I arrived safely! It was a very long flight and with all of the time changes I sort of lost a whole day...Flying business class is really nice but actually it doesn't matter with such a long flight and a bundle of nerves - I couldn't sleep anyway!
The airport in Dammam is just like any other airport. It is simple but nice on the inside - very clean. Going through immigration was basically the same as any other country I have visited. The lines are long and things move slowly. As luck would have it I was standing behind three other obviously American women that were going to Saudi Aramco for a conference on Patient Centered Care starting on Monday. The security men went down the lines checking documents - saw we were going to Aramco and pulled us out of the long line and let us go to the front. It still took a while - fingerprints and photos and a long delay to get our passports back but no hassel really. Next off to collect my luggage - 3 VERY heavy bags that I was very stressed about getting to the checkpoint. No worries - a young man with a cart met me immediately to collect my bags - he just wanted a tip : ) Which I gladly gave him!!! He got all of the bags off and through customs - no problem there either. I was warned they would open everything and look at every single item....they didn't even open the bag. Just sent them through x-ray and 10 minutes later I was off.
My co-worker, Carmel, was waiting to meet me as promised. It was very crowded with people meeting people as they arrived - very busy! We went to the Aramco lounge to meet our driver and get my papers and house key. The Saudi gentleman that helped with my papers and key was very nice. Very polite and kind. The driver took my bags and we headed for the camp. Dammam airport is about 30 minutes or so from Dhahran.
I had Sunday to explore, unpack and rest. There is a military base not far from the camp so I awoke to the F-17s flying their maneuvers - kind of scary at first. My apartment is very nice. A 1 bedroom town home with a kitchen/living area downstairs and a bedroom/bathroom up. I have a nice patio downstairs and a large deck off the bedroom. All of the appliances - even the garbage disposal - are brand new. The ceramic tile and carpet are brand new. I have everything needed to start the day. I am right on the the golf course - with a 3.5 mile walking trail and about a block from the mini market if I need groceries. There is a beautiful park about 3 blocks away and right now the weather is PERFECT for walking. I only brought my clothes so there are a ton of things I need - not the least of which is an alarm clock!!!
I started work today....pretty much information overload. I met most everyone I will be working with. I will actually have 8 analysts working for me. They are mostly from UK and Australia but a couple are from the US. I have a nice office - about 2xs as big as my old one with a nice big window. With Joint Commission coming in less than 6 months that is pretty much the focus of everyone's attention. One of the ladies gave me a tour of the compound tonight. It is larger than I thought and my house is quite a ways from the hospital so I will definitely be riding the bus. My rush hour commute today took about 10 minutes going to and from work!! That was nice : )
The compound is very secure - 2 checkpoints to get in and then once you are in the main gate you have another check point to get through to anything like housing, the hospital, etc. I visited the ED today (just for a tour!) and it was very nice - almost like any one of HCA's. They are a level 1 trauma center and are well equiped for anything that might come along. The hospital acutally serves 70,000 Aramco employees and their families living in the Kingdom. It seems to stay quite busy. I met so many people today including the "CEO". They all seem very nice - very diverse. Apparently I got quite the build up becuase they were very excited to meet me and more the willing to help with anything I might need. As I said, the compound is very quiet and secure - people don't even lock their cars here....
Well, tomorrow is another day. I have already got the hookup for a church, a dog, a houseboy, a gardner and some used furniture!!! Oh and someone to take me horse back riding : ) lol. Anyway, the jet lag is about to get the best of me. I need to sleep tonight and be awake tomorrow day!! I have my orientation to the company on Wednesday and 3 days of hospital orientation next week. Maybe I will go into town over the weekend - I will see how adventursome I am feeling!