AramcoBrats, Inc.

Leaving Saudi Arabia For Good

  • 27 Oct 2010 8:32 AM
    Message # 452091
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    I am wondering, how did you feel when you left Saudi Arabia for good?  Were you old enough to realize what you were leaving behind, or were you still a little child?

    For me, it was the worst day.  I had grown up in Dhahran, it was the only home I ever knew.  I was there from the age of around 7 months, until my freshman year in college.  When my dad told me the summer after my high school graduation, that he was going to be leaving Aramco the following year, and that Christmas was the last time I would be returning home, it actually took my breath away.

    That Christmas break, I planned to make it the best trip ever, because I knew that this would be the last time I would see most of these people.  Yeah, we traded contact information, but it was mainly postal addresses.  Email was still relatively new at this time, so the chances of really keeping in touch were pretty slim.  

    The night of my flight, my friends gathered at my house to see me off. The first round of goodbyes were had when my dad took me to the airport to check-in and drop off my bags.  We just stood outside, gave each other hugs, promised we would stay in touch, and try to get together soon.  After checking my bags, my dad and I came home, so that I could spend just a little more time with my friends.  This second round of goodbyes was even worse.  The first batch of friends were more recent friends, but this second batch.... they were people I knew my entire life, people that to this day I still consider some of my best friends.  These were the first people I would call when I got home for break, and the last people I would see before leaving.  

    The goodbye moment was made even more special when my father decided to allow them to drive me to the airport for my final departure instead of him.  That drive was really somber, the only noise above the music were the wimpers and heavy breaths.  Even more tears were had as I pushed my way out of the car, and last minutes hugs and kisses were given to each other.

    I have been lucky enough to have a group of people that were such wonderful friends.  Granted, now that we are all stateside and have our own lives, we don't see each other as much as we used to. Facebook has been a god-send.  I still get to keep in touch with these people, and when we get together face-to-face, it is as though we have never been apart.  We can talk about anything, from reminiscing about the old days, to talking about how things are going now.  I wish it could happen as frequently as it did back in Dhahran, but I will take every couple of years.
  • 30 Oct 2010 10:13 AM
    Reply # 453814 on 452091
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Nice story, Dawn.

    My dad left Aramco for a year after I'd finished 7th grade.  I remember those goodbyes very well.  I was devastated! My friends chipped in and gave me a necklace and charm (palm tree and crossed swords) which I still have.  The pain of leaving my friends behind was eased only by the fact that my parents allowed me to go to gymnastics camp with Mrs. Papp and Sharon in Lawrenceville, NJ.  I absolutely hated the next year in public school in Illinois. I was bored and felt like a square peg in a round hole until I met a girl who had just moved from Qatar.  It was a brat-like connection, and we became best friends.

    High school found me back in Saudi Arabia as a returning student.  For me, the boarding school experience was wonderful.  I absolutely loved Andover because it was the first time I was ever really challenged, and it was actually cool to be smart!

    My last trip back was Christmas before I graduated from college.  Oddly enough I don't remember any traumatic goodbyes or even sadness as I separated from the mother ship for the last time.  Truth be told, I was actually hacked off about being detained in Immigration for a being a single, adult female, traveling alone, and being unable to check out a particularly geology text book from UPM because...I was female.  I pretty much left in a huff.  LOL!

    Perhaps it was easier to leave at that particular point in life when I was gearing up to start my new life as an adult.  I was also engaged, and the pain of being separated from the man who is now my husband trumped everything else.  I couldn't wait to get back to Houston and the Rice campus!

