Jum'ah, Abdallah 1941–

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Abdallah Jum'ah

President, chief executive officer, and director, Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco)

Nationality: Saudi Arabian.

Born: 1941, in al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

Education: Attended American University of Cairo; American University of Beirut, BA, 1968; attended Harvard Business School, Program for Management Development, 1976; attended King Fahd University of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

Career: Aramco, 19681972, government affairs; 19721977, general supervisor of publications in the public relations department; 1975, department manager; Aramco Power Systems, 19771981, executive; 19811984, vice president, employee relations; Aramco, 19841988, vice president of government affairs; Saudi Aramco, 19881991, senior vice president of industrial relations; 19911992, senior vice president of international operations; 19921994, executive vice president of international operations; 1994, director; 1995, president and chief executive officer.

Awards: Named one of the "Twenty-five Most Powerful Business Leaders Outside of the U.S.," Fortune International, 2003; Employer Professional Development Award, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2003.

Address: Saudi Aramco, P.O. Box 5000, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia; http://www.saudiaramco.com.

Abdallah Jum'ah was appointed president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco by royal decree in 1995 after 27 years of employment with the company. With an eye toward expanding Saudi Aramco's global footprint, Jum'ah led the company to its place as the world's number-one oil producer for the 14th straight year (2003) and through a period of instability in the Middle East in the early 2000s. Saudi Aramco is an international petroleum company headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, with control of over 25 percent of worldwide oil reserves.


Jum'ah was born in al-Khobar, a major city in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, in 1941. He attended the American University of Cairo as well as the American University of Beirut, where he gained an education in the tradition of the American liberal arts college. He earned a BA in political science from the American University of Beirut in 1968.

Later that year Jum'ah joined Aramco, working in the com pany's government affairs department. He transferred to the public relations department in 1972 as general supervisor of publications and was promoted to department manager in 1975. With a career in management in mind, he underwent training with Aramco and also completed the Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School in 1976. He moved to Aramco's power systems department in 1977 and worked closely with the development of the Saudi Consolidated Electric Company for the Eastern Province (SCECO-East).

Jum'ah was appointed to his first executive position at Aramco in 1981 as vice president of the power systems division as well as managing director of SCECO-East. In 1984 he be came Aramco's vice president of government affairs and then senior vice president of industrial relations in 1988. That same year the company's name was changed to Saudi Aramco to reflect a formal shift in control from American oil companies to the Saudi government.

Jum'ah was named executive vice president of international operations in 1992 and in this capacity gained considerable experience in marketing, industrial relations, and negotiations on an international level. He led the company's downstream expansion, or international distribution of Saudi Aramco's products; his stated goals were to "protect and potentially increase the market share of Arabian crude, maximize the revenues from the sale of Arabian crude, and provide secure outlets through strategic alliances with refining companies in our major markets" (Saudi Aramco World, September/October 1993). Jum'ah played a key role in the creation of joint ventures with international firms in the United States (1988), South Korea (1991), the Philippines (1994), and Greece (1995). He was named to the company's board of directors in 1994.


On August 2, 1995, Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Aramco's incumbent leader, was appointed minister of petroleum and mineral resources for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Two days later Jum'ah was named acting president and chief executive officer. As al-Naimi's recommended candidate and with more than 25 years of relevant experience, Jum'ah was officially named to the position in December 1995 by royal decree, with the explanation that "while Naimi as a geologist was made oil minister to help speed up upstream expansions at home and function as a minister, Jum'ah was given the top Saudi Aramco post to emphasize the company's international role and overseas acquisitions" (APS Diplomat Operations in Oil Diplomacy, October 28, 2002). In his new role, Jum'ah retained the American style of management that had been carried over from the company's early years under the direction of U.S. companies.

In 1998 Jum'ah became chairman of Motiva Enterprises, a joint venture of Saudi Aramco, Shell, and Texaco based in Houston, Texas. He also served on the boards of the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council, Aramco Services Company, Saudi Refining, S-Oil Corporation, Petron Corporation, Motor Oil (Hellas) Corinth Refineries, and Saudi Petroleum International. In 2000 Jum'ah was named a member of the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals, a board of 13 overseers in charge of the strategies for Saudi Aramco as well as the kingdom's petroleum and mineral sectors.


