En Route to Jubail

Posted by Abdel Kadz on Monday, March 30, 2009 with 14 comments
I asked the driver where we were heading and how long it would take us to get there. “Whoa” was the only thing I could say when he replied it would take about an hour to get to the hospital in Jubail. I thought they would be bringing me to my accommodation first to at least have a few hours of sleep after all that traveling; at this time, I had been a walking zombie for 32 hours. For weird reasons, I did not feel as heavy-eyed as I should be having been awake that long, maybe because I was so anxious to crash head on with what was in store for me on the way to my new work place. I took this, though, as an opportunity to sightsee what Dammam-Jubail had to offer, and sightsee these easternmost cities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia I did.

I had never seen vastness like the outskirts en route to Jubail. It is not desert-like, mind you, but you just visually take in this great expanse of untenanted land--okay, maybe a few structures here and there--on both sides of the roads. The streets were wide, about four, six lanes that the drive was smooth and unadulterated by traffic. Exiting Dammam and then entering Jubail, passing by this long stretch of road the name of which fails me now, on a windswept Tuesday morning, was where I got to experience my first sandstorm.

To the left of my peripheral vision formed this cloud of dust that was slowly heading our direction. I have seen sandstorms from “The Mummy” movies, so I knew how it looked like and had a fair grasp of what to expect, but the one I encountered was not as cinematically grandiose, you know, with the monstrosity that was the face of Imhotep. What I saw were fine tads of earth being swept by the gusts of winds and the roads almost zero-vision brought upon by its mishmash with the fog. No wonder why cars here are grubby and houses architecturally built to reduce the likelihood of these specks of dust from wreaking havoc inside their homes. Straight ahead, and after turning a corner, we then crossed the threshold to the town proper of the Industrial City of Jubail.

You would have expected that with the word “industrial” in the name of a city to see skyscrapers or big establishments or shopping centers or any of the sorts. On the contrary, Jubail has neither apart from a big expanse of land solely for the use of a massive oil refinery plant. It is so huge that it is twice or triple the size of Makati City. The oil they are amassing may have been unimaginable. When everybody the world over was troubled by the rising pump prices that go on to have a domino effect on everything economics, underneath the earth we were passing lay an immeasurable amount of wealth, wealth that keeps the Middle Eastern economy afloat and natives banking on their government for livelihood. This is the most likely reason I see why most people who do the work for or with them are expatriates, foreign nationals like me, simply because they have the money to pay.

It was past 11:00 A.M. when we reached and turned another bend. We were now at an exclusive compound because the lawns were scrupulously manicured and the houses mansion-like, albeit only two stories. At this point, I prayed that we were closer to our rendezvous point because my stomach was already complaining. But after turning yet another corner, passing through an entryway and moving past light posts that littered the parking lot at every curve, my prayer was finally heeded for there right smack in the middle, laved under the high-noon sunbeams and breezy Middle Eastern winter winds stood my new workplace for the next two years...

...the hospital.

To be continued…