‘aramco: Above the Oil Fields’ Takes You Inside the Surreal, Saudi Suburbia Built by an Oil Giant

Ayesha Malik considers herself an American on paper, a Pakistani by heritage, and a Saudi by upbringing. But she calls herself an Aramcon.

Malik has spent most of her 28 years in Dhahran Camp, the unique gated neighborhood the place staff of the Saudi oil big Aramco reside with their households. Some 10,000 folks reside in a neighborhood about half the scale of San Francisco, an oasis of tree-lined cul-de-sacs, swimming swimming pools, and Cub Scout troops. “It kind of looks like where you grew up, if you grew up in a suburban American town,” she says. “Just imagine that, and imagine that’s in Saudi Arabia, and suddenly you’re on another planet.”

It’s a planet she paperwork fantastically in her new guide ARAMCO: Above the Oil Fields.

Aramco produces some 10.5 million barrels of oil every day and holds reserves estimated at greater than 260 billion barrels, making it the world’s largest oil firm. The firm constructed Dharhran Camp quickly after its founding in 1933 to deal with expat staff. It affords all of the facilities of suburbia, together with tennis courts, bowing alleys, and different Western touches. “It was supposed to make you feel like you could just pop out from Kansas and come here and your life would be very comfortable,” Malik says.

Malik’s father landed a job with Aramco in 1980, and she or he grew up inside its confines enjoying soccer and softball, cooling off on the pool after faculty, and studying to drive within the car parking zone close to her home, a privilege denied to most girls in Saudi Arabia.

She by no means appreciated how uncommon a spot it’s till transferring to New York in 2007 to attend Parsons School of Design. During her visits dwelling, she’d experience her bike by means of the neighborhood, casually snapping photographs of something that caught her eye. Her father retired in 2012 and moved the household to the capital, Riyadh, however she returned seven occasions final 12 months to complete the mission. She discovered the expertise bittersweet. “I couldn’t just open the garage door, jump on my bed, and pass out from sweat anymore,” she says.

Her stunning, virtually surreal images reveal an insular neighborhood on the intersection of two cultures—a world Malik nonetheless inhabits, even when she now calls New York dwelling. “When people ask me where I’m from, I hate giving them the answer,” she says. “I always just thought I was an Aramcon.”

Daylight Books will launch ARAMCO: Above the Oil Fields August 15.

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