In 2002 Jum'ah directed the establishment of a training center for Saudi Aramco contractors to improve their professional skills and performance, as part of a push to "Saudize" 3,600 jobs over the next five years, given that more than 3,400 jobs at the time were held by non-Saudis. In 2003 Jum'ah received the Employer Professional Development Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as a result of such efforts. New facilities were brought online in 2001 (Hawiyah Gas Plant) and 2003 (Haradh Gas Plant) to exploit the kingdom's gas reserves. Also in 2003 Saudi Aramco was named the number-one oil company in the world by Petroleum Intelligence Weekly for the 14th consecutive year.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 heralded a period of unrest in the Middle East and for Saudi Aramco. Jum'ah remained confident that his companyand thus the company's oil productionwould be protected against terrorists, despite a targeted attack at an Arab Petroleum Investment Corporation facility in late May 2004. "Our facilities are protected by technology, by physical barriers, by cameras," he said. "We have over 5,000 security guards. Over and above that, we have government security" (Arab News, May 10, 2004). A deal with the Japanese Sumimoto Chemical Company for a $4.3 billion petrochemical and refining project, signed into effect in May 2004, "sends a powerful message that this country is secure and stable," Jum'ah also said.

Despite what he called a "mammoth" demand on Saudi Aramco, Jum'ah remained humble about his role in leading the company through difficult times: "Saudi Aramco is the world's single most important energy provider and while that role is a source of great pride, it is also a huge responsibility" (Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, March 6, 2003). He also reaffirmed Saudi Aramco's commitment to pick up any slack in worldwide oil supply as a result of the war: "In case of a US attack upon Iraq, there would be no world oil shortage, since in a short time Saudi Aramco could make available an additional 3 million barrels per day of oil, aside from its present 7 million barrels per day output" (Oil and Gas Journal, September 9, 2002). The company established precedents for such an action in 1979 during the Iranian revolution, in 1980 during the Iran-Iraq war, and in 1990 during the Persian Gulf crisis.


Saudi Aramco's path to establishing itself as the world's largest oil producer began in 1933, when Standard Oil Company of California (which would later become Chevron) signed an agreement with the government of Saudi Arabia in which a portion of the kingdom's desert terrain could be explored for the presence of oil. Several other oil companies joined in the endeavor, and the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) was born. It was not until 1938 that the first viable oil field was established in Dhahran, and the first shipment of oil left Saudi Arabia via tanker in 1939.

More than 60 years later, Saudi Aramco controlled approximately 25 percent (261.8 billion barrels) of the world's oil reserves. Between 1945 and 1974 the company's crude oil production increased by an average of 19 percent a year, and by 2002 nearly 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil were produced, or an average of 6.8 million barrels per day. In 2004 Saudi Aramco had more than 54,000 employees and a solid worldwide presence, with operations in North America, Europe, and Asia.

See also entries on Arabian American Oil Co. and Saudi Arabian Oil Company in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

"Abdullah Saleh Jum'ah," APS Diplomat Operations in Oil Diplomacy, October 28, 2002.

"Aramco CEO: Employees Key at This Critical Time," Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, March 6, 2003.

Chandler, Clay, Janet Guyon, Paola Hjelt, Cait Murphy, and Richard Tomlinson, "Global Power: The 25 Most Powerful Business Leaders Outside the U.S.," Fortune International, August 11, 2003, p. 48.

Clark, Arthur, "Saudi Aramco at Sixty," Saudi Aramco World, September/October 1993.

Elass, Jareer. "OPEC Members Step Up Overproduction, Paced by Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran," Oil Daily, August 11, 1995, pp. 1-2.

"Saudi Aramco Chief Says Oil Facilities Are Well Protected," Arab News, May 10, 2004.

"Saudi Paper Says Aramco Plans to Saudize 3,600 Jobs in Oil Industry," Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, November 3, 2003.

World Petroleum Congress, "Government Developments: Global Oil Supply Ensured against U.S./Iraqi War," Oil and Gas Journal, September 9, 2002, p. 7.

Stephanie Dionne Sherk