Friday, May 30, 2014

Assignment: Jeddah

I just found out where my next post will be: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This will actually be my second assignment (DC was my first assignment), but it's my first overseas posting with the Department of State. So, I guess that technically that makes this my true "Flag Day."

The Flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
So, naturally, one of my first questions (after all the obvious ones) was "What does the writing on the flag actually say?" It turns out that Wikipedia knows that too: It's the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith.
"There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God"
Now to hit the interwebs and find more about expat life in the KSA. One of the better blogs I've found so far is Jeddah-blog.com, not to mention all of the State Department resources and these ex-pat blogs.

For those following along, our FSCE bid season opened on 11 March and I submitted my bids ranked 1-10 (accounting for factors like job scope, school facilities, and general lifestyle) by 21 March, even though I only needed to submit 6 preferences. Just over two months later, I was approached by the office director to ask me if I'd take an assignment to Jeddah (which wasn't even on my ranked list). As it turns out, many of the projects I bid on fell apart in any number of the following ways: lack of funding, lack of host country approvals/permits; design issues; contractor issues. You name it, it can kill a project. So, I'm happy I've been assigned to one that's actually going to happen, and will now begin the process of preparing to head overseas yet again. And that includes starting the self-taught Saudi Arabic language lessons through FSI, as engineers rarely get formal language training.
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