The Cycle of Violence in Gaza Cannot Go On

16 July 2014 | 3 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

Khaled AlmaeenaKhaled Almaeena

The relentless Israeli bombing of Gaza for the past few days continues unabated. In fact it is increasing by the hour and the death toll is rising. Most affected are children and women.

What is different from previous airstrikes, which use freely supplied, sophisticated, lethal American weaponry, is the precision targeting of civilian homes, charity organizations, hospitals and dispensaries.

There is no end in sight as Prime Minister Netanyahu stated: “We do not know when this operation will stop.” Over 185 Palestinians have been killed as Israelis pound what is described as the largest open prison camp.

No Israeli has been killed. This has encouraged Netanyahu and his cohorts to continue the bombing.

Refugees fleeing to United Nations Relief Work Agencies (UNRWA) shelters on cars, scooters and donkey carts were strafed by Israeli air force F16s.

It was hell said a Norwegian doctor working in the camps. Neither the United States nor its closest European ally Britain has said anything constructive. On the contrary, bland statements calling on both sides to exercise restraint were made after both the US and Britain stated loud and clear that Israel has a right to defend itself.

The question is: Defend itself against whom? The Gazans have been blocked on all sides. Gaza is a concentration camp. Its tragedy is that its people want to live free. They cannot.

Adding to their woes is the impotence of the Arab countries, each of which is embroiled in its own miserable condition.

And the Western media has also, as usual, covered up Israeli atrocities. The BBC and CNN are the main culprits. Their allegiance to Israeli interests, which contradicts all honest journalism ethics, has gone beyond the pale of decency.

In fact, they are “open mouthpieces of the Zio-Nazis  of Tel Aviv,” said a Western diplomat.

What can we do to help the people of Gaza? Making personal appeals to our friends in the West and relaying to them pictures of the horrors inflicted on the Palestinians, making our voices heard through the Arab communities in the diaspora and boycotting Israeli goods are some of the things that we can do.

We should strive to let the people of Gaza know that while Arab officialdom is helpless, we as a people are not. So let us not talk but contribute all that we can. However much we do, we cannot wipe away the scars, the trauma and the hurt of the people of Gaza.

As for Israel, the more they continue their murderous policies, stray away from the path of peace and indulge in bloodletting, the more they will become vulnerable.

For what goes around comes around.

~Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

KSA Reunion – March 9-18, 2015

16 July 2014 | 6 comments | Reunions | by

2015 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Reunion

This message is from Ali Baluchi, Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the 2015 Expatriate KSA Reunion.

Due to the overwhelming increase in registration by the retirees and their families for the current 2015 KSA Reunion, we are pleased to announce that the next reunion is advanced two years ahead of normal timing. Now is scheduled for March 11, through March 23, 2019, instead of March 2021. We hope this change will meet the wishes and expectations of some who could delay their participation at this time, due to certain circumstances, to the next one planned for 2019.

We hope, such change will insure some retirees and their families that the Expatriate Reunions will continue, since there is a desire among many retirees of Aramco to visit their so called second home, Saudi Arabia.


Zoya Imran Celebrated Her First Fast Breaking Ceremony in Karachi

16 July 2014 | 7 comments | Graduations & Retirements, Pakistan | by

Zoya Imran

Zoya Imran celebrated her first fasting ceremony on July 11, 2014 in Karachi at Darbar Lawn with all her close relatives, friends and many other common guests of her parents.

Zoya is seven years old and from last year she was insisting to her parents that she wanted to start fasting like them. On her keen interest the parents accepted her request and plan to celebrate the occasion and share it with all close relatives and friends.

The function was very well arranged at the Darbar Lawn in North Nazimabad, Karachi where all close relatives, family members, friends and few of Zoya’s classmates attended the function and wished Zoya a good health and pray that she will be fasting regularly in her future life.

Zoya and Zara

Zoya and her sister Zara are the bright students of Generation’s School and at present is enjoying their summer vacations. Zoya’s father is working for a Multinational Gas Company in the Instrumentation Department.

