Posted: 2:32 am ET
Posted: 2:32 am ET
Posted: 2:21 am ET
Excerpt from Rex W. Tillerson’s Remarks to Staff and Families at U.S. Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 22, 2017:
But a real – a real honor to be here. I do want to say a real quick word because I know there’s a lot of interest in what we’re doing back home with what we’re styling as the redesign of the State Department. And this is very much a bottom-up, a bottom-up, employee – your colleagues – led initiative. Many of you, I hope, participated early on when we had the listening tour, we called it, exercise. We had over 35,000 of your colleagues, and I’m sure many of you responded to the survey that was conducted early on. We had 300 face-to-face interviews with various members of the State Department at all types of positions and including people out in mission.
And this was so that I could get some baseline understanding of what are the issues that you’re faced with, what are the challenges, what are things we can do to help you get your work done more effectively and more efficiently. So out of that we’ve created a number of working teams. There are five core teams that are working on a number of work processes and addressing all kinds of issues, from hardware issues like our IT systems, which I know everyone knows we need some upgrading to, and other ways that we can make you efficient. But we’re looking also at how we train people for assignment, lengths of assignment, how do we allow you to contribute more, what are the obstacles to getting your work done, what are the interface issues, how can we clear some of the obstacles out for you. So this is very much led by your colleagues, and then my role is to try to clear and do some blocking and tackling for all of that effort as well.
So the work’s underway. We’re going to be saying more here as we get towards the end of the year. We have some what we’re calling quick – we believe they’re quick wins and things that we’ll be able to do right away and implement throughout 2018 that we hope you’re going to see the effects of that are going to make your work easier, more efficient. And ultimately, the objective is that you have a very fulfilling, rewarding career. You’ve dedicated yourself. This is what you want to do. We want to allow you to be successful and to have a very fulfilling career and realize all of your own aspirations as well. So it’s something that I’m quite committed to, and we have a great team of folks back home helping us, your colleagues helping us in that regard as well.
Read the full remarks here.
Posted: 3:42 am ET
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The United States Consul General in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia is career diplomat, Mike Hankey. He was assigned to post in July 2014 accompanied by his wife and their two sons. According to his official bio, he joined the Foreign Service in 2001, and has “led teams to build deep and productive ties with political, economic and media partners across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” His bio says that in Egypt “he advanced the President’s agenda to engage Muslim communities” and “promoted economic development in northwestern Iraq, American consular and commercial interests in Yemen, and media professionalism in Nigeria.”
Mr. Hankey received his Bachelor’s Degree in international affairs and journalism from George Washington University and his Master’s Degree in second language education from Indiana University. He speaks Arabic.
Like most Foreign Service families, Mr. Hankey and his family are “all in” in their current post in Saudi Arabia. That means they went out and explored their “host country” and did not hide in their USG-provided housing commuting only to the office and back and eating only Pizza Hut and KFC. USCG Dhahran’s FB posts include photos of them in a camel farm, attending a festival, wading in a wadi and camping in a desert. And oh goodness, eating foreign food — they cooked sheep in the sand!
But how awesome is that?
On June 5, US Embassy Riyadh tweeted a 7-second Ramadan greeting featuring Mr. Hankey and his two young sons wearing the traditional Saudi male dress — a white colored Thobe (thawb), an ankle length garment with long sleeves and tunic shape, and a headdress (a large square cloth, white or red called the Gutra, a small white cap that keeps the Gutra in place called the Tagia, and a black cord called Igal that keep the whole thing in place). See more here.
First the good news! Yes, there is a Twitter account that tweets only Great Government Tweets!
Here are some local reactions appreciative of the gesture:
Here are some reactions from folks who apparently do not get the foreign in the Foreign Service. Hometown diplomats, you’ve got your jobs cut out for you.
By the way, eating haggis doesn’t turn one Scottish.
Speaking a foreign language is not un-American.
Wearing foreign clothing is not dangerous to one’s health or sense of well being.
Here’s a bonus, Americans diplomats in Pakistan learning the Paktun dance moves.
Posted: 3:30 pm EDT
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93 suspected ISIS terrorists arrested in Saudi Arabia for plot to bomb US Embassy http://t.co/szt1nbdbR7
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) April 28, 2015
Saudi authorities say they foiled attack on US embassy in Riyadh http://t.co/yg4cbQRAy5
— Guardian World (@guardianworld) April 28, 2015
MORE: Saudi official: 93 people with IS ties arrested, foiling plans that included strike on US Embassy in Riyadh: http://t.co/1uE7aOQx9U
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 28, 2015
– Domani Spero
The confirmations for presidential nominees are now moving as fast as a turtle’s pace. Below is a round-up of the latest confirmations from the U.S. Senate this past week:
April 7, 2014
Mark Bradley Childress, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Republic of Tanzania.
April 02, 2014
April 01, 2014
Kevin Whitaker, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Colombia.
March 27, 2014
Matthew H. Tueller, of Utah, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Yemen.
March 26, 2014
Joseph William Westphal, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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— Domani Spero
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce international students contribute $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses. The Institute of International Education notes that “Higher education is among the United States’ top service sector exports, as international students provide revenue to the U.S. economy and individual host states for living expenses, including room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance, support for accompanying family members, and other miscellaneous items.”
In 2008, the State Department issued 340,711 student visas (F1 visas for academic or language training program). In 2012, the agency issued 486,900 student visas as well as 27,561 F2 visas for spouse/child of F1 visa holders. According to NAFSA, in 2012-2013 academic year, international students across the United States supported 313,000 jobs, a 6.2% increase in job support and creation.
It is no surprise then that our embassies and consulates overseas are working hard to attract foreign students to come to the United States to study. And while most of the videos we’ve seen have been sorta boring, a couple of missions have recently released YouTube videos that seems to be attracting attention.
Below is US Embassy Riyadh with Nawaf starting his journey to study in the United States. “If you want to follow in his footsteps — and be more prepared — contact an EducationUSA advisor. Their advising services are free and available through the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah and Dhahran. Sign up for a pre-departure workshop at http://riyadh.usembassy.gov/education….” This is kind of an odd skit but it is getting a lot of views, currently at
Update @8:17 PST: The US Embassy in Saudi Arabia estimates that more than 100,000 Saudi students and their family members in the United States contribute roughly $6-7 billion to U.S. GDP. The embassy told us that this video, made with a Saudi production house that produces Saudi Arabia’s most popular animated cartoon series is the second in its educational advising videos. The first one received over 600,000 views. “Humor doesn’t always translate easily across cultures. We ourselves don’t understand the elephant joke, but every Saudi we’ve tested it with falls out of their seat laughing so we left it in the video.” Apparently, since airing the series, visits to the embassy’s online educational advising resources have seen a 500% jump. “If elephant jokes and Marilyn Monroe is what it takes to get young Saudis interested in studying in the U.S., we’re happy with the results,”the embassy said. Should be interesting to see how the spike in views translates into the number of Saudis getting an American education at Saudi government expense.
Here is one from from US Embassy in Bangkok with the staff showing off their best school cheer in celebration of Education Month. Just debuted a couple days ago, the video currently has 1,655 views but they sure look like they’re having a lot of fun doing this!
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