Saudi Energy Experts, Read My Lips

31 August 2014 | 0 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

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

Norway has oil and gas. It is their bread and butter and so is the case with Saudi Arabia. We also have oil and gas but it is not only our bread and butter, it is also our dessert. In other words, in Saudi Arabia we use the huge income from the energy sector to build the country but we simply overspend on our projects and waste lavishly big portion of what we extract from our depleted source of income, or the only source of income. Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938 and we are still failing to find ways to diversify the source of income. As a matter of fact, we have even failed in producing oil experts and strategists. We are the most important oil and gas producing country in the world and Saudi analysts get their energy analysis from Western sources. Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries, if not the only, in the world that can produce 12 million barrels every day, 365 days a year without a sweat.

Few days ago, an Offshore Northern Seas Energy Conference was held in Stavanger, Norway. The conference was attended by our top oil expert in the Kingdom, Saudi Aramco CEO, Khalid Al-Falih. The day I read I about the conference in Norway, I recalled two articles that I wrote in this paper. One was titled, “What Norway’s Statoil did that Saudi Aramco could not do?” The other was titled “Kingdom needs oil industry think tank.”

During the conference, Saudi Aramco CEO expressed his concerns about the increasing oil sector costs and global conflicts which could result in a lack of oil supplies in the long-term, if oil firms fail to make “prudent and timely investments.” But may be this is for the rest of the world. So what is it for Saudis and Saudi Arabia and how should we define prudent and timely investments?

During the conference Saudi Aramco CEO announced that there will be tens of billions of dollars in investments but at this time the prudent thing in Saudi Arabia is to simply do what the Norwegians have been doing for a long time. It is to decrease our dependence on oil wealth by finding ways of diversifying our income and establish a transparent sovereign fund for future generations. At this time the only diversification of income that we have in the Kingdom is the petrochemical industry. And it is true that we now have one of the biggest chemical industries in the world but it came at a price. First, the chemical industries are linked with the oil and gas industry and secondly this industry harms environment.

There is another thing that we should learn from the Norwegians just by walking or driving through their streets. You don’t see highly expensive cars driven by teenagers. In other words, we have to teach our young to respect the current wealth. We must teach them not to waste it. Currently, there is no need to increase oil production. Instead, it is vital that we cut down on our expenditures. We seem to exaggerate in our development plans and with mega and unnecessary projects we open the doors for corruption and misuse of the public funds. Oil and gas is very important for Saudi Arabia and now we are simply burning it to cool our homes and buildings and we subsidies many strategic commodities such as electricity, fuel at the pump and the highly expensive desalinated water. In Norway, they pay ten times what we pay at the gas pump. At the end, Saudi energy experts, please read my lips. Look at Norway and do it their way. Oil will not be here forever and we have future generations to look after.

Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Saudi Energy Experts, Read My Lips reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.

Highlights-SAEEA 11th Reunion-4th Anniversary held on August 10, 2014

28 August 2014 | 5 comments | Pakistan | by

SAEEA Reunion

Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association (SAEEA) celebrated 11th Reunion, 4th Anniversary, Eid Milan and the First Picnic on August 10, 2014 at Karachi Farm House, Super Highway, Karachi. The Highlights of the function are as follows:

  1. A total of 145 persons attended the function (70 male, 45 ladies and 30 children)
  2. All attendees met with their old buddies and enjoyed the event.
  3. Three additional persons joined the Association and became Members. They are M. Muslemeen (Badge No.73073), Shah M. Umar Farooqi (Badge No. 73978) and Qazi Ahmed Naseer (Badge No.74869).
  4. Function Secretary, Syed Shahid Ali started the event with the recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Engr. Iqbal Ahmed Khan.
  5. This was not a formal reunion but was very special one as we all celebrated the first PICNIC in a Farm House. There was a high pressure from most of the members to change the usual routine and to do it in a different style. To keep the valuable opinion of all the members SAEEA with the help of other Members, especially Khaliluddin Qureshi, Qamar A. Khan, Syed Shabbar S. Abidi, Jamil Shaikh and Mrs. Qamar Khan remarkably organized this event. The attendance figure shows the success of the reunion. Children enjoyed the most as well as the senior SAEEA Members. The change proved beyond SAEEA expectations.
  6. SAEEA also invited few professional musicians for a musical program during the picnic, which is an extra flavor for the event. Few SAEEA Members also participated in the musical program. All participants enjoyed the music.
  7. In the ladies side the goodies bag and the quiz program made a big attraction for ladies and children.
  8. Few games were also planned for men area, however, because of shortage of time they were not performed.
  9. There were four swimming pools in the Farm House and most of the attendees, especially children, enjoyed the most.
  10. A leading newspaper contacted and requested SAEEA to provide a list of all small children attending the picnic. They intended distributing gifts to the children. SAEEA provided list of small children and will distribute the gifts when received.
  11. Since the function started early morning, therefore, SAEEA arranged breakfast, lunch and then evening tea for all attendees.
  12. In the short speech Kamal Ahmed Farooqi (KAF)-President SAEEA informed that this picnic is a special one and there is no need for any formal speech etc. All office bearers were available with all the members and they are exchanging their views and suggestions for future activities.
  13. KAF thanked all attendees, especially Khaliluddin Qureshi, Syed Shabbar S. Abidi, Qamar A. Khan, Mrs. Qamar Khan and Jamiluddin Shaikh for devoting their valuable time and energy for making the program successful.
  14. KAF thanked The Musicians Mr. Mehdi and Mr. Zafar for their participation and as a token of remembrance presented them the SAEEEA Souvenirs.
  15. Finally KAF prayed for all the sick Members of the Association.
SAEEA Reunion

Download the 11th Reunion Photo Album

Missouri: Lessons Learned

26 August 2014 | 1 comment | Opinions & Editorials | by

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

For people outside the US, the State of Missouri is not a place known to many, let alone a small town named Ferguson. It is a small town located in St. Louis County, which has about 20,000 people. The town lives in the shadow of Missouri’s largest city, St. Louis. For the last few weeks, things have changed and Ferguson became the barometer of the fragility of any society, more so that of the American one.

Missouri has been in news since a young African-American, Michael Brown, was shot dead in Ferguson by a cop, Darren Wilson, which led to huge protests. The death of Brown has put the police action in the spotlight.

But, should the police bear the whole burden? The American police is the world’s best and the most well-equipped. Their military arsenal and equipment are stronger than many armies in the world. They are professional and highly respected and most important very polite and courteous in dealing with the public. They are at the same time very disciplined and strict and one is supposed to cooperate with them if ever required. The police force in any case work at times in a very hostile situation and hence will not hesitate to use force when needed.

In this recent incident of protests against police action, tear gas was fired at the crowd, bullets were fired, people were arrested and Missouri State National Guard was deployed.

The lesson that we learned from the riots in Ferguson is that disturbing peace is a red line that should not be crossed.

In other words, the human rights activists in the US would take a break and media such as CNN would not report everything they see. This is the reason many people around the world saw protesters at the door steps of the CNN Hqs. in Atlanta, Georgia.

The other lesson we learned is no society is immune from national disorder even in such democratic country like the US. And the people outside are asking if there is a real social divide and the protests could have spread to other places and other cities in the US. But, the final and most important lesson that we can learn is that the US media and US decision makers should not jump to conclusion when even a similar or even a smaller event happens outside their borders. Each and every country should protect its national interests. It is true that we still don’t know the final details of the investigations in regard to what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, but, events showed if law and order is not restored quickly, things can get out of hand. The beautiful American State of Missouri with its breathtaking plains and Gateway Arch had changed the course of history of the US since its admission to the union, but, a small town like Ferguson can also change the image of the US.

The State of Missouri is seen through many historical events, which not only shaped the course of the American history but the history of th world.. The state was under Spanish rule when Napoleon Bonaparte took over the Louisiana ownership in 1800. Three years later Louisiana became part of the Louisiana Purchase by the US. In 1803, the US paid 4 cents per acre to the French and acquired an area of more than two million sq km, thus making Missouri gateway to the west of the American continent.

