Four Decades of Credibility

17 May 2015 | 0 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

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

Due to immense technological advancements, the field of journalism has taken on a completely different avatar, as compared to the year 1975 — the very year when the first English-language daily, Arab News, was launched.

We all know that the advent of electronic and subsequently the social media have increased the pace of news coverage manifold. It would not be wrong to say that the rules of the business have been turned upside down. Despite all these developments, Arab News has been able to successfully adapt to the rapid changes. It has always maintained pace with the current trends by continuously successfully latching on to new technologies to enhance its appearance and widen its coverage of local and international news.

Founded by Hisham and Muhammad Ali Hafiz in 1975, Arab News has been successful in continuously expanding its readers’ base within the Kingdom and in the Middle East. It was launched at a time when the economic boom in Saudi Arabia was attracting millions of expatriates to the country.

Those were the days without Internet and its related innovations due to which expatriates had to rely on newspapers coming from abroad days after their actual publication. However, with the emergence of Arab News things started to change and over time it became the most reliable source of information for the people living in the Kingdom and similarly turned into a window for the outside world into Saudi Arabia. Soon after its launch, people outside the Kingdom started considering Arab News a point of reference for matters related to Saudi Arabia.

Arab News not only continued with its role as a source of information but it also became a source of education for many in the Kingdom. Students in the Kingdom particularly non-Arabic speakers started using it as reading material and to gain insight into the global happenings. It provided many new and aspiring writers with a powerful platform to hone their writing skills. And in the process, many were exposed to great experiences such as the sudden shift to live reporting during early 1990s Desert Shield and Desert Storm that liberated Kuwait. The newspaper played a major part in getting timely and accurate news from the warfront. To this day, Arab News is playing a vital part in presenting to the outside world the Saudi perspective with transparency.

For the past four decades, Arab News is continuously playing its important role of objectively representing Saudi Arabia around the globe. It covered many events that took place across the Kingdom. The publication’s coverage of local events in the Kingdom gave its readers a chance to read and learn about the different cultures of different parts of the Kingdom. Its coverage of international events provided people in the Kingdom with updated and accurate information about others.

Arab News has been very vital in bringing together people from all over the world to live and work in Saudi Arabia. Arab News always gives its readers equal opportunity to express their views on various national and international issues. Comments from readers from all over the world are a testimony to the worldwide popularity of Arab News.

Since 1975, Arab News has been tirelessly reporting local, regional and global events. It is always on the move to bring to its readers most up-to-date information from across the world. In the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, Arab News further consolidated its position as one of the most reliable sources of information.

Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Four Decades of Credibility reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.

We Have Liftoff

14 May 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

We Have Liftoff

As a world energy leader, Aramco is committed to promoting industry excellence. The company took a unique approach to exemplify this commitment by hosting a forum that brought together technology leaders from multiple industries. The event encouraged them to look beyond their normal circles to see what others might be doing to solve similar challenges and then seek opportunities for technology collaboration.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided major assistance in the development of the technical program. Both the aerospace and energy sectors operate, at times, in harsh, remote, and often unexplored environments. As such, they are constantly looking for new ways to ensure safety and reliability.

Inside the capsule

More than 500 climbed aboard, joining Aramco, NASA and others representing industry majors such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Cameron, Anadarko, Baker Hughes, DuPont, Dell, Fluor, GE Oil & Gas, Lockheed Martin, and many more. Other industries, such as medical and shipping, were represented as well.

Additionally, faculty, researchers, and students from Rice University, MIT, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Georgia Tech, Baylor College of Medicine, and other institutions participated.

“There are overarching challenges faced by a broad range of sectors — energy, aerospace, medical, chemicals and more,” said Al-Shafei. “This forum is designed to explore crossover technologies and look at winning strategies and innovative corporate cultures that are making a difference.”

The two-day event featured an impressive list of speakers during three general sessions and five concurrent technical tracks, or Deep Dives, that addressed innovation and emerging technologies within the areas of risk management and reliability, robotics and automation, advanced materials, synergy between industries, cybersecurity, and Big Data analysis.

Shaybah: Our own piece of Mars!

“Despite being roughly 600 kilometers away from any city, set in extreme temperatures, and having no infrastructure, Saudi Aramco was able to reliably deliver oil out of the highest sand desert in the world within two years.”

Shaybah: Our own piece of Mars!

Serving as a keynote speaker was Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer at Saudi Aramco, who noted that the oil and gas, aerospace and medical fields are “industries taking science and engineering to the limit.”

