The driving in Dammam is comparable to an American city in a hurry while Riyadh is something more akin to a bunch of drunken rednecks who just won the lottery driving racecars around. So I enjoyed my time in Dammam to say the least, Wow, what a city. Absolutely beautiful, stayed at a hotel by the beach, went for a 2 mile walk along a well maintained and clean waterfront. Watched families fishing in the evening, even prayer was done by the sea. Everybody I talked to in Dammam had nothing but great things to say about it and really went out of their way to help us. The city has a reputation of being quite a bit more liberal than Riyadh, and I could clearly see it. Our hotel was only 60 km from Bahrain (and therefore a night life, beer and a movie theater), 20km from the Saudi Aramco facility and golf course...All that and a bag of chips if you ask me, whats not to love?
Staff and Students were good, I was wrong to be apprehensive, they have an extremely high level of competence and while they may not have had all the hands on experience and training that I would like to have seen, their theoretical knowledge base was excellent and their English was very good. I look forward to visiting that campus again, and if I get the the opportunity, would take an assignment their in a heartbeat! It helps that the Dean put is in an incredible hotel and took us to dinner our final night at a seafood restaurant that surpassed even my most hopeful expectations for luxury. We tried to figure up the price, and we guess he paid between 500-750 USD for the 5 of us. What am I going to do, how the hell am I expected to go back to being treated like some schmo on an ambulance when I get back to the states.
I told Kay that maybe I could get assigned to Dammam, or after this contract look for a job in Dammam and when she finishes school she could come sit by the beach with me and study for the bar with beautiful weather and no hassles for a couple of months...that conversation went quite well, and I'm dead serious when I tell you that the thought of becoming a permanent Expat has done more than just cross my mind at a jog once or twice...It's running marathons. So who knows. I do know this though, if you're thinking of working here and your employer gives you Dammam as an option, you would be smart to grab it up.