"Dhahran, Saudi Arabia" Top 5 Page for this destination Dhahran by william_navigator

Dhahran Travel Guide: 79 reviews and 129 photos

Aramco Brat

Yes I am an Aramco Brat. That means I was a grew up here in the 70s and 80s while my Dad worked for Aramco. Aramco, now Saudi Aramco, is the national oil company for Saudi Arabia. It is THE biggest oil company in the world (in terms of oil reserves) and is the lifeblood of the country.

I lived on a compound but we went to the local town(s) every weekend and sometimes on weekday nights. Most people are very friendly and I enjoyed growing up here. The compound is like a small midwest town transplanted into the desert of Arabia. You have the comforts of home inside the compound and outside the compound you get the excitement of a different culture and new adventures.


I work for a U.S. company and got the wonderful opportunity to come back to Dhahran on a 2 year assignment. It was great to come back and see how much things have changed and how some things haven't. The compound is much like I remembered it but with more trees.

It was also a disappointment to see how some things really have stayed the same in Khobar and Dammam: trash everywhere, beggars, lack of infrastructure, and an unhealthy disregard of basic traffic laws. "Pizza Sheik" Mall burned down since I was last here but you can still see the rubble where it used to stand. Compared to Bahrain, Oman and the Emirates the political and business leaders have really failed to take advantage of all that oil money. When the oil runs out then what?

I really do not mean to be too harsh. With living here 15+ years I have an emotional investment and strong personal attachment to this place, I hope everything turns out okay. Overall I am glad I returned and have made some really good friendships with locals and expatriates.

Security Issues

People alwasy ask if I am worried about the security and political situation. I tell them that I am safer here than in Houston. I'm less likely to get mugged, shot, killed, etc. here than back in the States. Of course the scary aspect is that here Westerners can be targets for certain individuals. Whereas in the States crime generally does not have a target. No one shoudl wear an American flag T-shirt and walk around certain streets of Dammam at night.

Overall most people are friendly and most people understand that we are all just trying to earn a living regardless of nationality. The important thing is that the educated moderate populace needs to make sure they stay vocal and never let the extreme religious conservatives get too much power.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Small-midwest-town life in an exotic Arabian landscape
  • Cons:Bureaucratic red tape; Bad drivers, Security issues.
  • In a nutshell:Oasis in the desert
  • Last visit to Dhahran: Nov 2005
  • Intro Updated Nov 29, 2005
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Reviews (24)

Comments (2)

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2006 at 12:32 AM

    Hi! Nice photos & interesting insights! Thanks for sharing :-) I know how you feel about the "driving skills" of most residents - Greetings from crazy Dubai / Jess :-)

  • janetanne's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2006 at 11:56 PM

    Driving there sounds like Greece! You'd be a great driver here in Greece:):)

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