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Trainee Blog

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At home in Saudi

Hi everyone,

Three months have flown by since I last wrote. As I mentioned last, I have had the chance to stay on in Saudi and I love every minute of my experience here. Whenever I land in Riyadh the passport officer says something around the lines of “welcome home to your second home”. Not only is it very welcoming, but it resonates; I really feel like this has become my home.

As the others have already written, we had our second trainee week in Stockholm in February. It was really great meeting everyone again. Although we stay in touch, mostly over Snapchat, it is quite different meeting in person and exchanging experiences.

Right after the trainee week I touched down in Riyadh for 48 hours, then we headed to Kuwait for an international investment conference for Iraq. We do not always have time for these types of activities so it was great that we were able to go this time. Several Swedish businesses and local distributors were present, as well as Iraqi ministers, prime minister Abadi and now former Secretary of State Tillerson. We are working on two projects tied to Iraq at the moment so it is even more valuable to get to meet the business community in person.

At the Iraq conference, the Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Alluaibi to the right

Another big thing that has happened since I last wrote is of course that Peter has joined our team! It is not only great from a work perspective, but Saudi has gotten quite a bit more fun – you can always trust that he is up for doing things. Some of the more memorable things we have done include four wheeling in the desert and going on a road trip to Bahrain. I doubt he will slow down as he gets older, but his birthday was last week so we also took the opportunity to have a long breakfast out on town together.

The Swedish boys, also my neighbours – Måns in the middle is also new!

Four wheeling at the red sand dunes here in Riyadh

With the boys in Bahrain
Peter’s birthday breakfast
Traditional Saudi food with the Nordics and the Netherlands – the greyish meat is camel

In terms of work we have had quite a lot on out plates. Last week we concluded an innovation project with an event at the residence and in addition to several Saudi projects, as I mentioned, we have two projects tied to Iraq, one to Jordan and two potential ones in Oman and Palestine. We were also in Jeddah a few weeks back to deliver a mid-term report for our largest project. It is safe to say I am getting a very diverse experience even though I am staying here in Saudi. I know that the new trainees for next year have just been offered spots for the program, if any of you are reading, congratulations! I am of course biased, but I am keeping my fingers crossed some of you end up in MEA. It is the place to be, I could not have asked for a better placement.

Innovation Circle at the Swedish residence.

Next time I will give you an update focused more on our current projects (you can also follow us on twitter @businessSweME), but for now I will finish off with some photos from this past weekend when a couple of us Scandis went to Cairo and Alexandria to celebrate Easter!

Cairo, the Swedish embassy and the citadel

The pyramids in Giza and the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria

Take care,

Linnéa Strand