AAPG has been
a participant in the biannual Geo Conference since it began in 1994. Geo2002
was held in Manama, Bahrain, in April and drew from not only most of the
Middle East countries, but also Europe, North Africa, Eurasia and the
Gries at Geo2002, with Ibrahim Al-Ghamdi (left) and Mahmoud Abdul Baqi.
The exhibits hall
would impress any experienced conventioneer, and the technical talks were
very worthwhile. Moujahed Al-Husseini, conference secretariat, orchestrated
the meeting and can take credit for its smooth and professional nature.
past AAPG International Liaison chair, has represented AAPG on the Geo
Technical Program for several meetings and is an excellent ambassador
AAPG at the meeting, I was pleased to have a chance to visit with our
delegates from so many different countries as well as to spend time with
the officers of the region.
The AAPG Middle
East Region has 431 members and excellent potential for growth -- and
it has a higher ratio of Active members vs. Associate members than any
other AAPG international region!
Baqi, ME president, was generous with time and ideas for AAPG -- for example,
suggesting we create a "mega-membership" for people who are qualified
for and want to join AAPG, SPE and SEG all at once. (We have since suggested
this to SPE and SEG and they are receptive to the concept).
He also had many
suggestions for increased activities and efficiencies in the International
Regions Committee -- very timely, in that his Aramco colleague, Ibrahim
Al-Ghamdi, has been recently appointed chair of that committee!
is a country of islands and thousands of years of history. Abdulkader
Al-Afifi, AAPG's Advisory Council ME representative, gave us a personal
tour of Old Spanish forts from the East Indies' spice trade days
(when this was a regular stopping place to trade in pearls on the way)
and ruins of the Dilmun civilization of 2000 BC.
I visited Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Tunisia.
Oman host, Hisham Al-Siayabi, arranged for an incredible field
trip to and through the Oman Mountains. You can see it all there! Precambrian
core exposed (which is a reservoir a few miles southwest of here!), Cretaceous
carbonates (another great reservoir) that form a "Grand Canyon" type view
with a little of the "Mesa Verde" thrown in for interest -- cliff dwelling
villages that were active until very recently when the Sultan moved the
inhabitants so they could access school buses. (Did anyone suggest that
as the reason why the Anasazi may have moved?)
Sultan Qaboos University, generously hosted a fantastic field trip that
really presented the wonderful diversity of geology and the richness of
history and culture. The Sultan of this country created the "type section"
of how oil revenues should be used to benefit developing countries!
The newly formed
Geological Society of Oman has developed great ideas for promoting geology,
petroleum education and science in the community.
UAE has an active AAPG affiliated society, Emirates Geological
Society is especially phenomenal in their field trip activities, spearheaded
by Abdulla Al Mansoori.
Abu Dhabi is
not only an incredible and modern city, the ADNOC facilities for lectures
and courses are especially good. Salem Al Matroushi, my host from ADNOC,
arranged a special sabkha field trip lead by consultant, Hesham Shebl,
fulfilling a lifetime dream of mine!
stop, the Dhahran Geoscience Society in Saudi Arabia hosted
the largest meeting I spoke to during my year as president with 300 attendees.
This active affiliated society has continually contributed volunteers
to the Region, the HoD, the International Liaison (Regions) Committee,
and is playing a huge role in our Cairo meeting in October.
Their Earth Science
Week activities would rival any society in the world.
The Aramco 3-D
visualization center just knocks a person's socks off -- it was the event
of the visit. I was able to view, in rapid-fire progression, the layers
of the world's largest field, and the world's largest 3-D seismic interpretation
played out in a few seconds before my eyes!
Al-Ghamdi, president of DGS, and Mahmoud Abdul Baqi, AAPG ME Region president,
made sure that I saw most of the important sights in Dhahran -- though
I did not have time to play golf on the famous "sand fairways" and "sand
greens" on a local course!
A special treat
however, was the lute-playing one evening by the Ali Al-Hauwaj
-- lovely music to really remember the Middle East!
Egypt stop revolved around the Cairo conference, of course.
It was my third trip there in two years -- working with these volunteers
is a pleasure for me. David Blanchard, president of the Egyptian Petroleum
Exploration Society, hosted the event and we heard from each committee
chair about their preparations for this world class conference.
A highlight was
meeting with over 100 students from three Egyptian Universities:
Cairo, Ain Shams and Al Azar. I only had 40 student membership applications
with me -- and ran out instantly. Ain Shams has just started a Student
Chapter and the others are working toward building one.
The final stop for this Middle East
tour was Tunisia. Longtime friend and AAPG International Pavilion participant,
Ali M'Rabet of ETAP, hosted a productive visit with both geologists and
students at the University of Tunisia. Definitely a country where
you want to stay for a field trip and visit the amazing historical sights
-- I felt frustrated to fly in and out so quickly -- but a return to Tunis
will be a definite goal for the pleasure of a few more days.
love to host an AAPG international conference, and it certainly has that