Saudi Aramco
August 21, 2006 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Saudi Aramco is the state-owned oil production company in Saudi Arabia. It's also the largest oil company in the world. Its headquarters are in Dhahran (wiki), a city owned by Saudi Aramco (other cities being Abqaiq, Ras Tanura, and Udailiyah), which houses numerous expats and native Saudis. You might have heard about Dhahran recently as they just fielded a Little League World Series team (featuring a 6'8", 256 lb. first baseman...
posted by mckenney (22 comments total)
These kids are going to be leaving in a couple years, most of them for boarding schools that are by the company, as school for expat children doesn't go past 9th grade. If that's not so impressive, consider the other perks of working there, such as tax-sheltered income, free utilities and maintenance, good diving and convenient shopping in nearby Al-Khobar. Don't forget about the illicit stills (complete with instructions) for giving you that much-needed sense of home.

Sound like the ideal place? Keep in mind the summers can run a little hot, and there is a slight chance of bombings.
posted by mckenney at 11:34 AM on August 21, 2006

I went to a boarding school in New Hampshire and I used to know an Indian girl whose address was always listed in the directory as someplace in Saudi Arabia, but "c/o Saudi Aramco"- I always assumed that the oil company provided complexes within already established towns for their employees, but I didn't realize the scope of their involvement.
posted by Oobidaius at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2006

on preview, I deleted a long comment about the difficulty of having gone to prep school with dozens of aramo kids. Put more politely than I was tempted to - they weren't easy to get along with.
posted by Dr. Boom at 11:55 AM on August 21, 2006

I went to boarding school with a bunch of aramco kids too and i found them to be pretty cool.
posted by ofthestrait at 12:04 PM on August 21, 2006

Disclaimer - I was an Aramco kid, so I am inclined to say that we were totally awesome, although I do think there is a sense of disparity between what we Aramco kids could afford vs. what the regular prep school attendees could afford. Lots of those kids were super-rich, and I know my parents couldn't have afforded a 20k-per-year tuition without the reimbursement from Aramco.
posted by mckenney at 12:07 PM on August 21, 2006

I also prepped with Aramco kids, great group of people for the most part. Note that's it not just Americans, but a significant amount of Indians, Palestinians, Lebanese, and other people who work in the engineering etc. world.
posted by cell divide at 12:07 PM on August 21, 2006

To be fair, there were peculiarities of my particular school (and of my class for that matter) that didn't bring out the best in people, myself included, I'm sure. (sadly, my being super-rich, was not one of those peculiarities)
posted by Dr. Boom at 12:22 PM on August 21, 2006

I grew up in Dhahran, and I've been avidly watching the team play in the Little League World Series. I was wondering if someone would post something about that.

Yeah, like you said, there's no school provided there after 9th grade so almost every kid goes off to boarding school with 90% tuition reimbursed by the employer. Just about every boarding school in the country (and out of it) is going to have housed some kids from there.

I'm not sure what you mean by tax-sheltered income. Dad paid income tax like every other American citizen. Also, since ARAMCO is slowly marching toward Saudi-ization of their company, the expat community has been slowly shrinking over time. You should've seen it in the mid-80's and compared it to now.

*waves at fellow ARAMCOns*
posted by empyrean at 12:22 PM on August 21, 2006

Indeed, US taxation applies to all Americans, resident or not.
posted by clevershark at 12:24 PM on August 21, 2006

Sorry, I was referring to the "Expatriate Premium" mentioned in their hiring site.
posted by mckenney at 12:28 PM on August 21, 2006

I wasn't an Aramco kid (my dad worked for Sadaf and Sabic), but lived in Jubail for a few years in the mid-eighties. Then I hit 11 and went to boarding school in the UK.

It was an entertaining time, but as empyrean mentions, Saudi-ization is occurring everywhere. Also, the culture of 1983 was far more pleasant than that of 1999 (or was it '98, can't remember) when my folks left for good.
posted by lowlife at 12:30 PM on August 21, 2006

Amazing there is an AramcoBrats Online Museum.

One of my exes' father worked at Aramco.

Khobar, one of the cities where a lot of Aramco expats live.

