S: C. Patrick Erker Middle East Work and Travels, August-October 2010
BC: Goodbye! | Thanks to the entire team in Jeddah for an excellent ten weeks of work.
FC: Middle Eastern Work and Travel August 23 to October 31, 2010 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Cairo, Egypt Dubai, United Arab Emirates | C. Patrick Erker
1: On July 28, 2010, I moved from Los Angeles to Boston to start a new rotation with Patriot International Programs in Andover, Massachusetts. On the first day of work (August 2), my assignment manager, Matt Santangelo, informed me that they needed someone to head over to Saudi Arabia to support the team there as they prepared for an upcoming internal audit. It had been a goal of mine to work in the Middle East, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to see a new part of the world and work with a new set of individuals. I first had to get approval from my manager, Liz Rogers. She kindly encouraged me to head to Saudi, even though that meant that she would have to do without my help stateside for a couple months. I learned a tremendous amount during my time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, about international business and about the true diversity of the human experience. I also had the chance to do a bit of traveling, making my way to Cairo and Dubai in consecutive weekends. In this book I've tried to capture a representative slice of my life far from home. This is my first "photo book," so forgive the many imperfections it contains. Hopefully there will be many more of these to come.
2: Some views of Jeddah soon after my arrival. At top you see a typical mosque. If there's one thing you notice when you're in Saudi Arabia, it's that there are mosques everywhere! You'll notice speakers on the minaret; quickly became used to the five-times daily call to prayer. Driving to the Al Khalediya compound from the airport, you notice a few things:the roads are all brand new, the drivers all pretty nuts, and the speedometer measured in kilometers. | In the middle you see the Jeddah offices of Saudi Arabian Airlines, the nationalized airline for the Kingdom. They have great meals on said airline, and air conditioners that literally deliver frost to customers. At bottom is the facade of a new university in Jeddah. Although you can't see it here, on the left of the building is the "Male" college, and on the right the "Female" college.
3: Here are some shots of Old Jeddah. You see some pictures of the famous old gate, as well as pictures inside Old Jeddah. People live in the old buildings; there doesn't seem to be an effort to commercialize this potential tourist destination, but I would imagine they will soon.
4: A typical street sign at a roundabout in Jeddah. The streets in the city are all brand-new and highly modern. There are lots of roundabouts; however, I was confused to see lights at almost every one of these. | Another view of the gate at Old Jeddah | I think I took this picture when we were driving near "Chop-chop square." Capital punishment is still very much a part of Saudi criminal justice; public beheadings normally occur on Fridays, and I'm told that Westerners sometimes find themselves forced to observe the harsh punishments that occur here.
5: I went to the fish market with a couple co-workers one afternoon and picked up some interesting food. I should have gone with the tuna instead of the scaly, tough red snapper. It was better. The fish is actually cut and cleaned right in front of you. Don't go on a full stomach... | Cats were everywhere, especially on the compound. Every once in awhile, they have a "cat round-up" to help alleviate the overpopulation. I brought a laser-pointer with me to KSA. Needless to say, I had quite a bit of fun. To the left is a small lizard on my villa's wall.
6: Views in the Al Khalediya compound: from top right, the bowling alley; the weight room where I became good friends with the stationary bike; the basketball/volleyball court; the "game room"/library, which was connected to the computer lab. The compound was much like a small city, with almost everything you needed. We had a grocery/general store, a restaurant, gym, mail room, travel agent, tennis and racquetball courts, and of course the office and all of our homes. And generators in case the power goes out--which it did once.
7: At the beach club. This is where we went snorkeling. Peter Quimby and Kunal Patel brought me there on one of my first days in Kingdom. It was so hot that sitting in the shade was very much necessary. Because it was a western place, the beach was one of the few places I saw women not covered in the abaya.
