by Scott Baldauf
House of Jasmine Boosts Quality of Life
Dalip A. Dwarika, right, and his family couldn’t wait for the Jasmine House Project to be completed. “It’s like a breath of fresh air,” said his wife, Hema, as they recently dined at the lunchroom of the recently completed facility.
‘Udhailiyah — The smallest and most remote of Saudi Aramco’s residential communities for families, ‘Udhailiyah is famed as the “Flower City.” Here, individuals and families make tight bonds with each other — bonds that are strengthened at community activities, sports events, and special celebrations.
So when the Jebel Complex, with its dining hall, function hall, library, and bowling alley that served as a central meeting place burned down in 2015, it was an especially difficult blow to the community.
Community Services recently celebrated the inauguration of a brand new community center, renamed House of Jasmine, and with that, the ‘Udhailiyah community has turned a corner. With a new slate of dining options, upgraded entertainment and conference hall facilities, a recently restocked library, a new six-lane bowling alley, and vastly improved safety features, ‘Udhailiyah has gone far beyond the good old days and taken a giant leap forward with the best community center in the company.
Mohammed M. Al Khamsan, administrator for ’Udhailiyah Community Services, said his team understood the mission was not only to replace the previous facility, but to build a complex that would bind the community together for decades to come.
“’Udhailiyah is far away from any other community, so it has to be self-sufficient,” Al Khamsan said. “If you drive to Dhahran, it takes two hours. If you drive to al-Hasa, it takes 45 minutes. So we felt people deserved to have options for food and entertainment. In the design phase, we made sure the facility would be attractive, but with safety measures that not only met but exceeded company safety standards.”
On Jan. 23, the new House of Jasmine was inaugurated with Nabeel A. Al-Jama’, acting service line head of Operations and Business Services; Abdulhakim A. Al-Gouhi, vice president of Industrial Services; Nabeel Afaleg, acting executive director of Community Services; and Aali M. Al-Zahrani, executive director of Safety and Industrial Security, as well as other members of management attending.
The new library facility has numerous study tables, computers, a business center, and a children’s room where arts and crafts and story time sessions are conducted. Currently, it houses 10,000 books, with plans to grow circulation to more than twice that size.
Nestled in the heart of the community just steps away from the school, the House of Jasmine is designed to be the central gathering place for this community of approximately 2,000 residents. The Lotus Restaurant, a multi-cuisine restaurant with a seating capacity for 200 people, offers a rotating menu of foods cooked by chefs specializing in Middle Eastern, Indian/Pakistani, and Western and Latin American cuisines, as well as fresh grilled barbecue.
Next door, the Falcon E-Diner, which can accommodate 68 people, offers fast food options such as pizza, hamburgers, and sandwiches, which are popular with the younger crowd. For those wanting greater variety, there are vendors offering Khaleeji (Gulf) specialties, a specialty tea shop, a health food restaurant, and even an eatery featuring Indian street food. Each of these restaurants offers customers the option of ordering meals in advance — either through their computers or through mobile phone apps.
“When you live in a community as remote as ‘Udhailiyah, people can’t just drive outside the camp to find other restaurant options,” said Abdulaziz A. Alzamil, supervisor for food services with Community Services. “We ask our vendors to submit menus in advance to make sure they include the most popular dishes.
Across the hall, Game Time, a popular hangout, features billiards, table tennis, foosball, and virtual reality games. Down the hall is Switch, a six-lane bowling alley. For major functions, Fayrouz Hall offers a large multipurpose room for business meetings, formal dinners, and gatherings for ‘Udhailiyah’s many self-directed groups.
Robert Rooney, a supervisor with Recreation, speaks of the light and airy library with 10,000 books, numerous study tables, and a computer/business center. “This facility has a children’s room with weekly times for arts and crafts and storytime,” Rooney said. “We currently have 10,000 volumes, but there are plans to grow back to a circulation of 25,000.”
Safety at The Core
Outdoor seating greets visitors to ‘Udhailiyah’s Jasmine House, where community groups have been eagerly planning events for the upcoming year. The facility is designed to be the central gathering place for approximately 2,000 residents.
From the outset of the project, the new complex was designed with the highest possible safety standards, said Mohammad S. Al Qarad, compliance supervisor for Community Services at ‘Udhailiyah.
“The House of Jasmine was created with an intensive pacifier system with the most stringent safety codes,” Al Qarad said. “We took the British and the American standards, and the ISO for fire prevention and suppression, and we exceeded them.”
Every material in the building is either fire rated or fire retardant, Al Qarad added. Each room exceeds the number of exits, emergency lights, and sprinklers required, and each room is compartmentalized, so that if a fire starts, it will be contained and then extinguished. Even the alarm system has been modified to provide spoken instructions to evacuate calmly, with flashing light systems for the hearing impaired.
The Lotus Restaurant, a multi-cuisine restaurant with a seating capacity for 200 people, offers a rotating menu of foods cooked by chefs specializing in Middle Eastern, Indian/Pakistani, and Western and Latin American cuisines, as well as fresh grilled barbecue.
Perla V. Isidro, a staff Human Resources administrator with 33 years at the company, said she remembers living at ‘Udhailiyah before there was a dining hall. Now, in her first lunch at the Lotus Restaurant, she said she is “very impressed with the excellent food, and the bright and modern facilities.” She said that ‘Udhailiyah is a small town, and the House of Jasmine is the center of the community. “We are all family here. Even if we don’t know someone, we say hello anyway.”
Nearby, Nicci Huysamen, an executive secretary for the Southern Area Gas Production general manager, and Paula Frederick, a secretary for the South Ghawar Producing manager, are also grateful to see the dining hall back up and running.
“From a point of view that we didn’t have this place for a long time, we appreciate it so much more,” said Huysamen.
“It’s like coming back to a family,” Frederick added.
In the Falcon E-Diner snack bar, Hawiyah Gas Plant field supervisor Dalip A. Dwarika and his family are enjoying a lunch of sandwiches and French fries that they ordered using the new digital request system at the door. “We couldn’t wait for this project to finish,” said Dwarika’s wife, Hema. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”
“The community is small, so this is like a central meeting place,” Dwarika added. “This is a nice cohesive environment, and the facility has a lot of protocols for teaching kids safety, responsibility, and accountability.”
The Event Planning and Marketing Team, consisting of team leader Maleeha A. Khan (Ahmad), Mohammad Al Majed, and Rand Al-Khayal, are ecstatic about the options available to organize and host community gatherings at the House of Jasmine. Plans are already in the works for more than 50 themed events this year alone at the Lotus Restaurant, Al Fayrouz Hall, and the outdoor garden and outdoor theater areas with its jumbo screen.
The Happiness Team, with team leader Syed Mohsin Rizvi, Duaa Al Nufaiai, and Malak Jafar, are equally eager to continue to provide customer centric training to the front liners who are the touch points between Community Services and ‘Udhailiyah residents and employees.
The team monitors positive feedback and suggestions from all users of the House of Jasmine by analyzing customer satisfaction and closing the communication gap between Community Services and customers.
A Satisfying Conclusion
In the words of Mohammad Fashkhi: “As a maintenance engineer working for ‘Udhailiyah Community Services, I was responsible for the completion of the House of Jasmine construction and readiness of operation in a safe manner. After completion of this mammoth project, during the official opening of the House of Jasmine, it was wonderful to see our customers and end users laughing, eating, and playing, and enjoying something I had a hand in bringing to reality,” he said.
— The Arabian Sun: March 4, 2020 | Vol. LXXV, No. 10