Thread regarding Saudi Aramco layoffs

Let’s do a (yet another) dry run…

Nauseating rehearsals of simple presentations just for the sake of it. Absurd changes to fonts and colors demanded by childish management. No actual useful or constructive comments from anyone in the room. These people claim they are industry leading, what a joke. Next time I’ll copy something from the internet if that’s the default Aramco response. I get more insight talking to my pet goldfish.

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| 3956 views | | 51 replies (last February 10)
Post ID: @OP+1qos0hsl

51 replies (most recent on top)

One coping mechanism we used to blow off steam was to commiserate every logical Friday with a rousing game of darts, music, and beverages. It was called 'Porch Night'.
I can still remember singing along with TK... 'The Ta----n Song' at full volume. No wives except on the yearly ladies night. It helped us all go the distance that we need to reach our goals. And upon reflection the times weren't so bad.

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Post ID: @Cfjt+1qos0hsl

We use to call that doing 'Aramco' work. Code I guess, not really sure but it stuck with my expat friends.

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Post ID: @Cgzv+1qos0hsl

I have learned to have a stock of ready-to-go PowerPoints, complete with reused buzzwords, graphics and pointless strap lines. Management love it.

I can then focus my energies on other more productive activities like planning repats, investments ,weekends and reading novels.

It’s money for old rope as they say. You have to play the game, little point getting annoyed about the cr-ppy culture . This is Aramco, this is Saudi Arabia, you’re just a hired g-n.

If you want to make a difference you’re in the wrong place, sorry if you’ve been coerced as a new joiner. The sooner you reconcile this fact, the easier things will become.

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Post ID: @Ceni+1qos0hsl

Wow! Things seem to be getting very clandestine. The era of the long jambiyas has returned.

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Post ID: @ncij+1qos0hsl

@1bhp+1qos0hsl

The MC meetings are done in Arabic as there was a mole(s) leaking info into WhatsApp. Ditto with other committees. So of course changing from English Arabic solved that problem because locals would never backstab, steal, cheat, hide or obfuscate anything - that’s just those English speaking infidels right?

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Post ID: @nhqm+1qos0hsl

Never EVER even hint that management might be misguided, uninformed, ignorant or plain wrong. Even if you have cast iron evidence, just don’t do it! Remember, they are always right and superior beings to us mere plebs. They are gifts from god.

If you wish to play with fire then there is a fine, difficult to hone skill in saying things that make management look good, while simultaneously outing them as cretins…use of humour, irony and idioms can do this but it’s not for those without ba--s. Personally I get a rather sadistic kick out of getting one over on the Neanderthals…

Best option has been mentioned before, commit these word to memory: yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir. Inshallah.

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Post ID: @lzzk+1qos0hsl

I agree with that; no criticisms and no mistakes allowed. Even though that is a way to grow and learn, if offered and accepted in a mature fashion. I always found that a bit weird.

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Post ID: @lndl+1qos0hsl

The problem with the use of first principles is that there is room for error, miscalculations and mistakes. Better to concentrate on the presentation slides and leave the possible mistakes to some expat. Great Presentation = Great Job

They seem to have discovered this in E&P and Refining/Petrochemicals over 10 years ago.

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Post ID: @kfiw+1qos0hsl

Agreed, absolutely; those young bucks can sure drive the h3ll outta that MS PowerPoint. On a deeper level, I am not sure if that is such a good thing or not. Me, being an old f-rt dinosaur, felt like that skill should be 'back seated' to the basic fundamentals and first principles of E&P, which as we all know, is an art as much as a skill/science. Perhaps more effort and time should be expended in original thought and 'out of the box' thinking and maybe a bit less effort expended on software navigation.

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Post ID: @kdls+1qos0hsl

Aramco: Home of the Elite Power Point Rangers!

Many a time I had to ask a young Saudi PDP how to fix an animation gone wrong on a slide. And they always knew.

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Post ID: @igdx+1qos0hsl

You’re forgetting the number 1 skill required to survive here - kissing a$$ and acting like a pet dog. Go fetch!

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Post ID: @ifse+1qos0hsl

I'll second that! Used PowerPoint more than Petrel E&P software.

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Post ID: @hnoc+1qos0hsl

Right or wrong, PowerPoint is definitely the most important tool at SA.

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Post ID: @gsua+1qos0hsl

Some great stories that bring back memories. Expats actually get punished for doing meaningful work, thinking outside of the box or using initiative. Woe betide the expat that actually proposes a great idea- what a completely horrible, sc--wed up, toxic culture!
It is quite clear to me that the Aramco is an organization in distress, one step closer to the corporate coffin everyday.

