At a recent opening ceremony in Jubail, a senior Saudi Aramco executive spoke of his desire to see his grandson grow up to become an engineer for a South Korean contractor, working on a project in Chile.
The executive explained that he had only chosen Chile because it was far away and helped him make his point. The point being that young Saudi Arabians have to be raised to think they are capable of doing anything.
When it comes to local engineering talent, the kingdom is not what anyone would call a world leader in terms of numbers.
However, many of the Saudi engineers working for Aramco or other major companies are world-class petroleum or project engineers.
It is these engineers, the ones who attended university in the 1960s and 1970s and are now occupying senior positions in the kingdom’s hydrocarbons industry, who are leading the charge to encourage young Saudis to emulate their success.
Saudi’s business leaders are desperate to end years of malaise and want to leave a lasting legacy in the form of thousands of young engineers taking up positions with multi-national companies, as well as the local heavyweights.
It is clear now that the years of international companies being able to win work in Saudi Arabia and carry it out in offices in Houston, Paris or Seoul is also coming to an end.
Initiatives are already coming to fruition with South Korea’s Samsung Engineering, France’s Technip and the US’ Jacobs Engineering offering Saudi nationals the chance to be trained to international standards.
With such plans falling into place, the Aramco executive should start to think about finding his young grandson a language teacher that specialises in Korean and Spanish.