1933 Saudi Arabia grants a concession to the Standard Oil Company of California. This was a shocker, American oil beat out Iraqi and British bids.
1944 after a host of failures and lack of success, Oil is finally found at a well called
"Dammam No. 7" The company continues on and the name is changed to the Arabian American Oil Company.
1988: By Royal decree the name is officially changed to the Saudi Arabian Oil Company. (Saudi Aramco)
For more info: and for where I got my info
Aramco is the largest and most valuable company of all time. It is privately held It is westernized, has offices in multiple countries including the US and is head-quarted in Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It employs a great number of American's and Brits. Everything from custodial staff to Oil workers, to medical staff, to Managers. The main compound in Dhahran is huge and encloses a fully functional hospital very similar to a midsize US Army/US Navy hospital in the states. The place might not be perfect, but it's as close to the US as you're going to get without getting on an airplane.
Most Americans might not know who the hell you're talking about when you say Aramco...but ask a Texan or Louisianan or Mississippi Oil Worker and the name immediately brings up the image of lucrative salaries, Middle east travel, offshore work and good retirement benefits that are almost unmatched in the US oil industry.
Women can drive on the compound, even though they can't drive in the Kingdom.
Abayas are not required for wear on the compound
Western Style bathing suits are approved for use on the Aramco Private Beach, which also happens to rent Hobie Cats. How do I know this? Well for one thing its common knowledge, and for a second thing many of my naughtier students, even a few in Riyadh claim to have made beach spy trips to check out women from an area that overlooks the beach. Did they really though? I don't know, yes, no, maybe so. The way they describe the beach is as a topless, alcohol fueled near lesbian beach party. I seem to remember watching that "movie" when I was younger, but true or not, the beach and its famed recreation sites do exist as do the authorization of western style swimwear (think Bikini's, not Burkini's).
They have a Golf course and it is lighted and commonly used at night due to the 12 hours shifts and the heat of the day.
They have Libraries and Schools
They have Motorcycle riding and Scuba Diving associations as well as organizations dedicated to just about any hobby or interest you can find. They even have a radio station...Its the only one I listen too!
No, they don't have churches. To my knowledge, the only church services you can find in Saudi Arabia are on the grounds of the different nations embassies, and they are just regular buildings converted for the service for the day.
Even my students are encouraging me to go work for Saudi Aramco...I always respond "what? Are you really that scared of next years tests?"
Ok, so now that you know a little bit about Aramco, lets get on with the day. The tour had been arranged to showcase SAMSO, the medical component of the organization. Saudi Hospitals range from total crap to excellent, the Aramco facility hits in the excellent range and is only open to critical nearby cases and Aramco employees. Many of my students have fathers that work for Aramco and have therefore been to the facility before. Many students only went to catch a glimpse of "boobs", yes I'm afraid 3 students told me that, which probably means at least 10 were thinking it.
My best students, in all levels already knew the standards they would be held to if they ever wanted to work there...my worst students already knew they would never meet the standards to work there. The trip was most beneficial to my mediocre students, my borderline students, my students who might stand a chance if they pull their heads out of their ass and start studying. Those students maybe saw something they want to be a part of. Who knows.
In conclusion, it was a nice change to the normal pace of the day, it was nice to talk to a woman, covered with Abaya and Niquab though she was, the sound of a woman's voice and laugh is an amazing thing. I'm glad that I got to see the place, I'm glad that we managed to show some of our borderline students a different world, and it definitely isn't off the chart as far as prospects go. BUT sorry guys, I think you're stuck with me for at least another year, the college isn't perfect, but the money's good, the work isn't that hard, and there are too many students that I want to see succeed to just up and quit. However, if any of you have the wasta to get that guy in Riyadh to stop disliking me and issue me a Visa as he as issued every other American a Visa, please do!
P.S. I did have a few students act like idiot children, a few just began wandering off, peaking in rooms where they didn't belong, talking during others questioning, sitting in a posture of indifference and boredom during the short presentation. I originally thought about making this entire post about them and how disrespectful these maybe 10% were. It then occurred to me that I knew these students before the trip, they are always a problem, and they didn't act any different than the 10% in the US would have acted. However, the problem students in the US are usually confined to High School, not College. They're the lazy's, the whiners, the cry babies, the sally's, the babies who never got off their mothers teat. They want it so they should get it right? Whats funny about these guys is that unless they are unnaturally lucky, they will eventually have misfortune in their life. They will eventually meet a bigger asshole who doesn't like them, they will eventually fall, they will eventually be revealed for what they are...Then completely failing to take responsibility at all for their own actions, they will fall to their knees and ask God why he has forsaken them...all the time failing to understand that God has not forsaken them, that he is just as present in their lives as he has always been, but that God granted man freewill, and they used their freewill to be rude, disrespectful, hurtful, and act superior to their fellow man. Sorry guys, but you reap what you sow, and Karma's a bitch!