Here in Saudi Arabia, we commonly call pick-up trucks “waneet.” I wonder if any of my Saudi readers have ever tried to know where does that word come from. Turki Al Dakheel (Arabic) says this word, like many words that we use in our everyday life, especially in the Eastern Province, has something to do with Saudi Aramco. Back in the days, when Aramco was still in its infancy, they had several missions for oil prospection and exploration. As these mission were located in remote areas where basic supplies are not available, pick-up trucks had to visit them periodically to provide them with life necessities. These truck used to carry serial numbers which started with (18). Employees started to call these trucks which supplied them with food and water “one-eight,” which over time has become “waneet.” Aramco were the first to bring such trucks to the country, and therefore people eventually called every pick-up truck that has come later “waneet,” inside and outside Aramco.
The effect of the oil company on life in the Eastern Province was not limited to language. The presence of Aramco has also affected people’s lives in the region on many different levels. It is very rare that you would find anyone here who does not have a relationship – direct or indirect – with the company or someone who worked for them. My grandfather has worked as a driver for Aramco, but shortly left the company to go back to his original job as a carpenter. His eldest son, my uncle, used also to work for Aramco, and has recently retired. Saudi Aramco manifests the prefect example for a corporation that is wholly owned by the government. As one of the largest oil companies in the world, they are not only financially successful, but they also show a great commitment to the local community and environment. Some people say Aramco has changed very much since its management moved from the Americans to Saudis, and by this they mean it has been plagued by corruption and racism. However, if you ask any young man here about the job of his dream there is a big chance he would say “Aramco.”