by Hamza Aref
Published in the December 20, 2017 edition
of The Arabian Sun under Your Voice*
At the causeway heading back to Dhahran, a Bahraini officer asked: “Would you give this man a ride to Saudi?” I welcomed the man into my car, politely asserting: “Please, buckle up.” Surprisingly, the man replied, “Are you from Aramco?” I had nothing on me or in the car to give me away, so I asked him how he knew. “It’s obvious,” he replied. “Aramcons always buckle up!”
“Delightful,” I thought. “Now, that’s brand recognition,” as I reflected on what Aramco is.
What started as a Saudi-American partnership has transformed into a multinational company with over 100 nationalities. The company was built by dreamers such as geologist Max Steineke, whose determination led to the discovery of the Prosperity Well in 1937, just as ships were ready to sail back to the U.S. This tiny outpost in Dhahran grew over time, bringing happiness by providing energy and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs within the company, as well as businesses around it.
For 85 years, second-, third-, and even fourth-generation Saudis and expatriates were born in Aramco hospitals, raised in Aramco-built communities, dined in Aramco halls, were educated in Aramco-built schools, prepared for college in Aramco programs, sent on Aramco scholarships overseas, drove on Aramco-built roads in Aramco vehicles to work at Aramco buildings and facilities, flew around the country on Aramco-operated planes, and retired to an Aramco-funded home, and much more. Simply put, their lives revolved around the company.
This company was made great by the efforts of its multi-talented, diverse, and loyal workforce. Engineers, operators, technicians, administrators, teachers, and leaders of all sorts inspired excellence, as did scientists coding programs and protecting our enterprise, and security officers standing tall to help secure our communities and facilities.
The company stood by its people and their families when their children, parents, or spouses fell ill; it paid their wages on time; provided parks and beaches for them to unwind; and so much more. It built reputable universities, state-of-the-art stadiums, progressive think-tanks, and inspiring cultural centers, and even built homes and infrastructure — all to improve and sustain our way of life.
Aramco is unique in regard to its endless development opportunities. Where else can an individual, without moving companies, work in a gas plant, a think-tank, a security organization, an environmental agency, and in auditing? This is my story, and it can only happen in Aramco.
As Aramcons, we are proud of our accomplishments, as we walk in the footsteps of giants and stand on their shoulders. Look around you: behind these walls and in these corridors, great people have walked — people who made a difference. God willing, the list will go on.
Aramcons are problem solvers not only at rigs, but also builders of homes, hospitals, and most importantly, humans. Aramco is not just buildings and facilities or systems and budgets. It is not even its wells. Aramco is an integral part of our cultural heritage, and the social fabric of our blessed Kingdom that goes back to our unifier and founding father, King ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al Sa’ud. It is the golden river that nourished our vast deserts, lifted our people toward development, and now supports our national vision for the future.
The smiles of children eating cakes, a Bedouin boy putting on his first pair of shoes, a young woman graduating from a top university to become an executive, and retired citizens reminiscing over pancakes. These priceless sights are native to Aramco’s experience. It is an emotional bond manifested in the expression “Mother Aramco” as described by company senior citizens.
This is a testament to deep relations this company has built with people, described in one word: trust. Thus, riyals and halalas cannot determine the value of this progressive institution. In that sense, Aramco is truly priceless!
* Your Voice reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writer, and not necessarily those of the publication.