback: 142 pages ~ $12.95
ISBN: 978-098820505-5
Available at Amazon

RFA Announces New Wealth Management Service for Global Payroll Employees

18 November 2015 | 0 comments | Special Interest | by

RFA Announces New Wealth Management Service for Global Payroll Employees

As you already know, working and living abroad comes with many challenges. You may have felt the difficulty of finding an institution willing to hold your assets and the complexity of transaction costs. You may have felt the negative impact of large swings in currency exchange rates. Whatever the case, finding a comprehensive solution to help plan and project your retirement may not have been easy. In total, being an expat in today’s world is not easy financially.

Reilly Financial Advisors is a Registered Investment Advisor providing clients with an integrated solution to all their financial needs, domestically and globally. For many years, we have been asked if we can help those on Aramco’s payroll by providing a comprehensive wealth management solution, similar to the service that we provide to our American clients on the U.S. Dollar Payroll. Unfortunately, our answer was no, due to strict Patriot Act laws. The Reilly Family and team at Reilly Financial Advisors have spent considerable time researching a solution to this challenge and are pleased to announce that we now offer a comprehensive Wealth Management Service for Global Payroll Employees. This service provides:

  • Professional Investment Management
  • Multi-Currency Custody Arrangements
  • In-home Advising
  • Investment Models
  • Personalized Financial Planning
  • Tax Consulting
  • Retirement Planning

Our extensive and unique history of 40 years helping expats both define and achieve their individual financial goals provides a unique opportunity for us to help you! If you are on the Global Payroll and are looking for a comprehensive solution to help plan for your future, we would love the opportunity to further discuss our new service. Our Wealth Management Service for Global Payroll Employees aims to simplify an uncertain future and bring context to your current financial position. RFA’s experience and expertise with international markets has provided an opportunity to help Global Payroll Expats access investment options while overseas or working in Saudi Arabia.

The time is now! We have been studying the ins and outs of Global Payroll for years and are fully prepared to use our knowledge to help you reach your retirement goals. Our team of dedicated financial experts is available to you as a resource. This new service represents significant progress that we believe will eliminate some of the challenges you face as an expat.

For more information or to arrange for a consultation to discuss your personal situation, please email us at

AramcoWorld Honored with 10 International Awards

18 November 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Saudi Aramco’s flagship publication, AramcoWorld, was honored recently in New York City with 10 magazine-industry awards.

This is the highest number of awards ever received by AramcoWorld from the international competition sponsored by Folio: magazine, which this year attracted more than 3,000 entries in 150 categories of editorial excellence and 90 categories of design excellence.

Each category is based on magazine type, mission and circulation size, and each entry is evaluated by three to five industry peer judges. AramcoWorld was commended for editorial excellence of its digital edition, its six-part series ”Travelers of Al-Andalus” and its videos “The Hazelnuts of Trabzon” and “The Cave Artists of Sulawesi.”

The magazine received laurels in overall design excellence and in two categories for outstanding digital design. The cover of the September/October 2014 issue was commended, as were the illustrations in the series “Travelers of Al-Andalus” and photography in the feature, “The Hazelnuts of Trabzon.”

“The broad spread of awards highlights strength from every member of our editorial team,” said Richard Doughty, editor. “The long tradition of the magazine’s excellence inspires everyone— challenging us to take quality further every day and explore new platforms for delivery.”

Public Affairs in Aramco’s Houston office produces the bimonthly print and online magazine, which seeks to broaden knowledge of the culture, history and geography of the Arab and Islamic worlds.

Earlier this year, AramcoWorld opened its Instagram feed, @aramcoworld. “Of all the social media out there, Instagram is almost ideal for AramcoWorld,” says Doughty. “We have six decades of archival photos to draw from as well as photographers right now producing beautiful, storytelling images. Even though a single picture and a caption might seem small compared to what we do in print, it’s actually a powerfully memorable combination, and it fits today’s digital reading habits.”

Key to Unlocking Regional Petrochemicals Diversification Potential

18 November 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Key to Unlocking Regional Petrochemicals Diversification Potential

Saudi Aramco showcases its integrated downstream technology strategy and portfolio at the 10th annual Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) forum, taking place in Dubai, UAE from November 17 – 19.

The Annual Forum, GPCA’s flagship event, is the leading networking event for the petrochemicals and chemicals industry in the Arabian Gulf region. During the three day forum, delegates from some of the world’s biggest petrochemicals and chemical producers, share their perspectives on current industry issues. Since the first meeting in 2006, GPCA annual forum attendance has grown steadily year after year along with the reputation of the event in the global chemical industry.

