For many in the resource industry, the phrase Middle East makes them think of oil and gas. According to Statista, the Middle East region produces 31% of global of oil and gas. Coincidentally this proportion is very close to the volume of hydrocarbons exported around the world. Saudi Arabia leads the region in both production and exports – but there is another nation that should not be overlooked: the state of Bahrain.

Before the 1930s, the state of Bahrain, an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, was a backwater. Harvesting for pearls was the only major industry in the region and even that source of income and employment was rapidly collapsing. Thus, the Emirate urgently needed a new industry to shore up its finances.

The first oil well ever drilled in Bahrain. The numerous Bahraini flags in the background give off a sense of nationalistic pride in such a discovery.

In 1932, oil was first discovered at Jebel-al-Dukhan. Ever since the discovery, Bahrain has had significant leaps in finances and quality of life. To commemorate the discovery, the Middle East Oil, Gas, and Geosciences Show (MEOS GEO) was organised. I was lucky to attend this conference, which also included a tour that covered most of the island.

In addition to the first oil well, I also had a tour of the pottery industry of Bahrain which, alongside pearls, was one of Bahrain’s major industries before the discovery of oil. I also got to see the Tree of Life, located close to the oil well. The tree is famous as it is still a mystery as to how it survives, without any moisture, in the middle of the desert. I also got to see the Formula 1 racetrack, as well as a camel farm near Bahrain.

The history of MEOS GEO starts back in the 1970s when it was two separate shows: MEOS and GEO. Recently, MEOS (Middle East Oil and Gas Show) and GEO (Middle East Geosciences Conference and Exhibition) merged. To accommodate the two-in-one conference, it was held at Exhibition World Bahrain, a new conference hall built last year which features 95,000 square meters of exhibition space across ten halls, a 4,000-seat tiered auditorium, ninety-five meeting rooms, twenty translation booths, and numerous restaurants, cafes, and other amenities. The venue is so big, that at times I had to take a shuttle bus between different venues of MEOS GEO.

MEOS GEO had over two hundred exhibitors attending the conference, Saudi Aramco being the most notable. Sinopec was another eye-catching exhibitor, and they had a miniature model of a shale gas gathering system.

SINOPEC’s shale gas processing plant, in miniaturized form.

I also came across two Canadian exhibitors at the show: Darkvision and Smartsolo. Darkvision deals with well inspections and captures ultra-high-definition 3D data to locate and quantify previously undetected defects. Smartsolo provides rugged and reliable nodes for smart seismic sensors.

MEOS GEO is also a technical conference: over four hundred technical papers and posters were presented. Interestingly, instead of using traditional poster methods (paper), the poster content was presented on monitors.

A dance that took place in MEOS GEO, with traditional Bahrainis.

MEOS GEO also featured a very beautiful Bahraini dance that took place in the lobby to showcase the country’s culture. For students, this was an opportunity to boost their cross-cultural awareness.

A post-show report prepared by the MEOS GEO organizers showed that this year’s conference broke several records. With more than 17,000 attendees from over seventy countries, the program became the largest oil and gas exhibition ever to take place in Bahrain.

Apart from the MEOS GEO, there are other oil & technical conferences and exhibitions that are being held in the Middle East. The largest of them is ADIPEC (Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference) which is held every year in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The conference is hosted by ADNOC, a UAE state-owned company (one of the co-sponsors behind MEOS GEO), and attracts 160,000 energy professionals, 2,200 exhibiting companies, as well as thirty country pavilions. Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS) is another notable conference in this region.

About the Author

Misha Mustaqeem is a Communications student with Mount Royal University. He is entering his last semester of studies and is expected to graduate with a degree in Bachelor of Communication – Broadcasting. He is 24 years old and lives in Calgary, Canada with his parents.