Al Khowaiter illustrated his point by telling attendees about the development of the Shaybah Field in Saudi Arabia. “Shaybah was our own piece of Mars!” he said, explaining that it was roughly 600 kilometers away from any city, set in extreme temperatures, and had no infrastructure. Yet, despite those conditions, he said the company was able to “reliably deliver oil out of the highest sand desert in the world within two years.”

Eric van Oort, professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, further talked about innovation, saying the current downturn in the oil and gas industry is creating unique opportunities to improve efficiencies in the construction of both onshore and offshore oil and gas wells. He said Saudi Aramco was setting a good example as being one of the only companies currently expanding its technology in well construction. “I applaud them for doing it,” he said.

Inspiring excellence

The conference also marked the inaugural “Student Award of Excellence” program to inspire university teams to develop a poster presentation based on one of the forum’s focus areas. A group from Texas A&M University received the award for its presentation on enhancing the performance of remotely operated vehicles in subsea and deep space environments using augmented and virtual reality toolsets.

A number of participants commented on their experience, including keynote speaker John Olson, vice president of Space Systems at the Sierra Nevada Corporation, and former senior executive at NASA Headquarters, as well as the Office of Science and Technology Policy at The White House. “In my 26-plus years of speaking on panels at various conferences,” he said, “I’ve had broad exposure to a wide range of event processes and products. From this perspective, I’d like to offer my feedback on this particular event: It was extraordinarily well done.

Mini-Reunion in Savannah

13 May 2015 | 2 comments | Reunions | by

Mini-Reunion in Savannah

Aramco reunions come in all forms and sizes. Whether it’s 500 annuitants gathering in Dhahran or a handful of friends gathering in some convenient and interesting spot of their own choosing, good fun is always had and new memories made.

Every year for some time, five former Aramcon couples have organized their own mini-reunion. This year Schyuler and Phyllis Stuckey, Mel and Paulette Misanko, Wayne and Connie Muncy, Chuck and Patt Peterson and Mark and Chloe Young gathered together for a few days in Savannah Georgia to share fellowship and memories. The Petersons organized the trip to this delightful city, known for its parks and good old southern hospitality.

One morning, they decided to take a walk along the picturesque waterfront. The girls all donned “interesting” hats, remembering how on a previous mini-reunion in San Antonio they had noticed a group of women wearing hand-made hats and deciding it was a great idea. Schuyler Stuckey found hats for everyone at a souvenir shop, coincidentally, in San Antonio. And were they ever noticed. The locals couldn’t help but comment on the girls’ choice of haberdashery, and the comments received were universally positive. Now their problem is going to be, how will they top that at their next mini-reunion? The wheels are no doubt already turning in all of their heads. AramcoExPats.com looks forward to reporting on their next year’s fashion statement.

The Petersons picked out a lovely guest house and carriage house for everyone to call home while in Savannah. Wayne and Connie Muncy are in charge of the group’s mini-reunion in 2016. They have a major challenge on their hands trying to meet or match the job Chuck and Patt Peterson did this year. But, as typical ex-Aramcons, they’re always up for a challenge and will no doubt come up with something to make everyone happy. And the beat goes on…

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A Case of Missed Opportunities

13 May 2015 | 3 comments | Opinions & Editorials | by

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

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a short video of the late Iranian King Mohammad Reza Shah Pehlavi during his visit to Saudi Arabia around 40 years ago. The late Saudi leader, King Faisal, had received the Iranian monarch. The short video is a testimony to the depth of ties and mutual respect the two countries had toward one another.

It is a historical fact that during the Shah’s rule, Iran and Iranians enjoyed great respect around the world. Prior to the revolution in 1979, Iran was considered a key global player with great ambitions to become a leading industrial nation and a vibrant economy on the world’s map. Iran’s economy was booming long before even the coining of the term “Asian Tigers.”

Unfortunately, by forcing the Shah into exile, Iran simply chose to change the path. To many Iranians, clocks stopped ticking on Feb. 1, 1979 — the day Ayatollah Khomeini stepped out of the jet that had transported him all the way from France. Subsequently, Iran plunged into chaos and many top Iranian brains were killed, jailed or simply left Iran forever. Iran itself condemned to a state of global isolation. After the Shah’s departure, religious mullahs ruled Iran and the country’s name was changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ironically, people with a good grip on Iranian affairs say that the revolution did not gain mass popularity as the outside world had been led to believe. Even the American hostage crisis that lasted 444 days was not planned at all. At that time there was no social media. The three major US news networks had organized special day and night transmissions about Iran.

