al gara mountain

al gara mountain is considered to be one of the most important tourist and natural landmarks in al ahsa.  it consists of sedimentary rocks, where the sedimentary layers can be seen with the naked eye.  it is also famous for its caves and alleys between the rocks, and therefore it has become one of the most famous nature sites in the arabian gulf region.

before i went home for days off, i had the chance of having a short visit in al ahsa where the al gara mountain is located.  also called as judas cave, the place was literally claustrophobic as my saudi co-workers guided me inside.  it was a friday when we went there so there were a number of people who were also visiting. 

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after probably half an hour i was drenched in sweat and getting dizzy so i told my companions that i had enough and need to get out of there.  i did not attempted to climb on the elevated area for i was wearing flip flops and it wasn’t very safe.

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the rock formations of the mountain itself was in fact, fascinating.

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golden showers

we had unexpected guests last night at the rig. when i went back to our office after i had dinner, beside my table were a box of red capped, wide mouthed plastic bottles and a small blue ice box – i cannot help myself but to peek inside the container and i saw test kits inside. my rig manager asked me what was it for and i told him that the drug testers are on location.

the presence of illegal drugs on an employee while performing company business or while on company premises is a violation of company policy. the use, sale, purchase, transfer or possession of an illegal drug by any employee while on company premises or while on company business is a violation of company policy.

it is the first time that we had a random screening here at the rig and i have been here for almost three years. i think our main office just had to do it for there were reports of illegal drug use on some rigs. considering this is saudi arabia but still, it does exist. i had to wake up some of the crew who were off tour for them to visit the rig clinic to have their urine samples for the drug tests.

i actually volunteered to be the first to have my urine sample checked.

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the testers were using a multi drug test panel dip cards on which checks for presence of metabolites of cocaine, amphetamines, methadone, marijuana, and opiates. some of the crew were a bit nervous that it took time for them to pee to provide the urine sample, well i think there will be one obvious reason (i am not saying all) to be jittery on a random drug test – and that is if you are a user.

sunbaked

baking, blazing, blistering, boiling, broiling, burning, calescent, decalescent, febrile, fevered, feverish, feverous, fiery, flaming, heated, humid, igneous, incandescent, like an oven, on fire, ovenlike, parching, piping, recalescent, red, roasting, scalding, scorching, searing, sizzling, smoking, steaming, stuffy, sultry, summery, sweltering, sweltry, thermogenic, torrid, tropic, tropical, very warm, warm . .

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it is actually 55 degrees centigrade here in our location  . . words aren’t enough to describe the heat in here!

a saudi valentine

Be my Valentine — but shh, Saudi vice cops are watching

by Paul Handley

RIYADH (AFP) – It is the eve of Valentine’s Day in Saudi Arabia — and as usual the florists are hiding away their red roses.

Toy stores have cuddly red teddy bears and candy merchants have heart-shaped red boxes of bon bons in stock, but all are hidden out of sight.

It is the annual battle between Saudi romantics and the feared Muttawa, the Islamic police, who each year try to convince the public that Valentine’s Day on February 14 is a heathen holiday not suitable for the homeland of Islam.

This year is no different — reminders have gone out from clerics of a years-old fatwa reminding people that Islam does not recognise Valentine’s Day, which originally commemorated one or more Christian martyrs called Saint Valentine.

According to media reports this week, the education ministry sent out circulars about the proscribed day in an effort to prevent the most vulnerable — dreamy-eyed students — from succumbing to Westernised thoughts of romance.

Meanwhile supermarkets have tucked away red gift items that might get them shut down for a day or two, and chocolate shops have done the same.

Two days before the big day a florist in Riyadh’s upmarket Suleimaniya district was shipping out wreaths of red roses and crimson apples in the middle of the afternoon, the time that everyone else, including the Muttawa, is at rest.

“Every year they try to stop Valentine’s Day,” said a Pakistani deliveryman as he packed the wreaths into a van. “The Muttawa will come tonight. If they catch me they will take all of these and destroy them.”

