Jafar is my oldest young Saudi friend and one of my first Saudi students. We met at Jubail University College when the college was still housed in what appeared to be an abandonded light-assembly plant. The plant's buildings formed the extent of our campus that was surrounded on all sides by barb-wire. Going to school was like attending a prison everyday.
It was the academic year 2008-9. Jafar was among the first students to attend and eventually graduate from the college. And, I was among the college's first instructors to help him do so. He was in his first year of attendance, and I was in my first and only year of employment. The college's English Department was plagued by scandal as are most English Language Department's around the world that include as part of their function the preparation of students for study in an English language medium. I was among the first to go, as I was among those who objected most to what was going on. Jafar was there to say good-bye.
The school was located in a distant suburb of Jubail, an industrial city located on the Arabian side of the Persian-Arabian Gulf. Jafar commuted to school from Al Qatif, an area of Saudi Arabia sometime troubled by the Saudi government because of religious differences.
When I returned to Saudi Arabia in 2011 I sought to renew contact. I was now in Jeddah along the Red Sea, and Jafar was in Al Qatif on the other side of the vast desert that comprises most of Saudi Arabia. During my absence Jafar had graduated from JUC and was seeking a Saudi scholarship to study computer science in Canada. By the time, I left Saudi Arabia in 2015, Jafar was well along his way.
When I created the tutor subdomain of Grammar Captive I reached out to Jafar to give me a hand, at first with the translation of the GC Tutor webpage into Arabic, and then as a potential business partner. He had returned to Saudi Arabia without completing his degree, gotten married, and had his first child. He was looking for a new job.
While he was completing the translation he found a new job, and I am no longer sure what our future will be together. I hope that our friendship will continue. Certainly I am now indebted to his good person.