The questions remain: How much loot can local managers extract before they disappear on their (unlawfully obtained) foreign passports? How long before all of the aramco profit centers get hived off to corrupt JVs? How long before there are only 3rd world expats left?

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Post ID: @fslv+1qos0hsl

Our division started by having one PDP make a 5-10 min technical presentation during the monthly division meeting. It was a learning experience for the PDPs, research, preparing a presentation, and then preparing it. Then the KPIs came in, and this practice became a KPI.

Then a new manager came in, and decided that these presentations were not Profesional enough. So the more senior people/expats had to start preparing more technical presentations and the time was upped to 30min, in order to meet the KPI.

So someone now had to spend 3-4 days in a month to prepare for a meaningless presentation.

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Post ID: @ebxg+1qos0hsl

I once spent 18 months rehearsing the same strategy deck with all manner of dullards, loudmouths and general fcuktards. The final outcome was that it eventually became part of some other “strategy” that was copy/pasted by goons from BCG, who took all credit. Literally wasted over 2 years of my career! Somehow I maintained my sanity, but only just. Takes a certain type of personality to cope with that kind of psychological damage.

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Post ID: @ehpu+1qos0hsl

My story on presentations: Our division, quite large, approximately 100 individuals give are or take, had a requirement for one of seven or so groups to present on a topic weekly. These forced presentations, to an audience of 30 -50 people, which were designed originally to be informative and educational, devolved into an opportunity for individuals to grandstand and show their 'brilliance' to higher ups and management. If you could point out any issue or disagree with a point, get your voice heard and be seen then maybe you could get your 'stock' to rise within the division. The whole process became worthless with the intellectual 'g-nslingers' having it out weekly. A pure b-stardization of a good and useful idea of the weekly presentation. IMO anyway.

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Post ID: @eqlo+1qos0hsl

Do not ever take anything that management tells you at face value. There is always a hidden agenda, and is it never about finding out the truth. Among poker players there is an old saying that goes ... "if you don't know who the su---r at the table is ... the su---r is you". Expats, especially new Expats, play the role of "su---r at the table". That is one of the reasons that management doesn't mind high employee turnover. As an Expat, if you don't know the REAL story, limit your involvement to an absolute minimum. Get EVERYTHING in writing, and always cc your boss. You are not there to shine, that is for wasta having Saudis only. Just collect your pay check and try to last long enough to meet your financial goals, then GTFO. Just remember, it is all for show, everybody lies, and you aren't contributing anything real anyway.

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Post ID: @dncx+1qos0hsl

Some years back, they helicopters in a high potential (mega wasta) individual into our department so that he could make a high profile presentation to senior management. Said individual needed lots of coaching to get ready for it. In the process, he kept asking lots of stupid questions, and the expat who prepared the presentation got very frustrated as this was going on. You could hear it in the tone of his coaching.

Presentation went well, and the presenter was praised for doing a good job. Come evaluation time, he gave the expat an M, for some BS reasons. Truth was, he did not appreciate the tone of the coaching.

Problem was, it was during the time when an M placed you on the layoff list. Be very careful out there.

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Post ID: @dsyu+1qos0hsl

The expat being fired because of a presentation (previous story), reminds me of an expat who was assigned to do a deep dive into the drilling portion of the business. This guy knew his stuff and the information he was able to put together was insanely deep, insightful, and accurate. He could back everyone of this conclusions with mutiple facts and sources. Unfortunately, the presentation did not paint Aramco in a good light. But he was determined to present the truth and solutions to remedy the issues.......exactly what every low performing organization wants and needs to hear. That presentation was a bloodbath.....the Saudi management and VP tore him a new b-hole and essentially called him incompetent and a liar. The other expats who knew that the presentation was spot on sat on their hands. The HR expat was in a position to assist with the personnel side of the presentation sat on his hands and did nothing. And these 2 chaps were good friends. Then when the expat bloodbath of 2020 rolled around, the HR expat again sat on his hands and did nothing to either protect or warn his buddy. The presenting expat was one of the first out the door and the HR expat is still in Drilling....sitting on his hands. Moral of the story.....don't EVER give the Saudi's bad news and don't EVER trust that another expat will come to your aid.