Zoya is the Grand-daughter of Engr. Iqbal Ahmed Khan, Vice President of Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association (SAEEA) and the eldest daughter of Erum Imran who is the second daughter of Engr. Iqbal Khan.

SAEEA wishes Zoya Imran a very happy first fasting celebration and pray for her bright future and hope that she will keep her parents and Grand-parents always proud, Ameen.


Thousands Respond to Call for iThra Volunteers

16 July 2014 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Saudi Aramco News

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.

29th Saudi Aramco Annuitant’s Reunion

16 July 2014 | 0 comments | Annuitants | by

29th Saudi Aramco Annuitant’s Reunion
September 5-8, 2014

Who is coming to the reunion? Download here

COUNTDOWN!  5-4-3-2-1 for 5-6-7-8 – of September, that is.  If you have not yet reserved your room, NOW is the time to book your room at the Omni Grove Park Inn.  The deadline is August 4th to take advantage of the contracted price per room.  After that, you can still reserve a room, but it will be at a slightly higher price.

Plans are coming together and your hosts & co-hosts urge you to get not only your room reservations in, but also your Registration Form, plus the registration fee. Golf fees and any of the tours you have signed up for should be pre-paid as soon as possible.
Things “to do” while at the Grove Park Inn:

REGISTRATION AREA:  Following check-in, and getting settled in your room, go to the Registration Area located in the Sammons Wing.  Aramco friends will greet you with a smile, hand you a name badge and a tote bag.  There will also be a special gift for everyone.  Sign-up sheets for table seating for the Saturday night Gala Banquet, along with photo appointments beginning Saturday afternoon with the photographer, will be available at the Registration Area.

HOSPITALITY & EXHIBITS AREA:  This is going to be a FUN room with many Aramcons and Vendors coming to show, share & sell some of their wonderful artistic treasurers.  Aetna, MetLife, Express Scripts, Vanguard, Reilly Financial Advisors, Merrill Lynch, Aramco ExPats and more will also be represented.  The Hospitality Room will be open from 8:00am-4:00pm Friday and Saturday.

SUNSET HIKING TRAIL:  This new trail was completed in June and is a little short of one mile.  Starting just below the courtyard outside the hotel entrance, the trail runs along the parking area and down to the Reed Creek area which leads to the Sports Complex, or can be continued uphill along the creek and across historic stone bridges to a lower and upper loop above the road through a peaceful wooded area.  The trail is well marked with signage and directions are available.

OMNI GROVE PARK INN WALKING TOUR:  Tours begin at the Concierge Desk located in the Main Lobby at 10:00am.  A Guide will take you on a very interesting historical walking tour of the Inn.  This tour is free, and is offered Wednesday through Saturday.  Groups are limited to 20; however, if larger groups would like to go together, they will accommodate us.

SPA SERVICES:  Very popular with GPI guests, the Spa measures more than 40,000 sq. ft., but that number only begins to describe the drama of this world-class retreat.  Indoor waterfalls, majestic stone architecture and a European-style pool area set the scene for an array of treatments that range from the familiar (massage and facials) to the exotic (aura imaging).  Not your average day spa, this is a destination to savor, a relaxing enclave of luxury.  Appointments should be made in advance by calling 828-252-2711 ext. 7727.  Be sure to tell them you are with the Saudi Aramco Annuitants Reunion group.

YOGA:  Yoga and mindfulness are interrelated traditions that focus on the holistic wellness of the entire person.  While many think of yoga as postures and breathing techniques, the full practice of yoga provides us with an accessible method of bringing the whole human—body, breath, and mind—into a balanced and healthy state.  These practices work to systematically bring a greater amount of present-moment awareness to all areas of life.  Begin your day with a gentle yoga practice – you’ll be glad you did!  Please indicate your interest on either your Registration Form or the Activity Sheet.  You may pre-pay or pay at the beginning of class.
Instructor:  Teal Chimblo Fyrber

GOLF & GOLF TOURNAMENT:  The golf staff is looking forward to hosting our event this September. The course was designed by the legendary Donald Ross in 1926. From their championship tees, the 6,400-yard, par-70 course is contoured out of the rolling landscape with tree-lined fairways, challenging bunkers and receptive bent greens. Its elevated tee boxes mean you get amazing views with each drive. Those arriving a day or two early are welcome to play golf at a reduced rate.

