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Black Gold That Changed Three Generations



Black Gold That Changed Three Generations


To my father who raising me well and ensures I receive the best education. To my grandmother whose life teaches me resilience and the value of working well. She turns 90 in two years and I wish her a longer life.

To the Almighty for giving me an abundant life full of opportunities and good tidings every day.

In researching this project, I talked to my grandmother and my father. Talking to them was enlightening and it was surprising that there was a huge part of their life that I did not know about.  The two of them, they were also surprised about why I wanted to know about their lives now but nonetheless were glad that I was asking. I chose my grandmother because she is 88 years old. I wanted to learn what her younger years were like and their daily living in the past. I chose my father because I admire how hard he works to see that his children live the best lives. He is a firm believer in education and I hope that I make him very proud one day. My grandmother shapes my ideologies because she has seen it all and wishes I live my best life. My father is my role model and I look up to him for guidance.Black Gold That Changed Three Generations

In this research, I will focus on three themes: history, economics and education. While talking to my grandmother about her past I realised the theme of history. I asked her about her child hood. ‘Being born in 1930 was to be born in hardship. Back then there was very little to live for. We often starved for lack of food,’ Grandmother. This painted for me a life of hardship in the old Saudi Arabia. I asked her what their towns looked like and she said, ‘We did not have any roads, hospitals or the electricity that you enjoy today. Our houses were made of very poor material like straw,’ said grandmother. I was very surprised and wondered how they could live like this. History is the story of past generations and often times; it shapes the future as learnt in class. In the past, life was hard for people like grandmother who made a living in small things like selling firewood or hoarding camels. I was curious about if there were any jobs back then and she responded, ‘There were not many jobs that could sustain people and often times, the heads of families had to go to India or Syria to earn a living and come back to their people,’ said grandmother. Ours is a sad history I thought as I imagined my countrymen traveling all those miles to better the lives of their families.

In class, we learnt that history is a collection of events connected with a person or thing. While talking to my grandmother, I was gaining a perspective of the events that shaped her life and the lives of other Arabs back then. I asked if their king could help the situation. She had this to say, ‘The king’s palace did not have much to survive on as his only source of revenue was taxing religious pilgrims who passed in the countryside on their way to mecca.’ This does not seem like enough money to help a kingdom and his people. Our history is plagued with tough lives and a poor economy that is nothing to write home about. However, like the history of most people in the class readings, life is not always the same. There is always a changing point. I wanted to know what our changing point was and how I enjoy the riches of present day Saudi Arabia. ‘Life changed for the best after the discovery of the black gold which is oil. The king had for a long time searched for the possibility of oil in this country to improve the life of his people. For a long time, only disappointment kept coming but he did not give up. When oil was discovered, it raked in a lot of money and led to the Saudi Arabia you now know,’ said grandmother. History is supposed to be passed on to younger generations form older generations. I always thought that oil was an overnight discovery. Talking to grandmother however revealed that it was once just a dream and a rumour and a not so sure possibility. I imagined the king receiving bad news after bad news but still persevering. Such is the history that shaped my background.

I realised the theme of economics as I was talking to my father. While grandmother had told me about past economic activities in their history, she did not know much about the economics that followed after the discovery of oil. My father was born in 1962 a few decades after oil was discovered. Economic development determines if a country grows or stagnates.  I asked what the economy was like. ‘In my younger years I was merely an observant. Life was improving in small bits after the oil was discovered. However, a big part of it was controlled by the United States companies. Our economy as a result was still young.’ Economics determine how a country thrives and in the 70s Saudi had stopped collecting taxes from pilgrims because they were no longer as many. The king was focussed on oil and changing the fortunes of his people. ‘When I turned 18, in 1980, Saudi Arabia phased out the control of foreign companies who by then were sharing in half our profits. Suddenly there were a lot of job opportunities for young men and I joined the oil industry working my way from the simplest job to the position I hold today.’Black Gold That Changed Three Generations

The economics of Saudi Arabia today are generally better which has improved the quality of life. ‘Today, the government is not only reliant on oil but also taxes the foreign corporations that invest in our country,’ said father. Saudi Arabia today enjoys one of the biggest economies in the world, thanks to the discovery of oil.

Finally, I will address the theme of education. I realised this theme while talking to both my father and grandmother. Education is usually as a result of a thriving nation. ‘I did not receive any formal education. In my day there were no schools and only informal education was offered by elders. The boys were taught to hunt while the girls were taught to care for homes.’ Grandmother. In class, we have learnt that education takes many forms and is present in every culture. Although grandmother did not go to a regular school, she received the education that was important at their time. In class we have learnt of education being a necessity like it was in my father’s case. ‘Saudi Arabia was growing fast and industries were setting up as well as other jobs. Small schools that taught to read and write emerged and I went to school to acquire an education.’ Education serves a need and at my father’s time, it was important to gain education if you wanted a good job and a better life. Education opens a world of opportunities as seen in class readings. ‘As a result of education, a lot of Saudi’s workforce is countrymen who benefited from education,’ says Father.

I see myself in all their stories. My grandmother is a part of the history of my people and an important aspect of examples of life changes. The economy of my country was once nothing to write home about but I now enjoy a modern life thanks to the contributions of those who came before me. Because my father was educated, that is probably why I am in school receiving a better education than he did. All the events that shaped this two peoples’ lives have changed mine for the better as well. Other than history, their stories portray, hope, confidence and overcoming hardship. This course has also shaped my life largely. The readings model me into a powerful woman who is ready to help her generation achieve their best potential. I now have the skills to survive the career world.


Black Gold That Changed Three Generations


No. Date Subject Relation to subject Method of interview Length of interview
1. 6th November, 2018 Nadia  Grandmother Phone 1 hour
2. 7th November, 2018 Mohammed Father Phone 1 hour