Category Archives: Announcements

New Photo Site

Hey everyone!

I can’t believe that I haven’t written anything since April. I really want to be more on the ball with this. I’ve been really busy with work and trying to do fun stuff to keep my sanity. I wanted to write a quick note to let you know that I have a new photo site. I found one that I like a lot more than Flickr. It’s called SmugMug. My site is at, and I’ll have it integrated with my blog very soon.

I got a new camera this past week, so I’ll be updating the photo site pretty frequently. I already have a gallery on there called “New Camera,” so check it out.  Here’s one of the first pictures I took with the new toy.

New Category – "In the News"

I’ve decided to start posting news articles from the Gulf region, so that you know what’s going on here.  These will range from weird and hilarious to governmental policy and everything in between.  Here are a couple to start:

TAMUQ career fair draws top firms

TEXAS A&M Univer-sity at Qatar (TAMUQ) has hosted regional companies at its annual career fair as part of a week-long programme called Careers for Engineers 2008.
The event was organised by the university’s Academic Services Office for students and employers to connect with each other in time for the campus’ first graduation ceremony this May. 
Students were able to submit resumes to over 20 local companies, hiring for both internships and full time employment.
Company representatives were able to interact with students on an informal one-on-one basis and also conducted formal interviews and information sessions about their companies. 
With engineers in high demand within the country and regionally, companies are eagerly awaiting the first and subsequent classes to come out of TAMUQ.
Companies represented at the career fair included Alfardan, Oxy, Shell, Qatargas, Kahramaa, Qtel, Qapco, ExxonMobil, Q-Cert, QChem, Maersk Oil Qatar, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, GE, RasGas, Dolphin Energy, Qatar Petroleum, Halliburton, Qatar Steel, Qatar General Organisation for Standards and Metrology, Qatar Vinyl Company, and Oryx GTL.
“After attending the career fair, I am encouraged that the industry is not only looking for engineers, but Texas A&M engineers. I personally had three interviews and am hopeful that I will receive a positive reply for a summer internship,” sophomore mechanical engineering major Dani Wannous said.

US calls for Qatar to relax labour laws

US EMBASSY officials are urging a “liberalisation” of the sponsorship law to combat forced labour and human trafficking violations within Qatar.
The call comes amid increasing speculation regarding a draft law, currently awaiting approval, governing the entry and exit of foreigners, their residence and sponsorship.
The US embassy’s Charge d’Affaires, Michael Ratney, said: “Trafficking is a serious problem as many expatriate workers make arrangements to come and work in Qatar for a certain wage and a certain number of hours, but then often find themselves to be working double the hours for half the pay when they actually get here.
“The current sponsorship and labour laws mean that this practice is all too common, and we have urged the Qatari government to look into this.”
A recent human rights report commissioned by the US State Department, covering countries to which America provides foreign assistance, made uncomfortable reading regarding the lives of some expatriate workers.
It stated: “Men and women from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East travel willingly to Qatar as labourers and domestic servants but often subsequently face conditions of forced labour and physical and sexual exploitation.
“Legislation guiding the sponsorship of expatriate labourers created conditions constituting forced labour or slavery.
“The dependence of foreign labourers on their employer for residency rights and the inability to change employment or to travel without the sponsor’s permission leaves them vulnerable to abuse and arrest.”
The report pointed the finger at individual employers, contractors and recruitment agencies for the violations, adding “there is no evidence of institutional involvement by government bodies or officials”.
At a press conference held to discuss the report yesterday, Ratney admitted that Qatar had made “steady progress” in its human rights record and hoped the country could lead the way for others to follow.
He said: “With its strong leadership (Qatar) has the potential to set an example in the region.”
And part of that example would be a “liberalisation of the code that governs workers in Qatar”.
Amendments to the current sponsorship law, insisted Ratney, would benefit not only the largely expatriate workforce but also result in increased competition to the benefit of all.   
The US Department’s human rights report on Qatar for the year 2007 was based on information received from a variety of sources, including governments and multilateral institutions, national and international non-governmental groups, academics, jurists, religious groups and the media.
Ratney added that the Qatari authorities had also been extremely helpful in providing information.