The course is considered one of the top courses in North Carolina and the golf club was included in Golfweek’s 2014 Best: State by State Courses You Can Play (NC). It is also among the top ten courses 100 years or older according to Golf Digest, though it certainly does not show its age. Masterfully restored in 2001, it reflects the glory and spirit of Donald Ross’ original design.

The Golf Pro Shop has a full line of golf apparel, gear and accessories, from divot tools to umbrellas and golf towels, apparel by Adidas, Greg Norman, Fairway and Greene, Peter Millar and Taylormade. They can custom build a welcome gift package for each player to meet your every need. They are proud partners with Taylormade golf and offer the latest models of Jetspeed and SLDR woods and Speedblade irons as rental sets for their patrons. The staff looks forward to working with our golfers and making this a special and successful event.

TOURS:  As advertised in previous articles, the tours are — Saturday: Trolley tours of Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway Tour.  Sunday:  Two tours going to the Biltmore House.  Thank you to those who have sent in their money for the tours.  Those who are still interested in the tours, please send your money in as soon as possible.

BRIDGE & TENNIS:  It’s nice to see so many of you signing up for these two activities. Refer to the Directory that will be in your welcome bag upon arrival to learn the details of these events.

MOVIE “ARABIA”:  Hugh Renfro, an Aramco retiree, whom many of you met at the reunion in Tucson, is going to show the DVD version of the IMAX documentary “Arabia”. Hugh worked with the McGillivray Freeman Films for four years making the film and is one of the Executive Producers. Check the schedule in your packet to find the location and times.

VIDEO PROJECT:  Joe Allen is a former Aramcon and is working on video projects for the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Program for Strategic Research and Studies in conjunction with the University of Central Florida in Orlando.  The Program was established in 2012 and seeks to advance public awareness and knowledge about the USA-Saudi Arabia relationship. He has begun a project to videotape interviews with former Aramco employees, getting their perspective on the relationship, their experience in the Kingdom and of course, sharing their stories about their time in the Kingdom.  The end project will be a series of videos that will be used by the PMBF Program showing these wonderful memories and sharing them with others.  He would like to videotape short anecdotes and stories during the weekend.  Be thinking about an interesting story you would like to share with him.  For more information about the PMBF Program, take a look at the following link:

As requested, here is the recommended Dress Attire for Evening Dinners:

Friday night:  Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Buffet—Business casual.  (Ladies may wear their Middle Eastern dresses if you would like)
Saturday Night:  ASC Gala Banquet—Formal or Semi-Formal.
Sunday Night:  North Carolina BBQ & Bluegrass. Casual, jeans are acceptable.

Directions from Asheville Airport to GPI: (approximately 18 miles, one way, 25 minutes)

  1. Directions from Asheville Airport to GPI: (approximately 18 miles, one way, 25 minutes)
  2. Cross the bridge and turn left onto I-26 West
  3. Take I-26 West to I-240 East
  4. Follow I-240 East to Exit 5B, Charlotte Street
  5. Turn left at the top of the Exit
  6. Go .7 miles on Charlotte Street
  7. Turn right onto Macon Avenue, travel approximately .8 miles
    The Omni Grove Park Inn is on the left.

Note:  To address a question several have asked regarding whether or not they can attend the reunion if they are not an Aramco “retiree”, the answer is yes. Traditionally, anyone who has worked for the company (and their spouse, and family members) may attend the reunion. Attendance has not been restricted to “retirees.”  As Aramcons, we all look forward to reuniting with friends and co-workers we met while living and working in Saudi Arabia.

“Hafla” is an Arabic word meaning a party or social gathering – the reunion of family and friends.  The Reunion Committee, Hosts, Co-Hosts, Committee Chairmen and Volunteers are all looking forward to seeing everyone soon! Safe Travels!

To access the Omni Grove Park Inn’s landing page for your Room Reservations: Grove Park Inn Reservations

For questions regarding the reunion, contact the Jim and Linda Shearon at or the Judy and Mike Butler at