Monday, December 13, 2010

STEER Day 3: Jubail, KSA.

It's only Day 3?! Feels like its been a long time since we first landed in Dubai.. and we have really learnt a lot since then.

Today was truly an eye-opener for me. We were treated to the true wealth of the Saudis in Jubail, an industrial model city. Jubail was first decreed in 1975 to be a city built to develop the petrochemical industry in Saudi Arabia. Our first stop of he day was to the Royal Commission of Jubail to learn more about the city and how they planned it. If you thought Singapore's infrastructure was impressive, Jubail is even more so.

Jubail has the benefit of being built out of nothing at all. They took the opportunity to build a masterplan for a city that had industry, commerce and residential areas. The result is a city where all water, electricity, waste, fibre optics are built underground and where the streets look more like Australia than anywhere else in KSA. At the Royal Commission, we learmt how they built Jubail from ground up, and how the city functions now. Apparently every university graduate there gets an average of 5 job offers! The courses in their university are specially tailored to suit the demands of the job market, thereby creating a self-sustaining workforce.

We also had the opportunity to have lunch with some of the students from their university. Makmur especially interacted with them and found out how life really is in KSA. I also had a chance to chat with them a little and i realise that we are more similar than we thought initially. They play computer games too, they like hanging out with friends, going to the beach, etc. Kinda cool actually. The students are alot more approachable than the adults it seems.. maybe because of the smaller age gap?

Anyways, after lunch, we went on to SHARQ, which is a petrochemical company manufacturing plastics for Asian markets. The plant was huge, but we couldn't take any photos.. SHARQ is also an affiliate company of SABIC, KSA's second largest oil company. After the SHARQ visit, we went to Petrol Steel Co Ltd, a joint venture company between a Saudi firm and Singapore's Rotary Engineering. There, they shared a bit more about how KSA is diversifying into petrol-related products to decrease reliance on the oil industry. It was also that i realised how comforting it is to hear a Sinaporean accent when you are in foreign land. Ahh!! Missing home already!

That, by the way, is the end of the itinerary of the day. It seems really short, but we actually took a whole
day to finish the touring. Shagged!! More to come in the next few days. Hope it gets better!

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