The Western version of Valentine’s Day — lovers raining flowers, chocolates and toys, all with a red theme, on each other — would be a challenge in Saudi Arabia at any time of the year.

Strict Islamic religious rules keep men and women separate until they are married — and marriages are usually arranged by their families.

There is no taking a girlfriend out to a coffee shop or restaurant: the cafes and restaurants all have separate sections, one for single men and the other for women and families.

But the Muttawa — which go by the official name of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices– are only a nuisance, not a reign of terror, said a choclatier in front of his shop Wednesday.

His Valentine’s assortments are mixed colours — red, blue, green etc — so that he doesn’t attract undo attention.

“Sales are still good,” he said, not wanting to be identified to be on the safe side.

na’al

the saudi sandal is typically made from camel or cow leather, it differs from a regular sandal for it has a ring of leather that wraps around the large toe and the leather shield that covers the outer side of the foot. 

the saudis call it as na’al.

a world without filipinos

Imagine a world without Filipinos
Abdullah Al-Maghlooth | Al-Watan
 
Muhammad Al-Maghrabi became handicapped and shut down his flower and gifts shop business in Jeddah after his Filipino workers insisted on leaving and returning home. He says: “When they left, I felt as if I had lost my arms. I was so sad that I lost my appetite”. Al-Maghrabi then flew to Manila to look for two other Filipino workers to replace the ones who had left. Previously, he had tried workers of different nationalities but they did not impress him. “There is no comparison between Filipinos and others, he says. Whenever I see Filipinos working in the Kingdom, I wonder what our life would be without them”. Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipino workers — 1,019,577 — outside the Philippines. In 2006 alone, the Kingdom recruited more than 223,000 workers from the Philippines and their numbers are still increasing. Filipinos not only play an important and effective role in the Kingdom, they also perform different jobs in countries across the world, including working as sailors. They are known for their professionalism and the quality of their work. Nobody here can think of a life without Filipinos, who make up around 20 percent of the world’s seafarers. There are 1.2 million Filipino sailors. So if Filipinos decided one day to stop working or go on strike for any reason, who would transport oil, food and heavy equipment across the world? We can only imagine the disaster that would happen. What makes Filipinos unique is their ability to speak very good English and the technical training they receive in the early stages of their education. There are several specialized training institutes in the Philippines, including those specializing in engineering and road maintenance. This training background makes them highly competent in these vital areas. When speaking about the Philippines, we should not forget Filipino nurses. They are some 23 percent of the world’s total number of nurses. The Philippines is home to over 190 accredited nursing colleges and institutes, from which some 9,000 nurses graduate each year. Many of them work abroad in countries such as the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Singapore.Cathy Ann, a 35-year-old Filipino nurse who has been working in the Kingdom for the last five years and before that in Singapore, said she does not feel homesick abroad because “I am surrounded by my compatriots everywhere”. Ann thinks that early training allows Filipinos to excel in nursing and other vocations. She started learning this profession at the age of four as her aunt, a nurse, used to take her to hospital and ask her to watch the work. “She used to kiss me whenever I learned a new thing. At the age of 11, I could do a lot. I began doing things like measuring my grandfather’s blood pressure and giving my mother her insulin injections,” she said. This type of early education system is lacking in the Kingdom. Many of our children reach the university stage without learning anything except boredom. The Philippines, which you can barely see on the map, is a very effective country thanks to its people. It has the ability to influence the entire world economy. We should pay respect to Filipino workers, not only by employing them but also by learning from their valuable experiences. We should learn and educate our children on how to operate and maintain ships and oil tankers, as well as planning and nursing and how to achieve perfection in our work. This is a must so that we do not become like Muhammad Al-Maghrabi who lost his interest and appetite when Filipino workers left his flower shop. We have to remember that we are very much dependent on the Filipinos around us. We could die a slow death if they chose to leave us.