Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah appointed nine new ministers as part of the Kingdom’s broadest Cabinet reshuffle in years.
Saudis in general have welcomed this move, as they are looking for improved performances of various ministries. The new appointments have been made on very strategic position.
The new assignment comes amid many plans to push social reforms in the Kingdom and to raise the standard of living of Saudis. But it is very important to note that many young Saudis expect more efforts from the new ministers. It is a known fact that the any minister in the Kingdom enjoys unlimited authority from the government with almost unlimited resources. Saudi ministers are probably the only ones in the world who ask for a billion-dollar budget and receive twice the required amount. And Saudi citizens know it. It is announced very transparently on the Saudi National TV. The budget plans are available to all Saudis. So Saudis on many occasions would compare the performance of each ministry with the assets allocated for each ministry. And few years ago after the announcement of the Saudi largest-ever annual national budget’s announcement, King Abdullah spoke live in front of the cameras of the Saudi National TV with words directed to the ministers with clear and detailed instructions that the well-being and of the Saudi citizens is the ministers’ main task. In other words, Saudi citizens should be the top priority of every ministry.
It is true that Saudi Arabia is a very huge country with a population of about 30 million people and there is very great need for new infrastructure and many of the old projects are in need of major overhaul but the country possesses the assets and the necessary financial resources. In other words, we were able to do it in the past so it can be done now. The new ministers are coming to their new posts with great enthusiasm but they have many challenges. The health care system has to be improved, higher education need more reforms, Saudi media has to approach many issues more openly, Saudi youth has to be encouraged to be more aware of their general behavior and it is very important to eradicate corruption. Due to corruption progress on many development projects has been hampered. The new and old ministers should assign the right people for the right posts in their respective ministries according to what they know and not whom they know. Saudi Arabia is facing many domestic challenges and foreign threats, which emphasize the great need to speed up various social and political reforms and to give great attention to the need of the Saudis. The ministers are assigned to their posts for one reason i.e. to serve the country and its people.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. A New Era of Development in KSA reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Before the mushrooming of satellite dishes on our rooftops, the Arab world heavily relied on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for reports from across the world. The BBC was founded decades ago and with the passage of time, it initiated its services in various world languages. The BBC Arabic Service, established in 1938, gained immense popularity and emerged as one of the most trusted news sources in this part of the world mainly due to the absence of a proper local media network. At that time, many countries did not even have their state-run radio or television stations or if they did have, their coverage was very limited.
The number of listeners in the region hiked and the BBC gained more popularity after the 1967 war when it revealed to the joyful Arab masses the sad but true outcome of the war between the Arabs and Israelis. Since then the BBC became the most reliable source to verify any report about any event taking place in the Arab world or the Middle East to be more precise. What the BBC reported was accepted without any doubt among the Arab masses.
During those days, there were limited opportunities for women in the Arab world and especially Saudi Arabia in the media world. So, international media outlets were out of the question and out of reach but not for a very young Saudi woman with the name Huda Al-Rasheed. Many years before the communication revolution and the age of the Internet, Huda Al-Rasheed undertook the biggest challenge of her career by joining the most famous broadcasting company. She also became the first Saudi anchorwoman to work for the BBC Arabic in the British capital. Her voice became the most distinguished on the radio waves all over the Arab world and the Middle East and her news broadcasting opening words, Huna London (This is London) became as famous in the area as the words of America’s CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite. Ironically, many years ago I met Cronkite but never got the opportunity to meet Huda Al-Rasheed.
As for Al-Rasheed, the road had not been very smooth. In an interview, she shed light on her journey to fame with Nadin Albdearto at the Etijahat program on Rotana Khalijiah TV. She met many challenges. She was very young and she wanted to go abroad to study English at first. But, her mind was set for a bigger role. Her ambition was so high it was touching the rainbow of an English rainy day. She applied for a job there at the BBC and took an exam and headed back to Saudi Arabia. Few months passed and the news came from London that she passed all the requirements and there was a job opening for her and she was welcome if she were still interested. This time her father gave the green light and she headed to London. As time passed her voice became the most recognized voice in the Arab world and her distinguished style of news reading and her achievements became a source of inspiration for many women in Saudi Arabia. It is true that where there is a will, there is a way.