8: Some more views on the Al Khalediya compound, the Saudi Arabia Integrated Defense Center, or SAIDC. You see the compound mosque on the bottom left. Muslim employees are able to use this mosque for their daily prayers. Our work schedule is built around prayer times, just like the country's. Everyone has to be sensitive about prayer times when scheduling meetings. We did get some beautiful sunsets from the compound, as you can see. From my office window, I could see two mosques and one very large machine gun (not pictured). I had a machine gun pointed at me every time I entered the facility. Thankfully it never went off.
9: CAIRO | Some very big stones | A good view | Looking into the Great Pyramid | The top picture shows how happy I was to be in Egypt. I was driving around with my very kind driver Magdy the night I arrived. He took me up to an overlook to see the city from above.
10: The Great Pyramid | Other visitors | Yes he asked for money | In front of the Second Pyramid (note the cap)
11: From top left, Looking down into the Second Pyramid; inside; with my tour guide Wanda, who has taken Barbara and Laura Bush, as well as other luminaries, around Cairo; camels
13: My camel's name was Mickey Mouse. He was pretty friendly overall. Actually, he didn't have much personality. He didn't charge much though, so I can't really complain that we didn't have the greatest of conversations. My camel leader guy was a nice guy, but made me a little nervous when he told me to drive and let go of the rope. There's no bit for camels; just a rope attached to their face. I'm not entirely sure how one would steer using such mechanisms.
14: Apparently that whole Sphinx guy was carved out of the same rock. It's quite impressive in person. They were all set up for a play (Aida?) while I was there; the Sphinx and pyramids served as the backdrop. It doesn't get much more romantic/historical than that. I should mention here that the pyramids and literally part of Cairo. You're driving down the highway out of the city, and all of a sudden, as if you're noticing a cool billboard, you see the pyramids.
16: Out in front of the Egyptian Museum. Before heading in, I enjoyed a chicken schwarma at the cafe outside. (It was there that I likely picked up the stomach issues that would plague me the following few weeks...) Inside the museum, I stared into the eyes of the great King Tut via his golden mask. I also spooked myself out by walking around among a number of royal mummies. What was that guard saying? That he wanted out of there. "I do the same thing every day!" he said. Egypt has more armed policemen than any country I've been to. Easily.
17: They say that Saudi Arabia is the most dangerous place to drive. Cairo must be a close second. Note the hole in the windshield of the car to the left. | Lunch on the Nile with my Cairo hosts, the Matt and Carrie Therrien. Where did we go? Well, T.G.I. Friday's, naturally. (It was Friday.)
18: Former FLDP and current General Accounting Manager Kunal Patel and I went to Dubai for a weekend in mid-October. We took advantage of the different and more liberal laws of the United Arab Emirates, enjoying a few cold ones as well as pork products forbidden in the Kingdom. Dinner was at a German place, the spread as diverse as the population of the Emirates. | DUBAI: October 14-16, 2010
19: After dinner, we made a quick stop by a bar called, fittingly, Boston. A little bit of dancing later, we were off to Barasti, what we're told is a popular Dubai night spot. I did not use that Shisha pipe.
20: "The World"development is visible here. | Lots of skyscrapers visible from the top of the world.
21: I don't have a picture of it, but I got a very delicious crepe there. | This mall sure beats the Galleria in St. Louis. | Views in the Dubai Mall, one of the world's largest. Aquarium, ice rink, gold souk, waterfall, mis-numbered American basketball star statues--you name it, it's there.
22: Ski Dubai | You can do basically anything in Dubai, including skiing indoors. The place was in a mall, with windows along the slopes. I did my best to wave to folks eating and drinking coffee on my way up.
24: Burj Khalifa: the tallest building in the world. It's more than 1,000 feet TALLER than the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago.
25: Views from the "top" (not actually the top); see bottom right for what was above us.
26: The Atlantis. Although we didn't stay here, we managed to make it out their private beach and pool. I got to swim in the Persian Gulf (slash Arabian Gulf). (Since July, I've now done the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian! (Both the Red Sea and Persian Gulf are part of the Indian Ocean.)
