Under the patronage of King Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the leaders of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Saudi Aramco kicked off its 75th Anniversary celebration May 20 as government officials, company executives, employees and invited guests gathered to welcome the King and GCC leaders at enormous tents near the Saudi Aramco Exhibit in Dhahran.

The program began with a tour through an exhibition showcasing Saudi Aramco’s story in historic images, detailed timelines and innovative displays of the company’s key operations.

Among the sensory barrage of sights and sounds of the past 75 years, the highlight of the exhibit was a simple yet monumental document – the original signed concession agreement between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Standard Oil of California, displayed in a glass case.

Following the tour, guests were ushered into a newly erected tent-like structure created for the main celebration as King Abdullah welcomed everyone to the historic event and set the tone of pride and gratitude for everything that Saudi Aramco has accomplished for the Kingdom and its people.

“On this occasion, we celebrate the passing of 75 years of national growth,” said King Abdullah, “so thank you very much to the men and women of Saudi Aramco.

“The country has given Saudi Aramco what it needs to become successful and exceptional,” the King said. “It gave the company fl exibility with which it nationalized technologies and gained from international experience in the necessary fi elds and industries.”

King Abdullah praised Saudi Aramco not only for its role in national development but also for its role in supporting the “The country has given Saudi Aramco what it needs to become successful and exceptional,” the King said.

Kingdom’s international relations by providing energy to the world and effectively dealing with global energy crises whenever they happen.

In his speech, Ali I. Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, talked about Saudi Aramco’s long history from the time of King Abdulaziz, the Kingdom’s founder, to the present and how much it has propelled this country to where it stands today.

75 Anniversary

King Abdullah, center, visits with some of the young performers at the 75th Anniversary celebration as, from left, HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah; HRH Prince Mohammed ibn Fahd; HE Fahd ibn Mahmood Al-Saeed, Deputy Premier of Oman; HRH Prince Mish’al ibn Abdulaziz; HRH Prince Abdulaziz ibn Salman; Khalid A. Al-Falih; and Abdallah S. Jum‘ah look on. (Photo by Hasan M. Al-Taraiki)

He also emphasized the pivotal role of King Abdullah in the past decade in supporting and guiding several key mega projects and energizing Saudi Arabia’s economic and industrial capabilities, all for the sake of the people and the Kingdom.

“Today, our employees, both Saudi and expat, recall 75 years of dedication and hard work to build and develop Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, an industry that has spread its wealth and prosperity throughout the Kingdom, from north to south and east to west,” said Al-Naimi.

“While I realize there are no words to convey how much this event means to the Kingdom and to Saudi Aramco,” Al-Naimi said, “I want to, through this speech, highlight the sense of appreciation and pride for all who have left their mark through-out our history of oil production. This industry will continue to bring progress and advancements in the future, thanks in no small part to the support of our country’s leadership, as well as to the dedication, hard work and innovation of this company’s valued employees.”

President & CEO Speaks

Jum’ah spoke next, reflecting upon the company’s successful past and promising future, and expressing on behalf of Saudi Aramco’s employees their pride for being part of this historic moment and for working in the home of the Saudi oil industry.

“We are proud to have inherited a strong tradition of devotion and dedication to our work,” said Jum‘ah, “as well as a culture that we call the culture of Saudi Aramco, built on the discipline, commitment, reliability and accountability of each and every employee. Under the guidance of our country, the company has been allowed to work independently and on pure business acumen — two key elements in the success of Saudi Aramco and its competitive prowess.

“This industry will continue to bring progress and advancements in the future, thanks in no small part to the support of our country’s leadership, as well as to the dedication, hard work and innovation of this company’s valued employees.”

Jum’ah introduced Saudi Aramco’s latest gift to the Kingdom, the King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture, to be erected in that very spot near the Saudi Aramco Exhibit. A short fi lm outlined the center’s purpose and all that it would offer to the people of the country.

After the speeches, 75 children came on stage to entertain the guests, dancing to Arabic songs written specially for Saudi Aramco and its 75th Anniversary, followed by gifts given to King Abdullah and the GCC leaders.

King and Families From there, the anniversary celebration moved to the King’s Road complex in Dhahran, where a representative group of families welcomed King Abdullah and the GCC leaders in a re-creation of King Abdulaziz’s historic second visit in 1947.

This celebration was, in part, a re-enactment of that visit, from the setup of the tents down to the visitors, dressed as they would have been in the 1940s. Costumes included women’s white gloves and hats.

Miles Snyder, who was one of the children who shook hands with King Abdulaziz in 1947, said a few words about both momentous occasions, then and now. “What was the 1947 event like? It was wonderful,” said Snyder. “We American kids were able to shake the hand of a real King!

King Abdullah and guests wait for the 75th Anniversary celebration to begin. On the left is HH the Amir of
Kuwait, Shaikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. To the right are HM the King of Bahrain, Shaikh Hammad ibn Isa AlKhalifah, and HE Fahd ibn Mahmood Al-Saeed, Deputy Premier of Oman. (Photo by Abdullah Y. Al-Dobais)

The proposed King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture, shown here in an architectural image, was announced May 20 in Dhahran by Abdallah S. Jum‘ah as part of the 75th Anniversary celebration.

The proposed King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge and Culture, shown here in an architectural image, was announced May 20 in Dhahran by Abdallah S. Jum‘ah as part of the 75th Anniversary celebration.

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali I. AlNaimi and a young Saudi performer present a gift from Saudi Aramco to King Abdullah at the 75th Anniversary celebrations. (Photo by Abdullah Y. Al-Dobais)

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali I. AlNaimi and a young Saudi performer present a gift from Saudi Aramco to King Abdullah at the 75th Anniversary celebrations. (Photo by Abdullah Y. Al-Dobais)

The 75th Anniversary celebration was a sensory barrage of sights and sounds. (Photo by Abdullah Y. Al-Dobais)

The 75th Anniversary celebration was a sensory barrage of sights and sounds. (Photo by Abdullah Y. Al-Dobais)

We all remember the event well. We remember the sight of the King, seated in a large easy chair atop a colorful carpet, with a little table with cookies on it beside him. He was surrounded by his colorful retinue, including many of his sons.

“Today, we join not as children but as adults; many of us are grandparents,” Snyder said. “When we were young, that sense of magic was everywhere, living as we did in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Snyder said of his experiences. “Each of us regards ourselves richer, wiser, more tolerant and understanding because of this great adventure.”

Snyder concluded his remarks with a request: “Just as we had the honor of being photographed with your father, King Abdulaziz, may we please have the honor of being photographed with you?”

Soon afterwards, King Abdullah and his guests watched a series of international folklore performances. Children performed dances from “The Phantom of the Opera,” along with a Latino segment and a khaliji dance. The performances concluded with the ardah, a traditional sword dance performed by Saudi Aramco employees and expats.

Lydia Fitzmorris, speaking on behalf of employees and families, addressed the King in Arabic, saying, “Your visit makes the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Saudi Aramco an unforgettable event in our lives and those of our children.”