After leaving her job, she chose to stay low-key but people still remember her voice. People in the Arab world still listen to the BBC for extensive coverage of world events and analysis but for many years, the BBC was known by a young Saudi young woman who said the famous words of Huna London. Al-Rasheed should be given more recognition. Many say that she is the biggest achiever among Saudi women.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Saudi Aramco’s role in the Kingdom’s chemicals industry is growing and accelerating with a strategic shift in focus designed to increase the local economic footprint of the company’s chemical investments.
Chemicals production capacity in the Kingdom increased by almost 10 percent from 2007 to 2012, allowing the company to capture additional value from its hydrocarbon resources, says Warren Wilder, vice president of Saudi Aramco Chemicals in a recent interview during the annual Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) forum.
However, it is not enough anymore for petrochemical companies in the GCC states (Gulf Cooperation Coouncil) to maintain a steady output of products that are exported overseas for conversion and manufacturing. These products should form the basis for local conversion industries, said Wilder, which would offer “wide-ranging socioeconomic benefits, including the creation of employment opportunities, and the growth and diversification of national economies.”
Saudi Aramco is actively engaged in integrating its chemicals production with refinery assets, and shifting its focus to conversion industries. Saudi Aramco’s joint venture, Petro Rabigh, has a conversion park associated with it. The Rabigh PlusTech Park was the first industrial estate for conversion industries in the Kingdom that is fully occupied with local conversion and support industries.
To further promote local conversion, Saudi Aramco’s joint venture with Dow Chemical Company, Sadara, is developing a plug-and-play PlasChem Park, which will house downstream chemical manufacturers and plastics conversion industries. Wilder, who sits on Sadara’s Board of Directors, said the chemical plant will begin delivering products in the second half of 2015 that will complement inputs available locally from other downstream facilities in the Kingdom.
Saudi Aramco is also involved in chemicals manufacturing outside the GCC. “China is a large and growing market for chemicals and Aramco Asia already has a footprint in that country,” said Wilder. “For almost two years now Aramco Asia has been successfully marketing polymer products from the Fujian Refinery and Petrochemical Company (FREP).” The company is also in the process of seeking regulatory and other approvals for increasing its stake in S-Oil, a Korean integrated refinery and petrochemical complex, to 63.7 percent to enhance its presence in the growing Asian markets.
Saudi Aramco continues to look for opportunities in growing markets. Many of these opportunities will involve the integration of petrochemicals with the company’s growing international refinery portfolio.
“Our vision is to build an integrated downstream portfolio encompassing the entire value chain from crude supply, refining, petrochemicals and lubes to closely linked marketing and distribution channels, supported by world-class innovation and technologies,” concluded Wilder.
The monthly progress meeting of Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association (SAEEA) was held on Dec 06, 2014:
The attendees were as follows:
• Kamal Ahmed Farooqi (KAF)
• Engr. Iqbal Ahmed Khan (IAK)
• Ghulam Qutubuddin Khan (GQK)
• Mohammad Abdul Matin (MAM)
• Muhammad Salim Hamid (MSH)
• Shafiq Ahmed Khan (SAK)
The highlights of the meeting were as follows:
•The meeting was held at the residence of Engr. Iqbal Ahmed Khan. KAF thanked IAK who provided his house for the meeting and arranged a very delicious lunch for all the attendees.
•KAF highlighted the activities occurred during the month of November 2014.
•KAF thanked IAK for preparing a very informative data for all SAEEA Members. This information will help in contacting the Members easily through land line/cell or e-mail. KAF requested GQK to contact all Members to make certain their continued interest and future attendance in SAEEA reunions.
•During SAEEA 11th Reunion, a leading newspaper announced certain giveaways items for the children attended the picnic. Furthermore, the newspaper announced good number of giveaways items for ladies, gents and children during the forthcoming SAEEA’s 12th Reunion. SAEEA will distribute children items during the forthcoming 12th reunion. SAEEA will also distribute other give away items thru LUCKY DRAW or asking certain questions amongst all attendees during the 12th reunion and then distribute gifts to qualified persons. A Representative from the Newspaper also attended SAEEA meeting to know exact date of SAEEA 12th reunion to enable him to supply promised items ahead of time.