Missouri’s other notable information include President Harry Truman who was a senator from here, and the Empire of Japan signed the surrender agreement aboard USS Missouri to end WWII. Missouri has had its impact on world science, agricultural and aviation industry.

Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Missouri: Lessons Learned reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.

Jervin Justin, Graduated With an MBA from Harvard Business School on May 2014

25 August 2014 | 2 comments | Graduations & Retirements | by

Jervin Justin, son of Sebastian Justin and Vasantha Justin, graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School on May 2014. He will begin working as a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group in Dallas. He did his high school studies at the Indian International School in Dammam and his undergraduate studies in Computer Engineering at the Texas A&M University, College Station.

Jervin’s older brother, Jaison, graduated with an MBA from Kellogg School of Management in May 2010. He is a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group in Dallas. He did his high school studies at the Indian International School in Dammam and his undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Sebastian Justin worked at the Exploration and Producing’s Reservoir Description Division in Dhahran. The Justin family lived in Saudi Arabia from 1977 till 2009 and raised their two sons, Jaison and Jervin, there.

I’ve also included two photos (attached) that you can use, one is of my graduation, one is of my family and me together.

Ensuring Ebola-Free Haj

24 August 2014 | 0 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

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

Haj season started just recently. Haj or pilgrimage to Makkah is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is required to be performed by a Muslim once in a lifetime if he/she is adult and can afford it financially, without any difficulty or obstacles (Liman Ista’a Elayhi sabila). In other words, a Muslim who does not meet the above conditions has no religious obligation to perform Haj.

Even though the Haj season starts a short time after Ramadan, the actual Haj rituals start about two months after the end of the holy month. This year, the days of Haj will be falling around the beginning of October. Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, is likely to be on Oct. 4 subject to the sighting of the new moon. During the Haj season, the Saudi government mobilizes all resources to look after around 3 million pilgrims. Preparations start very early long before the Haj season. It starts with visa issuance and the arrival of pilgrims via land, air and sea. They are taken care of from the time of their arrival till their departure. Before the beginning of the Haj season, various government agencies are pressed into service to ensure all facilities for pilgrims. Hospitals, field hospitals, thousands of ambulances, civil defense personnel, passport control, helicopters, boy scouts, tens of thousands of policemen and many other agencies take part in ensuring the safety and comfort of the millions of pilgrims who arrive in the Kingdom.

During the Haj season, the Kingdom is faced with many challenges. These challenges can range from threats of terrorism to deadly accidental fires and from massive road accidents to deaths due to stampede. Now, the threat is in the form of diseases, such as Ebola. During the past month, Ebola broke out in many western African countries. The way its symptoms start is in itself misleading for doctors. It starts like flu with fever, headache and joint pains. But, a few days later the symptoms change dramatically to vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding from the gum, nose and gastrointestinal tract. After that, the patient would experience low blood pressure and drastic loss of fluid. Health experts say it is not transmitted through the air we breathe, rather it is transmitted through a patient’s fluids. During Haj we have around three million people in very limited space living side by side with each other for days. So, what can happen and what can be done?

The health and well-being of Hajis is very important and it is our duty to ensure their full protection from diseases. It is true that Ebola broke out in places in which health care is not advanced, but, there will be many Hajis coming from west and central African countries that are hit with the virus, which is not treatable. The presence of this virus in congested place can create chaos. There would be strict quarantine procedures if any Ebola case is found and it takes days and may be weeks before doctors can determine if a patient has contracted Ebola.

Saudi Arabia at this stage must take every necessary step to protect the millions of Hajis coming to the Kingdom. Although GCC countries have pledged to take a unified stance to combat the deadly Ebola virus by training health officials and making use of regional facilities to diagnose and treat such diseases, it is also important for the Kingdom to make sure that Hajis do not come from Ebola-stricken countries. Taking care of Ebola patients during Haj can be stressful and it is better to be on the safer side. Haj can be performed in later years by anyone who can’t perform it this year. Haj is a religious duty that can be performed whenever the situation permits. It can be delayed but the disease will not wait if it strikes.

Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Ensuring Ebola-Free Haj reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.