September 2017 Chairman’s Message

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Dear Fellow ABGR Members,

As we settle back in after vacation and prepare for a new season, our board has been developing plans to better serve our membership, and promote our program, mission and vision.

Membership

We seek to engage our 253 corporate and 132 individual members more meaningfully and effectively, including through general membership events and sectoral committee activities.  We will also be organizing smaller gatherings involving general members to better understand individual priorities, and address needs of our members.

Board and Committees

We are interested in diversifying membership in our 15-member Board, and welcome nominations for membership on the board and for leadership in our sectoral committees.

Embassy

The U.S. Embassy has traditionally hosted a Fall Kickoff, a Christmas reception, a Golf Tournament Awards Dinner and a Summer Sendoff.  Our Meet Your Embassy series last season included events with Commercial Counsellor Doug Wallace, Deputy Chiefs of Mission Christopher Henzel and Tim Lenderking, Consul General Virginia Ramadan, Political Counsellor John Godfrey, Defense Attaché Col. Abbas Dahouk and Energy Officer Mike Carver.  We look forward to similar opportunities going forward.

Sectoral Committees
  • Our Infrastructure Committee met monthly over the past season, and under the leadership of Abdulrahman Ghabban of Bechtel and Fouad Khoury of Parsons is planning another strong season.
  • Our Finance Committee, led by Alan Lowe of Riyad Bank, is also planning a kickoff event in the coming month.
  • Our Lawyers Committee, led by Stephen Bodley and myself, organized in cooperation with the Canadian Business Network, is planning its first event for the new season in late September.
  • Our Young Professionals Committee, led by Tarik Solomon and Michael Lauko, has held a series of organizational meetings, and will announce its initial general membership events shortly.
  • Our Sports and Entertainment Committee, led by Rene Schwarzenbach, has also held organizational meetings, in preparation for larger events in the Fall.

Please step forward if you are interested in participating in any of these committees, or contact committee leadership directly.

Policy

We have been active as members of the Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce, which I currently chair, in advocating pro-business reforms both back in Washington and here in the Kingdom, by helping our host nation implement Vision 2030 reforms and attract new foreign investment.

We held our first joint meeting between our Board and the Board of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce last Spring, and agreed to form a committee to coordinate policy on Saudi legal and regulatory reform between our two bodies.

We are currently focusing on U.S. tax reform, and met in March with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, as well as Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee staff on the Hill, regarding conversion from tax based on citizenship to a territorial system.

American Club

We made some progress last season in launching a new American Club to serve American families in Riyadh in cooperation with local expatriate compounds, and would welcome any ideas and volunteers to pick up the baton to convert this dream into a reality.

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The ABGR provides a vital platform for American companies and business people to gather and make their voices and interests heard; with your help, I look forward to another great new season.

As a membership organization, we exist only to serve and promote the interests of our members, in an environment that offers few satisfying alternatives; please be bold and creative in bringing your ideas and enthusiasm to energize our events and maximize our potential.

Sincerely,

 

Christopher H. Johnson, Chairman

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Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson, active in the Kingdom since 1978, is the founding partner of Johnson & Pump/Al-Sharif Law Office, based in Riyadh. chris@alshariflaw.com +966-11-462-5925