28: View of the Marina and its towers | The Burj Khalifa off in the distance | A nice pool | Looks like the Bahamas!
29: Evening at the Atlantis
30: Scenes from around Dubai: on a Western beach by the Marina; a twisty tower; in front of the only seven star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab.
31: The clocktower; a scene from the gold souk; a listing of gold dealers.
32: King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) | In my 69 nights out of the U.S., I visited a total of one mosque: the mosque at KAUST. It is a beautiful building inside and out; we went in just as the call to prayer started.
33: The library's interior. Of course, right as I was going into the library, I ran into Sam Fentress of St.Louis. Sam, who took pictures of my senior thesis stained glass window, was there taking pictures of KAUST. The school was designed by HOK, the same firm that designed the Priory chapel; A rare political statement; with former Duke Southgate Dorm neighbor Jay Larson and Raytheon security lead Gary Stoner.
34: Likely the only one of its kind in the country (guess what it is?) | Some views of the on-campus mosque.
35: Golf course!
36: Desert Golf at the Desert Lakes
38: Kunal sizing up the putt; Kunal laying it up on the "brown."
39: On one of the last weekend days of my time in Saudi Arabia, I went with Hashim Kamil and Kunal Patel to the desert outside of Makkah for some very fun driving. Hashim is an expert driver; although there were a lot of maniacs out there, I felt safe with our driver. Note the sign for Makkah, and the bus on the bottom. It's likely carrying pilgrims to the holiest site in Islam, just a few dozen kilometers from where we went. | Desert Drive
40: Camels on the side of the road towards Makkah. Some shots of the sun setting over the desert. Looking out over the dunes, I was finally seeing what I expected the Arabian Peninsula to look like. The power lines were a poignant reminder of what drives this economy.
44: Top 30 memories from my time working in the Middle East: 1)Camel ride outside the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo with my tour guide 2)The ascent to the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai 3)The sand dunes outside Makkah with Hashim and Kunal 10/30/10 4)KAUST visit and seeing an old Duke friend and St. Louis photographer 5)Creatively getting into the pool and beach area at the Atlantis in Dubai 6)Dinners and OSN Comedy at Kunal’s—steaks, Indian food, chicken, fish, vegetables, eggplant! 7)Being escorted between security and Consulate events by heavily-armed guard forces 8)Iftar dinner on the Red Sea on the last day of Ramadan 9)Staring into the eyes of King Tut’s mask at the Egyptian Museum 10)Skiing at Ski Dubai 11)Saudia Airlines 12)The Mexican dinner at Casa Swoboda and the intense conversations that followed 13)Playing Rockband at Gerry Perez’s villa 14)Saturday night football at Gary Stoner’s villa. Watching Duke beat Navy 15)Volleyball on Sundays and Tuesdays—are those women!? 16)American Business Group of Jeddah meeting 17)The daily special and the daily quiz 18)Tom Kennedy, Sanjay Kapoor, Tom Vecchiolla visit to Jeddah and dinner on compound 19)My weekly status updates and phone calls to Matt Santangelo and Liz Rogers back at the U.S. program office 20)Going to the petty cash window to get cash for all of my expenses 21)Trying to hit a huge shot with Abel and Kunal in the gym after the Halloween party 22)Playing desert golf with James Moller and Kunal 23)Locking all four locks on my door 24)Deciding the floor is a better place for my clothes post-dryer than the dresser drawers 25)The ever-present prayer call; arranging your schedule around it every day 26)Painfully slow internet 27)Google Voice and the occasional Skype call to the U.S. or Chile 28)Impassioned discussions with Chris and Steve about, well, whatever 29)Going away dinner with Peter, Ahmed and Renee, and Kunal at the Jeddah Westin overlooking the Red Sea 30)The beach club; snorkeling there
45: Where to read about my time in the Middle East: http://chaperker.blogspot.com/