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GIS Factory in Dammam

My Saudi Set-up

In late spring 2016, the discussion started on whether I would be willing to take over a new role within ABB as a local BU Manager for the 'High Voltage Product' business in Saudi Arabia.

In this new role, I would also take over the responsibility for the newly built GIS factory of ABB in Dammam, which would serve Saudi Arabia to start with, and at a later stage the entire gulf region.

My new office would be located in Dammam at the Arabian Gulf - in Europe also called the Persian Gulf. With 4.2 million inhabitants, the Dammam metropolitan area is similar to the Greater Boston area, Massachusetts, but covering a much larger area ( approx. 800 km² ). Dammam is also the home of 'Saudi Aramco' and the Saudi oil industry.


For my wife it would have been a 'no-go' to live in Saudi Arabia, as there would be too many restrictions in the sense that she would be too much limited in here options to move around on her own, because she would e.g. not be allowed to drive a car, etc.

Therefore, we decided to organize ourselves in a different way. My wife would stay in Bahrain, and I would stay during the week in Dammam and on the weekend, I would be in Bahrain as well. Thus, I would be kind of a weekly resident in Saudi Arabia and commuting between Dammam and Bahrain, which is not as bad as it may sound, as Dammam and Bahrain are connected with a bridge.

It still takes 1.5 hrs to drive from Manama to Dammam. There are some expats and even Saudi Nationals (sic!), who are doing that on a daily base, but I was simply not willing to spend 3 hrs in the car every day commuting between the two places, also knowing that my new assignment would not be an '8-to-5' job.