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Post ID: @crzj+1qos0hsl

My favorite dry run story is right before a major presentation to all the C-level execs. The guy who was supposed to be giving the presentation kept being interrupted because the numbers on the slides needed to be changed. They had a low level expat putting the numbers together, but he kept needing to change them because this or that department would change its assumptions. The change in the numbers changed the story, so other items on the slide needed to be changed as well. The Expat dealing with this mess had been working 24 hours straight trying to satisfy everybody, but it was non-stop chaos with this or that bigshot throwing his weight around. While this is pretty typical of the way Aramco does things, this case was particularly bad. The guy doing the presentation blamed the Expat, of course. The presentation went OK, mostly because the presenter had political support, but things didn't go well for the Expat in question. When a thank you email was sent out to those who participated, the Expat's name was missing. Nobody, and I mean nobody, stuck up for this Expat. Not his Saudi boss, not his other Expat coworkers, not the people who kept changing the assumptions. Nobody. The Expat eventually ended up being quietly downsized. When I look at the open positions on Aramco's job board, quite a few of them involve putting together data from different areas of Aramco, just like the kind of work this Expat was doing. It used to be that if you found yourself in a similar situation to this Expat, somebody would stick up for you, not anymore. You are going to be on your own with no job security, so you had better take that into consideration if your work depends on input or support from others. So, while sitting through these dry runs coaching some dimwit can be exhausting, it is far, far, far better than being the guy who put together the data in the first place.

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Post ID: @ayoy+1qos0hsl

@9pey+1qos0hsl

It costs best part of 5k SAR per person per year, on top of the iqama fees of around 600SAR last time I paid. So just under 10k USD for my family to stay with me at Aramco comes out of my pocket each year….

If you’re d-mb enough you can now “buy” KSA residency for just over 200K USD!! Insanity.

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Post ID: @actw+1qos0hsl

ca·ve·at emp·tor
noun
the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made.
"caveat emptor still applies when you are buying your house"

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Post ID: @9pqv+1qos0hsl

Never assume any potential year end bonus as part of your base decision to go over there. It should be the stated salary minus all the government imposed expat fees.

Things like school fees and travel money are never a bonus into your ban account.

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Post ID: @9uce+1qos0hsl

Now with the premium residency will be only 5000 SAR for five years if your monthly salary is higher than 35000 SAR. So if is less than that will be 100000 SAR per year.

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Post ID: @9pey+1qos0hsl

I used SAIP to pay Iqamas and visas, yes, you need to pay yearly and was increasing year by year

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Post ID: @8zls+1qos0hsl

I realize that annual increases have been paltry since the SAIP came onboard, but shouldn't you look at the total compensation package? Meaning factor in the SAIP, and all other adjustments including paycheck benefits, repat, boarding school, RIP, etc.... Come up with one number and see if you can accept the deal or not. If no, leave. If you are frugal and compare your net worth on a yearly basis. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I know that I was.

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Post ID: @8unb+1qos0hsl

SAIP is an annual bonus. The point below is about a lack of even CoL increments, over a few years this means the salary quickly becomes uncompetitive. It’s not rocket science.

FWIW the SAIP maxes at 15% for most, that’s not even worth writing home about. It’s amusing how local managers think this is some kind of amazing deal, they have no idea.

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Post ID: @8yfm+1qos0hsl

You forgot to factor in that yearly whopping SAIP payment.

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Post ID: @7vid+1qos0hsl

Not harsh at all from my personal experience. I’ve had a total of three pay increases since I started:

Year one (0.06%)
Year two (1.06%)
Year three (1.1%)

So a whopping 2.22% over three years, that’s a real terms cut, not even a freeze. Inflation in KSA was 3.5% last year alone.

I don’t know of any expats in my Admin area that have been promoted, perhaps it’s unique to my area, but I think not.

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Post ID: @7sct+1qos0hsl

A bit harsh. Pay is not frozen forever as a commentator says. There are annual pay increases to be fair. People also get promoted.

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Post ID: @6qqc+1qos0hsl

Su-k it up and take the cash. Leave when you’ve hit your target. Don’t waste time or your mental health overthinking anything. The culture in Aramco is not going to change based anything you can do, indeed from my observation it’s getting worse and more dysfunctional by the day. The only thing you can do is look after number one, keep healthy, keep happy, focus on things you enjoy.

If you’re one of the newer intake that has joined on a low salary, then frankly, more fool you. There’s so much content on the web about how Aramco treats expats these days, to surmise: Your career is now over, you’ve become a bagman- pay, prospects, promotions are now frozen in perpetuity. Good luck!!

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Post ID: @5wqy+1qos0hsl

"Embrace it, and accept the cast you get at the end of the month." That's a classic line management talk while skirting round other issues that will never change. Well, this is what it's all about to die professionally and dying ain't much of a living.

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Post ID: @3vzm+1qos0hsl

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