Two firsts for IUPUI and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bookended this intense day for the IUPUI Delegation. This morning, we travelled to the Saudi Ministry of Health to present the final report of the Demographic Health Survey 2017. This is the first time in history that a team has successfully completed such a survey to determine the level of health of Saudi citizens.
The survey included about a quarter of a million people with ten percent of those providing a sample or samples that could be tested by partners with whom we worked within the Kingdom. The outcome fit with findings on other public health surveys: people eat too much sugar and salt, need to increase their exercise, and shouldn’t smoke. In this, Saudis are similar to many people around the world.
Primary investigators at IUPUI were Constantin Yiannoutsos, professor of biostatistics in the Fairbanks School of Public Health, and Professor Angeles Martinez-Meir, Chair of the Department of Cariology, Operative Dentistry, and Dental Public Health in the School of Dentistry.
Naif Nabeel Abogazalah, doctoral student in dentistry, also played a pivotal role on this project, including bringing it to the attention of Dr. Martinez-Meir in the first place. He has also been a key member of this delegation’s trip to Saudi Arabia, helping to plan, arrange meetings, and successfully execute plans once we had arrived. In fact, Chancellor Paydar presented Naif with the pen used to sign the report during the formal presentation:
Finally, without the impressive work of biostatisticians Katie Lane and Beverly Musick and lead data manager Steve Brown, all from the Department of Biostatistics, I understand that this project would have been difficult if not impossible.
Kudos to this team as well as thanks to our colleagues at the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who were instrumental in moving this project forward:
- His Excellency the Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah
- Hani bin Abdulaziz Jokhdar, Deputy Minister of Health for Public Health
- Hisham bin Ibrahim Al-Khashshan, Assistant Deputy Minister for Primary Health Care
- Fouad Abogazalah, General Director of Health Center Affairs
- Hanafy Tantawy, PhD, Department of Homeland Security Officer
- Adel Ibrahim, MPH, DHS Data Manager
The presentation went well as did the follow up meeting, but, to be honest, the highlight for me was my selfie with Chancellor Paydar and His Excellency the Minister of Health. You can follow him on Twitter @tfrabiah.
Immediately following the presentation ceremony at the Ministry of Health, the delegation returned to our hotel to prepare for our trip to Dammam in the Eastern Province.
Where Riyahd is cosmopolitan, established, and somewhat conservative, Dammam seemed to me like a place where renegades would feel at home. If it’s meaningful to you, compare Washington, D.C. to Austin or Dallas, Texas. This comparison works, in part, because in both the Eastern Province and much of the state of Texas, the discovery of oil has shaped the landscape, the economy, and the culture.
In the Kingdom, Standard Oil of California discovered oil in 1938. Over a period of years, This original company merged with others, including what later became know as Exxon and Mobil, and became the Arabian American Oil Company. Now known as Saudi ARAMCO and owned by Saudi Arabia, the company has grown into a multi-billion-dollar corporation that has over 65,000 employees worldwide and operates the world’s largest single hydrocarbon network, the Master Gas System.
Richard Reed explains my long meditation on Saudi ARAMCO. Currently Head of Corporate Emergency Management and Continuity there, Richard generously shared his time with Chancellor Paydar this evening prior to attending the Alumni Reception.
Richard is a proud graduate of IUPUI, double majoring in social work and psychology for his bachelor’s degree in 1995 and earning his master’s degree in social work a year later. His degrees reflect his close ties to IUPUI, with the School of Social Work being an IU school, and the School of Science, a Purdue school.
Richard has led the American Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts, has held senior positions at the FEMA and the National Security Council in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. In his current position, he is systematizing emergency response efforts for Saudi ARAMCO, drawing on experience he has gained managing the American response to the Ebola crisis, assisting in earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, and facing many other crisis management challenging
Considering all of this, and so much else that Richard has achieved, it’s little wonder that he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2016 by the IU Alumni Association. An honor richly deserved.
The Alumni Reception offers the bookend at the end of the day and a marvelous welcome to the energy and dynamism of this part of the Eastern Province. The reception brought together around 30 IUPUI and IU alumni, who were eager to reminisce about their experiences and to share their current successes.
Faisal A. Alkadi graduated from the Kelley School in 2016 and was intent to share with me as much business knowledge as he possibly could. At one point, I shared with him the gesture my husband and I use when we want to change topics. Picture someone holding their right hand out, palm down, then turning their hand over with a bit of style as if turning over a playing card. I joke, but in all seriousness, Faisal credits the Kelley School with his great success in the Saudi business world where he is the business development manager of Althawaqh Food Company with 68 restaurants in the Kingdom and plans for more.
After remarks by Chancellor Paydar, I had the pleasure of visiting with Hajer Alibrahim, a recent graduate of the Herron School of Art + Design and recipient of the Windgate Fellowship from the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design. Applicants may submit material by invitation only, and the center awards only 10 fellowships per year. Based on our conversation about printmaking, book making, furniture making, and other creative endeavors, I am confident that Hajer will make extraordinary use of this award.
I feel a similar sense of confidence about the entire group of alumni gathered this evening. Only their great potential outweighs all that they have already accomplished.
Sad to say, only one more day to go here in Saudi Arabia. I’m grateful that you have been following along our journey, and I hope you return tomorrow for the last installment of the IUPUI Goes to Saudi Arabia 2018 blog with photos, updates, and stories.
Please feel free to reach out to me directly with questions at email@example.com.