•It was unanimously agreed in holding SAEEA 12th reunion at the beginning of next year; tentatively January 4, 2015. KAF is in contact with a Restaurant for reserving the place.
•IAK informed all the attendees that SAEEA website is updated.
•MSH updated the attendees about SAEEA account and paid members.
•SAK is in process of designing SAEEA 2015 Calendar. The same will be distributed amongst SAEEA Members during the forthcoming 12th Reunion.
•KAF prayed for fast recovery of all sick people, especially for MSH’s mother, KAF’s wife, Iftikhar Ahmed, Anwar Mirza, G.M. Abbasi, Mahmood, Jaleel and others.
•Younger Brother of GQK, Mubeenuddin Khan, passed away two weeks ago.
If you have any questions then please call Engr. Iqbal Ahmed Khan on +92-321-701-4929 or write to him on email@example.com
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
A few years ago, many frequent flyers traveling on westbound flights from Australian airports noticed that whenever they would log on to Australia’s travel websites, they would see advertisements of a newly-established foreign airline offering cheaper fares and claiming to offer better service.
So most travelers using Australian websites would book the flights of an airline based in the United Arab Emirates i.e. Emirates. However, that problem has been solved with Australian national carrier Qantas joining hands with Emirates in forming an alliance. It’s true: If you can’t beat them, join them.
That was perhaps not enough for the new airline. Observers may also recall reports about the fierce competition between Canadian aviation establishments and Emirates over landing rights on Canadian airports. Had it been provided with more landing routes, it would have conveniently beaten Canadian airlines in their own airspace. The UAE has another thriving airline, Etihad Airways, which does not only fly to various global destinations but has recently acquired 49 percent of the total shares of Italy’s national airline, Alitalia. In other words, the UAE is open to the world and is currently dominating the skies. When you dominate the skies, you are seen all over the world. You must be wondering as to why I started this article by highlighting the success of the UAE’s aviation industry. The main reason is the short span within which the UAE has achieved this marvel. What was the United Arab Emirates around 43 years ago?
Despite its strategic location, the UAE back in 1971 was almost isolated from the rest of the world. With its shoreline stretching hundreds of miles, it had very primitive ports and virtually no roads connecting it to the neighboring countries. Just a few decades ago, going to or leaving the UAE was one of the most difficult things for any traveler. They had a dusty runway for the whole country that handled an average of one flight per week. But now they have the most modern and busiest airports in the world and seaports and ports facilities so huge and modern it almost won the contract for handling the operations of one of the busiest American ports. The most unique thing about the UAE is that it transformed itself from the most isolated country in the world to one of the most developed countries in the world. Hundreds of events are held every week and Formula One is held once a year. The UAE has become a melting pot of different cultures. Mind you, majority of the people are not Emiratis. And just a week ago, the United Arab Emirates celebrated its 43rd National Day. Being founded only four decades ago, it is one of the youngest countries in the world. In other words, when the Americans sent a man on the moon in 1969, the UAE was two years away from coming into being. And in 1971 any small town in the US had more banks, schools, students’ enrollment, doctors, engineers, water resources, gas pumps and roads than the entire United Arab Emirates. The total area of the UAE is equivalent to the size of South Carolina (a little over 32,000 square miles) with a population of about 9 million people.
It was formed in 1971 when it gained full independence from the British rule. Interestingly, the British initiated the talk of its independence in the mid 1960s when it had become clear that the British government was not interested to bear the burden of being in the area and administer what is now the UAE. The then UK Secretary of State for Defense, Denis Winston Healey, reported that the British Navy was overstretched. The report was supported by then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and later on reaffirmed by British Minister Edward Heath to end the protection treaty. It was followed by the creation of a union between seven emirates. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, became the president of the union, which consists of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm Al-Quwain and Ras Al-Khaimah. And the current president is Sheikh Khalifah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The UAE is a modern-wday miracle. In just 43 years, the UAE has the highest per capita income. Its people enjoy free education at all levels, free health care and no income tax.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. The Success Story of UAE reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.