It's been a hectic week since the last update, so here's a quick (I hope) summary...
First of all - HOUSE IS SOLD!!! A huge relief! Now to continue the selling / pack up process. After moves from Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Edmonton I think Lisa has this down to a science. Hope the new owners have a respect for the fun and shenanigans that have happened in that house!
How's the new job?
It's been a busy week settling in but everyone's been great! I spent an hour or so each day with the key people, including having my 2 direct bosses take me to lunch. A lot of the discussion was around the customs and culture to help me adapt and 'get it right' in training. For example, if you're walking to a door, the person on the right always goes first. Lots of other cool things, including how the Saudis have tons of respect for Americans that's a story over a beer someday.
Our team does the "core" training for selected Saudi Aramco employees. This is built on 7 modules that we teach to them to provide a basic understanding of Leadership and self-improvement.
The certification process is awesome. This upcoming week, I'll sit in a course called "Needs Based Coaching". The following week, I teach 1 section of it and the original facilitator gives me feedback on passing or "not yet". Once I pass, then I teach a 2nd section the following week. After I've passed all 4 sections, then I need to pass the entire course to be "certified" to teach it. This continues for all 7 modules.
Here are some pics from work, including a couple of the many (over 25) training rooms they have. Lots of corporate logo'ing, including Kleenex boxes! Wow.
Each compound has it's own golf course. The Ras Tanura course (where I work) has a sand course that is free - here are some pics
Dhahran has a professional quality course that looks awesome - here are some pics of it
The Family Life at Saudi Aramco
It looks like quite an amazing place to bring up your kids! Families seem so happy and I've chatted with many that have told me about the experience. Aramco includes schooling on camp for kids to grade 8. Parents can also elect to send them to the British or US schools in town and will bus them for free.
One lady I talked to said her kid just got back from a 2 week spring break 'field trip' to Australia. Wow! We would go 15 minutes to Pine Cree!
There are tons of activities for kids on camp - beach, softball, soccer, swimming, etc. There are many rec centres where they can play games and video games.
Interesting note - Once they get to grade 9, parents can send the kids to boarding schools ANYWHERE in the world and Aramco will not only pay for their schooling, housing, etc, but also pays for trips for parents/kids to visit. Nice!
Here are some pics of 'kid stuff':
Finding a Home to live
So here's how the housing works...if we were to live on an Aramco camp, we would be subsidized and pay $300-500 per home each month depending on size. They are full so we need to find a non-Aramco compound. The amount they give you is based on # of kids. Having no kids, we get 175,000 Saudi Riyals, which is about $47K US. They pay to us to pay the accommodation for a year. Not bad, as that includes electricity, water, cable, and Internet.
Going to see one more on Sunday, but right now it's narrowed down to 2. We want to find something with lots of activities to keep Lisa busy, like personal trainers, pilates, yoga, etc.
The compounds are gated communities with security at the front gates - they check everyone's ID, the vehicle hood, and even under the vehicle. Crazy! They have tennis courts, pools, hot tubs, gyms, spas, barber shops/salons, BBQ areas, nail places, bowling alleys, games rooms, squash courts, restaurants, and the one has 3 private beaches. Many offer maid services as well. Here are some pics:
This one is located in Al Khobar (71km south of Jeff's work).
This is located in the Fanateer location in the north part of Jubail (96km north of Jeff's work) near the 'corniche' (beach area) that has lots of shops/restaurants. Pretty tough to beat the view from that gym...unless it was on a patio with a beer in your hand!
Thursday I get into work to find out that my Iquama is ready! Best email of my life!!!
This is the golden ticket that allows to get on with life!
I bus into Dhahran to grab it and then apply for my multi-entry/exit Visa so I can go in and out of the country, like to Bahrain (for a beer...soon!)
That visa should be here within a couple weeks.
Then off to the security building to get my temporary ID switched to a permanent ID.
Then off to the bank to open a Saudi account.
Then off to get a post-paid cell plan with SIM card attached to my Iquama number. Cell phone place waaaay too busy - will do that Sunday.
This week, I can now apply to get Lisa here (she's flying to Houston for her medical tomorrow) and then she needs to mail her passport to them for processing.
Now to get my Saudi drivers license and buy a car.
Friday morning I hit the beach since it was so hot - here are some pics and a video - can't believe how clear the water was. Saw many fish and a couple sting rays as I walked around listening to tunes. Also some pics of the "Desert Designs" sale that reminded me of the 'markets' that get set up in Caribbean resorts at night.
Friday Night at the Mall
To kill the boredom of the bachelor camp, I bused into town to the mall for dinner - here are some random pics, including some work done by 'the Sharpie guy' ... His job is to color in any
'revealing' clothing so nobody gets offended.
I can't believe how cheap some things are here! A haircut was 15 SAR, which is about $5CDN. Typical lunch prices - chicken fajitas - $7 or 8, chicken shawarma - $6 or 7. Crazy!!
Saw sheep in a truck today and some camels wandering around - here are some pics from the drive to Jubail.
Okay everyone...thanks again for sticking with me for another long-winded update.
Keep in touch!!
Talk soon, JT/cak
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa