Four members of the Saudi Geological Survey  traveled to Spokane, Washington to present our newly formed organization to members of the Northwest Mining Association at their 106th annual meeting, December 4 to 8, 2000. Braving the cold and the snow were Mahmoud Al-Shanti, Abdullah Eissa, Ahmed Banakher and Ron Worl.


SGS had two booths at the Spokane Agricultural Center and Abdullah Eissa reports that a great many people were attracted by the displays. “Some of the large pictures we used caught everyone’s eye,” says Mr. Eissa.  “Jebel Bayda’s shimmering white cone was one of these and people couldn’t believe the shot of a helicopter landing atop an enormous sandstone formation balanced upon a tiny stem of a neck.  Of course, all the visitors were amazed to discover that there are gorgeous caves beneath the desert hard pan.”


Visitors to the booths came with a wide variety of questions. Many  were curious about the types of minerals found in Saudi Arabia.  Some  were miners and geologists interested in working in this country, while others had questions about outside investment in the Kingdom. The latter were referred to Dr. Mohammed Tawfig and to Maher Idris. Naturally,  everyone was  invited to check out the SGS website.


Our 45 minute film, The Treasure was shown continuously while a laptop entertained people with slides of  desert caves. Visitors sampled dates and Arabic coffee which they seemed to enjoy greatly and all were invited to put their business cards into a mug for drawings which took place at the end of each day.  Three gold-plated dalla coffee pots and two traditional  jambiya knives  were raffled off in the booths and three more at the lunches. Silver and gold-plated dallas were also presented as door prizes.


On Wednesday, December 6,  Mahmoud Al-Shanti addressed the convention. Approximately 150 people attended and there was standing room only.  Mr. Al-Shanti outlined the main activities of SGS, such as geological mapping, mineral exploration, prefeasibility studies, remote sensing, hydrogeological surveys, etc.  He also pointed out that SGS offers consulting services both to government and the private sector, provides geological information to the community and even provides training to local university students.  According to Laura Skaer, executive director of the NWMA, “Mr. Al-Shanti’s talk was really good and very clear and we hope to see SGS again often.”


Asked for his impressions of Spokane, Mr. Al-Shanti said, “I think Spokane is a peaceful city. Of course it was cold and snowing all the time, but this just made the place even more attractive for us people from Saudi Arabia.” As for the townspeople, Mr. Al-Shanti was surprised that “wherever you go, you find geologists and miners, and I’m not talking about the people at the convention, but just the ordinary people in the shops or in the street; and everyone I met seemed really well-educated.”


Was the convention a success? “Definitely!” asserted Mr. Al-Shanti. “The organizers went to great lengths to encourage socializing and this was highly successful. It broke down barriers and promoted the exchange of ideas. We got to know these people really well and they were delighted at having a chance to meet a Saudi.”


Our participation in this convention was arranged and facilitated by the USGS Spokane field office, which spared no effort to make this an enjoyable and fruitful experience for SGS.  Many thanks!




SGS Booth

Ahmed Banakher with a visitor

Shoveling snow in Spokane

Cooking rice and kabsa for Dave Frank, USGS computer expert in Spokane

Ahmed Banakher, Mahmoud Alshanti, Ron Worl and Abdullah Eissa

View of Spokane at 5:30 AM

Abdullah Eissa serving coffee