After working for EL as a scheduler and then as a support person for the OptiMiser software program, my husband and I accepted an opportunity to live overseas as “expats”. My husband Tom taught a class as a consultant in Saudi Arabia in 2010 for Saudi Aramco Oil. The class was about Building Codes, as the company uses the US Codes. He was invited back again in 2012 and offered a job at that time. “Honey, do you want to live in Saudi Arabia?”
The first thing I can say is we have been here over a year and are doing fine. There are definite ups and downs to this gig, and the culture of Saudi is always interesting and challenging. We live on a guarded compound of about 10 square miles and 11,000 people with totally mixed nationalities – you can find someone from about every country in the world here. The compound is very westernized and we have one of the very few movie theaters in the entire country here. We have a house with a yard and lots of clubs, groups and recreation opportunities here, which makes it feel more “like home”. A few things we don’t have are alcohol and pork…you have to work around these things. One way is to drive to Bahrain and get those things there. There is some manufacturing that occurs here as well, but that’s a secret!
Tom’s job is going well. It is unfortunate to say, but they can barely build safe buildings here with proper fire exits and structure, much less look at energy efficiency. However, I see hope in the future as the country realizes it cannot rely on oil forever. There is exploration into alternative energy here and that should lead to more efficient houses and better design. Tom’s purpose is to try to educate on safe building but also better methods and thinking “outside the box”.
I hope that you are all well and are looking forward to summer. I really enjoyed working with all of you and wish you continued success at EL! If you have any questions you’d like to ask me, I’d welcome your email at email@example.com.
Barbara Ann McMonigal