Program for Strategic Research and Studies

The American Experience in Saudi Arabia

Life and Experience in the Kingdom

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies approximately 800,000 square miles – about four-fifths – of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered on the west by the Red Sea and on the east by the Arabian Gulf.

The experiences one gains working overseas are fantastic and Saudi Arabia brings an air of mystery and vision from vast deserts to sprawling cities. Learning about new cultures, visiting different places and working with welcoming Saudis expatriates from all around the world broaden their perspective and world view.

Saudi Aramco – the state state-owned oil company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – is a fully integrated, global petroleum enterprise and a world leader in exploration, production, refining, distribution, marketing and petrochemicals manufacturing. Saudi Aramco is headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and employs more than 55,000 employees. Critical to the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, expatriates (including Americans) have also played a vital role in the company’s development.

An important segment of the population, expatriates are an important resource and Saudi companies place an emphasis on talent and teamwork. In a spirit of collaboration and recognition, these expatriates work to the highest industry standards and are valued for the role they play in Saudi Arabia’s success. From Saudi Aramco’s early pioneering days to the industry-wide challenges of today, it is the people who have connected the company to its success, and it’s been their dedication and hard work that have united them as a family, then and now. These are their stories. This was their “Life in the Kingdom”.

Interview with Bert Seal – Bert’s photography skills landed him a job in Saudi Arabia in 1955, changing his life. His work includes pictures of King Saud in his palace alongside the King of Iraq.

Interview with Charlie Hudson – Charlie’s determination to live overseas began in 1979 while working in Houston, Texas. He answered an advertisement regarding cartographers and mappers “overseas”, thus began his journey in Saudi Arabia.

Interview with Joe Allen – After meeting and befriending an Aramco employee, Joe began working for the company in 1980. Eager to use his creativity and background in fine arts, he began a new life in Saudi Arabia.

Interview with Rick Patterson – As Senior Adviser to the National Commercial Bank from 1976 to 1979, Rick’s job was to oversee a group of foreign advisers who worked in financing the infrastructure boom in Saudi Arabia during that time.

Interview with Bob Morgan –  A captain in the Air Transport Command during World War II, Morgan and fellow pilot seized the rare opportunity to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Interview with Hugh Renfro – Looking to keep his family afloat after the Second World War, Hugh started working in Saudi Arabia with Aramco in 1952. He continued to work in Saudi Arabia for over 60 years. 

Interview with Richard Kruegger – Restless in his job at an American oil company, Richard answered a classified ad for a marketing position in Saudi Arabia. Six months later, he flew to an interview in Paris for a Saudi-based trading company.

Interview with Martin and Rosemary Levine – As a young couple with a passion for travelling, Martin and Rosemary jumped at the chance to work with Aramco in the Kingdom. Though they thought they would only stay in Saudi Arabia for two years, the Levines stayed for over a decade.