Warren Wilder, VP Chemicals, Saudi Aramco said: “GPCA is a great focal point for our regional industry. In challenging economic times, our industry must work even harder to unlock its growth potential. Across the region and beyond, we now need to embed the collaboration and partnerships necessary for diversification into high-value manufacturing sectors that will sow the seeds of our long-term success.”

Saudi Aramco’s Integrated Energy Strategy

With a global refining capacity of 5.4million bpd, Saudi Aramco has diversified its portfolio to become an efficient, integrated global energy and chemicals company operating across the entire petroleum and chemicals value-chain.

Saudi Aramco’s global footprint in chemicals is well established, having adopted an international partnership and joint venture approach to help build a portfolio that encompasses crude supply, refining, petrochemicals and lubes, right through to closely-linked marketing and distribution channels, backed by world-class technology and innovation.

In addition, Saudi Aramco’s downstream strategy is about the conversion of petrochemical commodities and consequently spurring growth in new industries to contribute to Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification and competitiveness. Localization of Saudi Arabia’s energy sector will enhance the Kingdom’s overall competitiveness, helping accelerate industrial growth across many industry sectors and creating thousands of new high-skill, high-value manufacturing jobs for the Kingdom’s growing population.

Rapidly Expanding Global Footprint

Saudi Aramco’s world-class, integrated chemicals complex projects are changing the landscape of the global petrochemicals industry.

In 2011 Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemicals established the Sadara Chemical Company. At Jubail Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, Sadara is constructing the world’s largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase, with 26 integrated world-scale manufacturing plants that will produce more than three million tons of products every year. At a total investment of about US$20 billion, Sadara is on schedule for initial start-up by the end of 2015 and will be the first chemical complex in the GCC region to use naphtha as part of its feedstock, leading to new specialty chemicals plants and new businesses in the Kingdom.

In August 2014, the crude oil throughput of the Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical Company (SATORP), a joint venture refinery with Total located in Jubail on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, reached the facility’s full design capacity of 400,000 barrels per day. The refinery has a comprehensive array of advanced mild, distillate and fluid catalytic cracker technology to convert heavy crude oil that is especially hard to process into high-value-added low-sulfur gasoline, diesel and jet fuel products, as well as an annual production of 1 million tons of paraxylene, benzene and high-purity propylene.

A joint venture with Asia’s largest refiner, Sinopec, YASREF is a 400,000 barrels per day refinery designed to process Arabian heavy crude oil to produce premium transportation fuels such as gasoline and ultra-low-sulfur diesel, as well as liquefied petroleum gases, benzene, sulfur and petroleum coke. YASREF delivered its first shipment of clean diesel fuel in mid-January 2015.

Work is well under-way on Phase II of the Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company (Petro Rabigh) complex expansion, with Sumitomo Chemical Company of Japan. This expansion will add specialty ethylene and propylene-based products by de-bottlenecking the existing steam cracker. The project will also enable conversion of 4,000 kilotons per year of naphtha into higher value aromatic products.

In addition, Saudi Aramco’s Fujian Refinery and Petrochemical Company joint venture in China – with ExxonMobil, Sinopec and the Fujian provincial government – successfully processes Saudi Arabian sour crude oil and produces high quality polymer products which are marketed in China by a Saudi Aramco affiliate. Meanwhile Saudi Aramco’s stake in S-Oil’s integrated refinery and petrochemical complex, South Korea’s third largest, has strengthened the company’s foothold in Asia.

The recently announced joint venture between Saudi Aramco and the German specialty chemicals company, Lanxess, which is expected to close in the first half of 2016, is seen by Saudi Aramco as a milestone in its pioneering journey to further extend its globally-integrated downstream expansion. Lanxess has a world-class synthetic rubber and elastomer products capability and many of the world’s largest tire and automotive-parts manufacturers are already counted as customers.

The JV has a compelling industrial logic for both parties, and Saudi Aramco expects to provide the new JV entity with financial stability, additional scale and resources, continued investment in technology, unrivalled opportunities to integrate with petrochemical facilities, and potential cost-competitive access to reliable feedstock supplies.

Interestingly, the Lanxess green tires technology which reduces fuel consumption will complement Saudi Aramco’s two-pronged fuel / engine R&D strategy that is focused on increasing the mileage efficiency of vehicles, and reducing pollutant emissions of future engines.