Many expats in India sent their kids to Woodstock School, where there were also Aramco alumni. Now there are old expat Woodstock School sites. As well a page with most of the ex-pat or colonial leftover schools in India.

An Aramco expat site.

I thought if one were an expat the first $80,00 was tax exempt?
posted by nickyskye at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2006

*waves at fellow ARAMCOns*

*waves back*

Dhahran 1974-1985 representin'. You can actually see the townhouse where I lived in a arial photo in the September 1980 issue of National Geographic.
posted by Cyrano at 1:01 PM on August 21, 2006

There's also a magazine put out by the company called Saudi Aramco World
posted by deanc at 1:01 PM on August 21, 2006

fucker still looks like a ringer.
posted by tsarfan at 1:20 PM on August 21, 2006

What a small, small world it is. (marvels at number of aramcons)
posted by cavalier at 1:36 PM on August 21, 2006

Non-Aramcon but lived in Al Khobar in 1983/4 and attended Dhahran Academy (7th grade).

Visited Aramco many times, always marveled at how American the place felt, esp. compared to our little flat in Al Khobar.

Dad worked for KFU, taught medicine, caught Hep B from patient, barely survived, and moved us all back to CA soon after.

I miss it enough that I went to Oman for a few weeks in Jan 2001, just to be back in that part of the world again.
posted by dontoine at 2:34 PM on August 21, 2006

mckenney: thanks for the post. nice to see this, my gf is an aramco brat (she says "representin' dharan 1990-1998").

about the tax income -- i think it is a hybrid between sheltered and unsheltered. i believe the tax treaty with saudi allows for the first $80K to be untaxed, and then after that the employees pay taxes. with base salaraies well over six figures, there is still plenty of taxable income.
posted by karson at 3:41 PM on August 21, 2006

Ahh! I knew I had the picture scanned somewhere:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Just off the top of the page was one of the big Saudi airforce bases. The coalition used it quite a bit during Gulf War I. Saddam shot a lot of Scuds their way. Whenever the King would come to town they'd always put on an airshow, and we'd climb up onto the roof and watch. A F-15 pilot with free reign to show-off can do some pretty impressive shit.

The road snaking off on the forefront-right, led to a place we called "The Hills." It was pretty much the first true Dhahran suburb. When I live there we still considered Al Khobar to be "in town."
posted by Cyrano at 7:07 PM on August 21, 2006

Karson beat me to it. It's not just Saudi; Americans earning abroad have their first 80,000 exempted from American tax worldwide. Since Saudi has no income tax at all, the 80K is totally tax free. If, like me, you're working in a country outside the Gulf, you pay local tax on your earnings.

Since I'm making peanuts, they are American-tax-free peanuts, but if, theoretically, I made more than 80K, whatever I had paid in local tax would still be deducted from my American tax burden, so I wouldn't be double-taxed. I understand most countries have a similar tax treaty with the States.

(Diclaimer: I'm not an accountant)
posted by BinGregory at 8:23 PM on August 21, 2006

the tax treaty with saudi allows for the first $80K to be untaxed...

Not a tax treaty with Saudi, per se -- the first $80K of foreign-earned, foreign-source income is excluded from US taxation, regardless of the country. That's the IRS policy per Section 911 across the board, and is not tied to any one nation.

Not to say that Saudi Arabia and the US don't have other unique agreements (and Aramco's Expatriate Premium is certainly a nice incentive), but just to clarify that the $80K exemption isn't one of them; it applies to any US citizen working and living in any foreign country.
posted by pineapple at 8:33 PM on August 21, 2006

Not an Aramco brat as such, but my father worked out there for 25 years, so I spend many many summer & christmas holidays out there.

As a brit kid in the 80's, I thought the complex, we were in Ras Tanura, was amazing, just how I imagined an American town to be, bowling alleys, minigolf, softball etc. During the summers the place was exactly like a holiday camp, with all the kids visiting their parents.

Went back about 4 years ago, just before my father retired. The atmosphere in the camps has changed quite dramatically. With the Saudiization of the company, the camps are getting to be like ghost towns.
posted by lloyder at 4:56 AM on August 22, 2006

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