Left to Right - Marjorie Tracy, Bill Tracy, Hugh Renfro, Bob Norberg, Howard Norton, Mary Norton, Tim Barger, Lois Wolfrum, Joseph Mahon, John Duke Anthony, Greg Dowling and Hasan Al-Hasan (IPR)
On Sunday, October 19 at 8:30 p.m., a group of Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) Retirees and their escorts arrived at King Fahad International Airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, for the second leg of a nostalgic visit to a country they each knew and loved for many years. The “Memory Lane Tour” group had already spent two days in Riyadh during which time they were received as guests of Ali Al-Naimi, the Saudi Oil Minister.
At the airport to meet the group were Hasan Jawad Al-Hasan and Art Jones from Saudi Aramco’s International Public Relations organization, Kyle Pakka from the “Arabian Sun”, the weekly employees’ publication issued by Saudi Aramco’s Public Relations Department, and Vicci Thomson, joint creator with her son, Russell, of the Saudi Aramco expatriates website, Aramco ExPats http://www.aramcoexpats.com/default.aspx.
Members of the Memory Lane Tour are Timothy J. Barger, Gregory J. Dowling, Joseph A. Mahon, Frances M. Meade, Richard Meade, Robert Norberg, Howard Norton, Mary Norton, Hugh L. Renfro, Marjorie Tracy, William Tracy Jr., Lois M. Wolfrum, and their escorts, Dr. John Duke Anthony and Vaughan Fitzpatrick.
The party was taken to Hamilton House, Saudi Aramco’s executive guesthouse in the Dhahran community residential area. After a delicious light dinner of soup and salad, the group retired for the night in preparation for a full day of activities on Monday October 20.
Saudi Aramco maintains Hamilton House for distinguished visitors and guests. Its clientele has included kings and other heads of state, prime ministers, senators, congressmen, ambassadors, members of the nobility of many nations, university presidents, eminent scholars, and leaders of industry and finance. The establishment is comfortable and attractively furnished. The pleasant lounge is adorned over the fireplace with a picture of the late Lloyd Hamilton, the talented and greatly loved negotiator of the company’s concession in Saudi Arabia.
Abd Allah S. Al-Saif joined the company in 1960 and in 1965 was selected for the company-sponsored college degree program, graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 1970 with a BS in petroleum engineering. He advanced through a number of petroleum engineering and operating positions and was appointed Vice President responsible for Producing in 1982. He also served as Vice President of Manufacturing, Supply and Transportation, Vice President of Corporate Planning, and Vice President of Crude Oil Sales and Marketing. In 1998 Al-Saif was elected a member of Saudi Aramco's Board of Directors. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. In his current position as SVP, Exploration & Producing, he is responsible for the company’s exploration, petroleum engineering, oil production and processing activities.
After the Welcome Reception, the group was taken on a tour of the Dhahran residential area, including the Third Street School and the Kings Road Recreation area, which includes the library, theater and Little League baseball, field.
While visiting the Dhahran Recreation Library, Tim Barger gave a short talk about his book, Out in the Blue: Letters from Arabia 1937-1940. The library is well stocked with the latest newspapers, magazines and books. It also has an excellent audiovisual room and a good selection of music CDs and audio books. Regular exhibitions are held which have included jewelry, textiles and ceramics. Librarian, Mrs. Marjorie Tracy, enjoyed looking through the shelves of books.
Some members of the group had happy memories of the Kings Road Baseball Field where they played Little League baseball. Many childhood memories were being discussed among the retirees.
The group also made a visit to the Community Heritage Center, located opposite the Library. Open six days a week, this interesting museum and exhibition center is a record of Saudi Aramco’s history and accomplishments. The current exhibition features Saudi Arabian Traditional costumes. Previous ones have included “Forty-eight Years of Theater in Dhahran” and “Saudi Arabian Cities and their Treasures”. An audio visual room, where films from the company’s archives run continuously, features a wall treatment inspired by designs from King ‘Abd Al-Aziz’s summer palace in Riyadh. One of the gallery’s most prominent features allows visitors to take an imagine journey along an absorbing and thoughtfully developed Time Line that spans the breadth and depth of the company’s history, with early photographs that help preserve glimpses of the dynamic events that propelled its growth. In the gallery’s reading area current company and regional publications covering an extensive range of topics including natural history, art, gardening, Saudi handicrafts and antiquities, can be browsed. The gallery has a Middle Eastern courtyard where visitors can relax and enjoy the sound of a refreshing fountain whilst sitting beneath a canopy of sweet jasmine, surrounded by trellis of bougainvillea and a painted design of ornamental columns.
Lunch was held at House 19, the former home of Saudi Aramco’s Chief Executive Officers and now an executive recreation area, and hosted by Abdullah Jum’ah, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco and a member of the Saudi Aramco Board of Directors. Mr. Jum’ah gave a welcoming address stating that Saudi Aramco is proud of their heritage with America and what we are accomplishing today is testimony to the past and our strong association with America.
Mr. Jum’ah was appointed President of the company in 1995. Born in al-Khobar in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia in 1941, he studied at the American University in Cairo and then at the American University of Beirut, where he was awarded a BA in political science in 1968. He joined Saudi Aramco's Government Affairs organization in April 1968 and in 1972 was assigned to Public Relations as general supervisor of publications and promoted to department manager in 1975. Jum'ah completed the Program for Management Development at Harvard in 1976. His career with the company then took him to Power Systems where he was closely involved with the development of the Saudi Consolidated Electric Company (SCECO) in the Eastern Province. He was elected Vice President, Power Systems, in 1981 and subsequently served as Vice President, Employee Relations and Training, Vice President, Government Affairs, and Senior Vice President, Industrial Relations, with responsibility for the corporation's Medical Services, Community Services, and Employee Relations and Training. In October 1991 he was named Senior Vice President, International Operations. A year later he was promoted to Executive Vice President, International Operations, responsible for all international sales and marketing, the development and coordination of joint ventures abroad, and for overseeing the operations of Vela International Marine Ltd. and other subsidiary companies. In 1994 Jum'ah was appointed a member of Saudi Aramco's Board of Directors. He has also served on the boards of Aramco Services Company (USA), Saudi Refining, Inc. (USA), Motiva Enterprises (USA), S-Oil Corporation (Korea), Petron Corporation (Philippines), Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries S.A. (Greece) and Saudi Petroleum International, Inc. (USA).
Following lunch there was a rest period, after which the group went to the Saudi Aramco Oil Exhibit where Moneer A. Al-Sayed gave the delegation a tour of the oil exhibit and we watched a magnificent 3D film entitled Saudi Aramco – Energy to the World. The film can be presented in 16 different languages.
At 5:00 p.m. a visit was made to Munira Ashgar’s Gallery in Ar-Rabiya. Mrs. Ashgar, the wife of retired former Saudi Aramco Senior Vice President, Saud A. Al-Ashgar, has created a wonderful museum in the grounds of her house consisting of Saudi Arabian artifacts she has been collecting for a number of years.
The day closed with a wonderful dinner at the home of Samia and Mohammed Saeed Al Ali in Ar-Rabiya.