Ali al-Naimi: The shepherd who led Aramco, OPEC

Naimi reminisced on his life, and recalled his early days, 70 years ago when he was a shepherd and eager for knowledge

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Ali al-Naimi, adviser at the Saudi Royal Court, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and former head of “Aramco”, revealed that his career initiated in 1947, when he worked as a reporter in “Aramco” before he was fired until fate led him to return to “Aramco” again.

With 70 years of experience, Naimi said that if he could go back in time, he would do it again, adding: “At the beginning of my work at Aramco, I was asked by one of my teachers what I wanted to become, I answered without hesitation: President of the company.”

During a Tuesday meeting in the “My experience” program implemented by the “Young Businessmen Council” at the East Chamber in an effort to transfer the success stories of pioneers or successful personalities in the field of business and management to the younger generation, Naimi reminisced on his life, and recalled his early days, 70 years ago when he was a shepherd and eager for knowledge.

At age 12, Naimi worked as a reporter for “Aramco”, and was paid 90 riyals. He was the sole breadwinner for his family after the death of his brother with a disease, and the illness of his father. He was expelled from work after nine months due to the new regulations issued by the Ministry of Labor that put an age limit of 18 years old to be employable. He did not succeed in convincing officials that he is over 18 years old, and that the reason he did not grow a mustache and a beard was due to a genetic factor, so Naimi moved to work in another company, and was also fired. Within four months he was expelled from 4 job positions.

Naimi said: “When I was exempted from ARAMCO, I worked as a foreman, but I was fired, and then I went to work for the US Army, and I was also expelled.”

Years later, al-Naimi returned to work at “Aramco” again. He went to the United States to complete his university studies. Upon his return, he had a job at the ministry of agriculture that paid twice the salary at Aramco, but he left after only three days.

On this subject he said: “Ibrahim Ankari told me about my appointment as Minister of Petroleum and Mineral resources while I was fishing in Alaska. I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was chairman of the company. As the new president of the company I sought to develop human resources and attract petroleum experts.”

About Sports, he asserted: “I still practice sports and mountain climbing. This enabled me to sign many major oil agreements signed with the CEOs of major companies in both South Korea and the United States, when we would close the deal during a match.”