Desert Trip!

crazy.jpgI got to take a trip to the desert this past weekend! It was so great. Going over the sand dunes is quite an exhilarating experience.  We didn’t quite get as crazy as the guy in the picture here, but we had some good fun.  My friend, Dave, drove us in the caravan of about 7 cars.  We went through the desert to a beach on the inland sea.  Just across the water from the beach, you could see Saudi Arabia.  It was very relaxing to hang out at the beach for several hours.  Go here to see my pics.

I think I’m going again this Friday with some other friends.  I’ll be taking my new Xterra out this time to see how it handles it.  I’m pretty pumped!

Comments are Working Again!

Hey everyone! Thanks to all of you that have left comments on my recent posts. It turns out that they were actually being submitted, but they were being held for me to moderate them before they posted to the site. The weird thing is that it wasn’t telling me I had comments awaiting moderation. It should be all fixed now, so let me know if you notice anything weird.

By the way, that’s a 2008 Nissan Xterra I’m driving. I gotta thank Clint for convincing me to buy it. I am very happy with my purchase.

Alive and Well!

Sorry I haven’t written yet.  Life in a new country is crazy, but it’s going great.  I just uploaded some pictures that you can see here.

I hope to write a little very soon to post on here.  I’m still trying to get settled in, and I’m getting there step by step.  I had to visit the doctor earlier this week, because I was really dizzy for a couple of days.  It turns out that I had ear infections in both ears.  The hospital was really nice, and I got some medicine that helped a ton.

Work is extremely busy, but I love it.  I really love the people I work with.  Check this out.  My team of 7 people is represented by 7 different countries:  Germany, India, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, and the US.  That’s right, I’m the only American.  What an awesome experience!  The team dynamic is nothing like I’ve ever experienced.  The cultural differences are interesting and fun, and everyone is very helpful.  I really do love it.

More to come!

I'm Here!

I just wanted to write a quick update.  I am safely in my new apartment in Doha!  I love it.  It’s way too much for me, but what can you do?  I had a great flight and actually feel really rested this morning.  I’ll write more later.

I'll Fly Away

Dwight with PassportWell, it’s finally here! All of my paperwork is in, and my flight reservation is confirmed. I fly out of DFW airport on Friday afternoon to start my journey of moving to Qatar.

This is coming on the end of an extended holiday break with my family. I was originally supposed to leave on January 7, but my permanent visa was delayed and I couldn’t leave before that came through. Everything worked out perfectly, because my grandma that was visiting us for Christmas got sick with pneumonia and ended up being in the hospital for 10 days. The delay with my visa allowed me to spend time with her in the hospital, and I also got to help my parents do stuff around the house. My grandma is much better now, and will be staying with my parents for a few more days.

I’m really excited about my upcoming move. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for so long, and I can’t believe it’s finally here. I’m a little nervous as well, because it’s going to be a very different environment and I only have ideas here and there of what to expect. Also, I’m a little sad to be moving so far from my family. Thank God for modern technology that will allow us to keep in touch! My parents are already planning a trip to come visit me in Doha some time in the fall.

I’d appreciate prayers for me and my family during this time of transition. Physical safety for me in my travels and emotional comfort for us all will be very important for us. Thanks!

Eight is Enough

s_airplane8.jpgWell, it’s official. After eight years in College Station, I am finally moving on to more exciting parts of the world! I have accepted a job offer at Texas A&M University in Doha, Qatar. I’m very excited about the move, and I’m also feeling kind of overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I have to do before I go.

I will be starting over there the first week of January, so I’ll be flying out very soon after I have Christmas with my family. Thanks to everyone for all of the prayers and encouragement. I have a long road ahead, but it’s going to be so exciting!

I’m trying to figure out the best way to keep everyone updated about my preparation and then time in Doha. If you’d like to get automatic updates when I post on my blog, be sure to subscribe via the sidebar on the main page.

I'm back!

PB070142.JPGJust a quick note to say I’m safely back in College Station. I have put pics up on the photos page, or you can go straight to the Flickr album. It was a wonderful trip. Doha is beautiful, and I had a ton of fun. I should find out sometime next week about their decision.

I’m writing another post with a lot more details about the trip, so be watching for that soon.  I’m not really feeling the jet lag yet, but I expect it to hit later on tonight 🙂

Oh, and in case you were wondering…business class is amazing.  I got so spoiled!