In 2002, facing imminent repatriation back to the U.S. and wondering how, after so many years, I could stay connected to everything and everyone I had grown to love during my time in Arabia with Saudi Aramco, I formed the notion of creating a website dedicated to living and working in the Kingdom and named it AramcoExPats.com.
Initially, I imagined there were hundreds of people just like me with an equally strong desire to stay connected with a rich and joy-filled past. I was wrong. There weren't hundreds, there were thousands of such people. I didn't know it at the time, but I know it now: The need I perceived was far greater and more widespread than anything I ever imagined. In the 15 years that have since passed, our readership has grown to where we now have newsletter subscribers in over 200 countries and count millions of unique visits to our website every year. For this, I must thank all of you, our devoted readers.
Early on, Aramco ExPats connected with annuitants like you who became the foundation of our online community. Since then, we have celebrated countless retirements, anniversaries, and birthdays. We have recognized as well the lives and accomplishments of succeeding generations, of our children and of our children's children, reporting on thousands of graduations, engagements, weddings, and births. We have reflected on the lives of colleagues who have passed away with a mixture of sadness at the loss and joy of having once known them as friends.
We have been privileged to help you share your stories of the good ol' days in Arabia. Aramco annuitants worldwide have learned that the place to keep track of annuitant reunions, social events, and luncheons is Aramco ExPats. We strive constantly to get the word out to as many people as possible about upcoming events with the goal of helping annuitants reconnect. Knowing what born globe-trotters annuitants are, we created a Travel Club to help readers organize their see-the-world activities. In that vein, we are counting the days until the next Aramco Hafla Annuitants Reunion scheduled for Austin, Texas next year. Look for regular updates in our weekly newsletter and on our website.
We recognize that Aramco annuitants make up a special, highly-qualified cadre of good will ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco, and the Saudi people. We are constantly seeking new and better ways to tell the world about the story of the Kingdom and its people. We established "Pipeline" and "In Search of Oil," two resources that serve as sources of current Saudi Aramco news while recounting the rich history of Saudi Aramco and the people who built the company into what it is today: A powerful global force for the betterment of the Saudi people and the world.
We regularly highlight Aramco publications such as "AramcoWorld" magazine and regularly include op-ed news from "The Arabian Sun" to provide fresh insights into current KSA issues. Six years ago, we introduced the Speakers Bureau, providing presentation materials to assist anyone who wishes to give talks and presentations about Saudi Arabia.
News about Aramco ExPats spread quickly to Saudi Aramco employees, who soon became part of our shared online community. We posted camp events and current news on our website and created the Aramco ExPats Forum so newcomers could ask questions and get reliable answers from experienced Aramcons already living in camp. We sought out boarding schools, retirement financial advisors, and places to eat, shop, sleep, and play, and many of them became Aramco ExPats sponsors, helping us improve our product while providing our readers with valuable information they can use in real life. All the while, an abundance of stories of the past replete with innumerable old photographs have provided a vivid backdrop for portraying the lives of those fortunate people who once lived and worked, or are currently living and working, in the Kingdom as members of the Saudi Aramco family.
In another fortuitous development, Aramco Brats began joining the Aramco ExPats community soon after its birth. With an interest in staying connected to the place where so many friend and family adventures took place, children of Aramcons check in regularly to see what new stories are being told and to enjoy posts from friends who have graduated, married, or had children. As proud children of Aramcons, many of our readers look forward eagerly to Aramco Brat reunions organized by Aramco-Brats.com.
Thanks to the determined efforts of the Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association (SAEEA) - Pakistan, our community has grown to include many ex-Aramco employees from that great nation. SAEEA members are actively working to foster connections through monthly meetings and organized reunions. Employees hailing from Pakistan look to SAEEA to keep themselves apprised of important activities of particular interest to them. Aramco ExPats is proud to offer its support to SAEEA and its members.
With so many poignant stories being shared over the years, it comes as no surprise that the Aramco ExPats community has expanded even more to include people considering working for Saudi Aramco. What better way to gain an understanding of what living and working in Arabia is like than sifting through hundreds of heartfelt stories told by people who once called the Kingdom home? The Aramco ExPats Forum has become a valuable source of information for anyone planning on moving to the Kingdom to begin a career with Aramco.
In its first 15 years, Aramco ExPats has constantly evolved to the point where today it serves a community of many thousands of people from all over the world. Our readership is comprised of a vibrant, multi-faceted community of expatriates, former employees, annuitants, brats, and potential employees of Saudi Aramco together with people drawn to our website by their curiosity about Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco, and myriad other interests. It's amazing to see how far we've come and how much we've grown in just a decade and a half. We look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with you, our valued readers, contributors, and members of our community. Thank you for your support and encouragement.