Following the revolution, the mullahs promised more stability, social equality and eradication of poverty and corruption from the country. It, however, later turned out that Iranians had been better off under Shah’s rule. Sadly, since the day Iran emerged as an Islamic republic on the world’s map, instead of forging friendlier ties with all the Gulf states, it started threatening the security and stability of these countries.

By doing so, Iran missed a golden opportunity to become one of the most prosperous countries of the world. At around that same time, the Gulf countries were witnessing a boom in their economies and Iran could have managed to present itself as a very attractive place for all sorts of investments.

Undoubtedly, Iran has a very rich cultural history. During those days, the aviation industry of the world was also blooming thus boosting tourism industry. Many countries exploited the opportunity and gained economically by promoting their respective tourist sectors. Iran could have become a major tourist attraction due to its many archeological sites and with the help of a relatively advanced infrastructure and pleasant climatic conditions.

At that time Tehran airport was more ready for expansion in transit capacity and could have become the connecting hub between the East and the West at a time when Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha airports were not even known by aviation experts.

As a matter of fact, many former Saudi Aramco employees from all nationalities still talk about the Dhahran- Shiraz flights they used to take to spend part of their vacations. In addition to being rich in oil and gas reserves, Iran is famous for its Persian rugs, saffron, pistachio, caviar and many agricultural products that it could export.

Instead of getting closer to its neighboring Gulf countries, Iran tried to play on the sectarian differences. Iran should have known better because Iran’s population is very diverse. It is composed of many ethnic groups such as Persians, Kurds, Lurs, Balochs and many others. So, it is not in Iran’s interest to play on minorities or groups of different religious sects.

As we all know that Iranians born after the 1979 revolution never experienced life under the Shah and most likely are never allowed to talk about his son Reza Pahlavi. But Iran is seeing movements within that are using the new media to show life in Iran before and after 1979. Just like when Khomeini used the cassette tapes to talk to the Iranians 36 years ago to incite protests and riots. In the past, there was a law against the circulation of portraits of the Shah and his family.

Writing is also prohibited about the Shah, his wife or his son. However, with the advent of the social media, it is impossible to hide the past glory of Iran under the Shah.

Now, many Iranians are following reports about Reza, who was the crown prince when he left Iran in 1979.

Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. A Case of Missed Opportunities reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.

Driving Toward Operation at Sadara

13 May 2015 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Driving Toward Operation at Sadara

Executives of Saudi Aramco and Dow Chemical toured the nearly completed Sadara complex in Jubail on April 30 to inaugurate the first six plants and control rooms, using the opportunity to be updated by major contracting partners on the work that remains to be completed.

Collaboration has been the hallmark of the Sadara project from the beginning, with Saudi Aramco and its joint venture partner, Dow Chemical Co., pairing up their respective expertise in hydrocarbon production and refining, and high-value chemical production. Collaboration has also been crucial to the construction phase, a point made during individual meetings between Saudi Aramco’s Downstream senior vice president Abdulrahman F. Al Wuhaib, Dow Chemical’s CEO Andrew Liveris and the major construction and engineering contractor CEOs held during their tour.

Abdulrahman F. Al Wuhaib

“Making the Sadara vision a reality is down to all of us in the Sadara family.”

Al Wuhaib said that the meeting came at a time when the Sadara project is more than 90% complete, with a notable 1 million man-hours of planning, 9 million man-hours of engineering, and nearly 350 million man-hours of construction.

“Let me thank you again for the tangible advances that have been made since we were here last time,” said Al Wuhaib. “But let me be clear that the hardest work still lies ahead, and the world is watching. Let’s use the power of partnership to push for the finish line without compromising safety or quality.

Accompanying Al-Wuhaib on the tour were Chemicals vice president Warren Wilder and other executives from Downstream.

Sadara is not just another project; it is the cornerstone of the company’s downstream strategy, of becoming a leading global chemicals player and adding value through the Kingdom’s hydrocarbon resources.

At more than 90% complete, the Sadara complex is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest integrated chemical complex ever built in a single phase, with more than 3 million tons of capacity per year. Sadara will be the first chemical complex to crack naphtha in the Gulf region, which will enable the manufacturing of a diverse number of products never previously produced in the Kingdom.

Sadara’s full value will be seen in an economic ripple effect of industrial clusters, value parks, and the development of the knowledge-based research, engineering, and service firms to support them. While Sadara itself is set to employ more than 3,000 people, it is expected to also create economic opportunities for manufacturing and service businesses that would generate an additional 15,000 jobs in the Jubail area.