“Life takes you unexpected places, love brings you home.” – Melissa McClone
With planning well and truly underway for the next KSA Saudi Aramco Annuitants Reunion in March 2019, the big question is “why should I return?”
Saudi Arabia is often described as one of those “unexpected places” that life takes us to - the result of a fortuitous career opportunity, a compulsory posting or the desire for adventure. However, for many expatriates the Kingdom also became ‘home’, the place from which grew a special sense of identity and belonging, of becoming an ‘Aramcon’ or an ‘Aramco Brat’, tags that with the ubiquitous badge number are still proudly carried decades later. Thus, there are any numbers of reasons why you should consider returning, from re-connecting with precious friends and the places you grew and played to seeing how the investment of your skills and knowledge has grown a state-of-the-art global petro-chemical industry whilst impacting the wider development of a sophisticated modern society re-discovering its rich cultural heritage.
The driving force behind the KSA Expatriate Reunions is the indomitable Mr. Ali Baluchi. Baluchi has established a guiding principle for the 2019 Reunion committee and its volunteers, that “We should be committed to ensuring our visitors find and see what he/ she particularly wants about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country of oil, the desert and the camel, bearing in mind that KSA is different now to what he/she previously has known. We want our visitors to enjoy their memories in the context of a modern and civilized country with a deep history.”
Although the Kingdom marches forward towards its 2030 Vision, some things never change and those attending the Reunion are guaranteed the very best of traditional Saudi hospitality throughout. Indeed, hospitality was the area in which the team scored highest during the 2015 Reunion, and we are determined to exceed expectations again in 2019. Your comfort and enjoyment is our highest priority, and we are working towards ensuring it in the following ways:
- We are currently negotiating favorable hotel rates with a number of new hotels of 4 and 5 star-ratings close to the Mall of Dhahran so that we can create an efficient bus transportation system between the hotels and the camp. Details of these will be posted on social media once they are confirmed. You do not have to stay in the suggested hotels but no other provisions will be made for your transportation.
- We will have a ‘Reunion House’ within Dhahran Main Camp which will provide a daily base for all guests. Here you will be able to relax over coffee, connect with old friends and make new ones, catch up on news, wi-fi and access whatever help you might need. This will be ‘Reunion Central’ where there will be a team of willing volunteers to welcome and help you each day.
- For those who might want to stay in Dhahran camp, please be aware that there are no spare accommodations available at present due to community works being undertaken. If you intend to stay with friends or family, your host will need to gain permission in advance from Housing.
- All Reunion attendees will be special guests of Saudi Aramco CEO Mr. Amin Nasser at a special Welcome event.
We have a number of teams currently finalizing an amazing program of trips and visits for guests to enjoy, so please keep up to date with social media and be ready to sign up when the opportunity arises. Some of these trips will have a cost associated for accommodation, guides, transportation etc. but we are endeavoring to keep costs competitive. Overnight trips will include the Asir region, Jeddah and Riyadh as well as a raft of day trips to corporate facilities such as Shaybah and local tourist areas including Al Hasa. When you are planning, however, remember to schedule some ‘down time’ to enjoy more local activities, some shopping or just a walk around the camps to see how things have changed or where you used to live.
Our Events team is working with both the Aramco and wider communities to create a full and varied daily program for you to enjoy. A highlight for all will be a visit to the new King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and the adjacent Energy Center. You will be amazed to see how Al Khobar has changed and developed! And there will still be time to linger over a round of golf, to enjoy browsing a Mall Day in the Ad Diwan or a Gallery in Dammam or to experience a Saudi breakfast and visit to Munira al Ashgar’s home and museum.
So, are you tempted to come and join us in March 2019?
What do you need to do at this stage?
- Stay connected – check our Facebook page regularly (2019 KSA Reunion). Information about registration etc. will first be posted here.
- Check your passport – you will need at least 6 months validity when you enter Saudi Arabia next March. If your passport expires on or before August 2019, you will need a new one.
- Watch for the opening of registration on April 1. At that time you will be able to apply if you have never attended a reunion before and if you are the retiree or direct relative of the retiree (Spouse, child, grandchild). Be sure to locate the retiree’s badge number before then as you will need it to register!
- Registration for second and subsequent attendees will open on October 1.
- There will be a non-refundable $150 registration fee. Some activities will also have associated fees, but all events are optional, so we have a reunion schedule to fit every budget.
- As already indicated, we are arranging discounts on select hotels and airlines, and you will be notified of these as soon as they are ready.
- Dammam is the local airport. At the moment, we are still investigating whether or not visas will allow entry through the causeway from Bahrain.
- We will also be arranging visas, but those can’t be issued until late January or February 2019, or else they will expire before you arrive.
When most of you first went to Saudi Arabia, it was a lifestyle decision. In those early days, you probably never anticipated how much the ancient dust of Arabia would get under your skin and into your heart, to make it a place you love and to which you long to return. We look forward to welcoming you home in 2019.