Time to meet the oil ministers. They’re in conclave on the third floor of OPEC headquarters, situated along the Danube River. They’re talking about very important things, of course. But they’re not just powerful oilmen. They’re people, too.
OPEC publishes the resumes of the ministers and, towards the bottom of each, there’s some puffery that’s pretty fascinating.
Algeria’s Dr. Chakib Khelil.
For instance, Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr. Chakib Khelil got his PhD in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University.
Kuwait’s Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah enjoys shooting, horseback riding, falconry and writing poetry. Who knew?
Qatar’s Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah is Chairman of the Al-Sad Sports Club and is an amateur radio buff.
Mohamed bin Dhaen Al Hamli of the United Arab Emirates is married with seven children.
Venezuela’s Rafael Ramirez.
I’m told by one of the reporters who frequently covers Venezuela’s Rafael Ramirez’s visits to Vienna that he often brings his wife and kids along. In the winter they’ve been known to ice skate at the rink behind their hotel. The minister, who’s also the head of Petroleos de Venezuela, currently attends a postgraduate studies program in project management at Andres Bello Catholic University.
And then there’s Saudi Arabia’s Ali Naimi. Reporters here call him something of a health nut. Before many meetings he will take an early morning — like 6:15 a.m. early morning — jog. Some reporters jog or brisky walk alongside and ask him questions. Those who make the entire circuit with him are sometimes rewarded with a lengthy explanation of the Saudi’s position before the meeting. At least one overweight reporter who couldn’t make the trek has rented a bicycle to peddle alongside him to make sure he didn’t miss any great quotes. (At least that’s the how the story goes around here.)
Another fascinating tidbit on Naimi’s resume: He started working at Aramco in 1947 when he was 12 years old and as a teen was a foreman and superintendent. He’s been working for them ever since.