    One thing I have noticed, throughout my adult life, is that, wherever I am, I seem to surround myself with an international group of friends, not unlike what you would have in the Aramco communities.  Living in Houston and working in the oil industry makes it easy.  I consider my third-culture-ness and relative ease relating to people from different countries as the greatest gift I received from my Aramco Brat experience...and my necklace and charm, of course. ;-)
  • 21 Dec 2010 10:30 AM
    Reply # 483823 on 452091
    Hated the day I left...but never said for good.  Was lucky enough that work took me back to the Middle East for a while.  Made it about 50 miles off the beach I loved in RT.  Then drilled a oilwell or two there. Could hear the radio traffic from RT terminal on my drilling rig.
  • 14 Feb 2011 9:34 PM
    Reply # 522224 on 452091
    we left in March of '76.  The story I've always heard is that my dad was passed over for promotion and quit in a huff...except that he didn't tell my mother, who heard about it months later at the office Christmas party.  Um.  How not to be married.  I had never, ever lived in the States except for vacations -- I was born at Dhahran Community Clinic in 1963.  My parents met in Dhahran and got married in Bahrain, for God's sake.  We none of us made a happy transition to State-side life.  34 years later I live in the MD suburbs of Washington DC surrounded by people who came from somewhere else, whether in the US or outside.  Our local school system recognizes something like 14 different languages and "International Night" at my kids' school features more dishes from Africa, the Middle East and Central America than it does Europe.  I realized a few years ago that I'm trying to give my kids the nearest thing to my early life as I can without leaving the US.  I guess for that I can put up with the Beltway during rush hour!
  • 03 Oct 2011 9:30 AM
    Reply # 714050 on 452091
    I moved there when I was four and the day after I graduated we left for good, talk about a sobfest, thinking I would never see any of friends again.  Well as we all know that couldn't be further from the truth.  I actually ended up in a class with an old boyfriend my senior year in Tempe, Arizona.  Then when I moved to Texas, my sister and a few friends had a great idea to have a reunion of such, was somewhat small, compared to what they are now a days, but as we have all witnessed by the hard work of many it has allowed us to reconnect in person to an astounding amount of brats.  I miss Saudi and what we had there, but we will always have the memories and isn't that what life is about anyways. See ya'll God willing and finances allowing in Tucson for the next stroll down memory lane!
  • 05 Oct 2011 1:29 AM
    Reply # 715405 on 452091
    I too was born in Dhahran in 1956 and never considered anywhere else home....my last summer there was during 1981 but neither of my parents told me that it would be my last summer.  The following year, in the spring, my parents were with me in the states.  I asked my Dad when we were going back to Dhahran, and he said "Robin, you're not join back to Dhahran.  You are going to stay here and get a job."  I was heartbroken.  It was my home.  The night my parents left to go back to Dhahran, (after they left, I began screaming and crying.)  It was the only time in my life that I ever recall throwing a temper tantrum!  Of course, I had to clean everything up after I finished getting angry.  Nothing has ever been the same.  I've worked overseas, but not in Dhahran.  I've never felt that I completely belong here in the U.S. which I guess, is kind of sad, since I'm a U.S. citizen.
  • 05 Nov 2011 12:06 AM
    Reply # 742726 on 452091
    I am very experienced at leaving Saudi Arabia for good. The first occasion of leaving was in 1954, I was a toddler, and my father was transferred back to the NY Office. However it was recently noted by an uncle at a family reunion that I was a pain in the ass in those days. Hmmm. Okay, I wasn't happy away from the land of my birth. We went back to Ras Tanura in '59 and I loved the life. But the days were cut short, and off again to Standard Oil in SF. In '78 I returned to Dhahran as an employee with my wife, '81 we moved to RT, and again in '82 we moved to Abqaiq. In '88 my wife and I packed up the three kids and returned to SF, but not for long. We came back in '91 and now 20 years later we are packing up for good. Again. Is this really it? Mashallah, it has been a lot of packing and promises, Allah yahrif kulashay. 
  • 09 May 2019 2:36 PM
    Reply # 7332143 on 452091
    Growing up in a place such as ours was difficult, as you always had that sense in the back of your mind that it would end one day.    Though I never wanted to face that reality, eventually I had to and when leaving to boarding school as I thought to myself, "is that why they send us to our 'home' , to prepare us, to re-root us back in 'our culture?'"  Luckily I found other Brats around my school, as I was experiencing culture shock in my country of origin.  I remember when my mom told me she was leaving Saudi for good, and divorcing my father,  I was finishing college, and  I didn't even talk about my heartbreak to anyone as it was dark and consuming... I know this sounds dramatic but it is true...(tears welling up still about Saudi, not the divorce).  I felt like the emotions I had felt growing up in Saudi I would never feel in the same way in another place, except in my dreams.  Saudi haunted my dreams for many years after I left...I would wake up with a longing...and I would try to push the emotions away and live my life where I was, and try to be satisfied.   There was a time in my life where I would feel I would have sacrificed many things to return.  When I was 26, after repeated dreams and feelings like I would return or I had to return, things in my life shifted and I did return to live with my mother who was working for the Royal Family...it was different as I was already grown, and was so happy to take my child with me and introduce him to my childhood home.  I didn't live in the camp when I returned so I felt that I really, really, went home the second time I lived there.  It was a beautiful experience and have to say that I was so happy to have both experiences as a child expat living in a compound and as a expat woman living outside the compound.  I would not trade either for anything in this world.  Saudi still haunts my dreams.  I will push back for now.
    Last modified: 09 May 2019 2:38 PM | Anonymous member



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