March 2018 Chairman’s Message

Dear Fellow ABGR Members,

Since my January report, our new year has already featured the following rich range of activities.

January 21.  Economist John Sfakianakis briefed our Issues Committee on Vision 2030 challenges and opportunities.

January 24.  A group of us met with a congressional delegation including Liz Cheney (Wyoming), Vern Buchanan (Sarasota, Florida), Caroline Murphy (Winter Park, Florida) and Scott Taylor (Virginia Beach, Virginia). We thanked them for the business-friendly tax bill, and challenged them to extend territorial treatment to individuals along with corporations.

February 6.  Ishbilia Compound hosted some 70 members and guests at our first evening social event of 2018.

February 14.  Dr. Fahad Al-Turki, Head of Research at Jadwa Investments, addressed a general membership meeting on the state of the Saudi economy.

February 15.  Our Defense Corporate Advisory Committee met to develop strategies for working with the Saudi Military Industries Company and the General Authority for Military Industries in developing localization policies.

February 17.  Helima Croft, RBC Capital Markets energy expert, briefed our Issues Committee on current issues in the geopolitics of oil and energy.

February 22.  Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget,[1] addressed a general membership dinner at the Four Seasons, attended along with 70 ABGR members by Chargé d’Affaires Chris Henzel, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission John Godfrey, Consul General Sean Murphy and Commercial Counsellor Nasir Abbasi.

March 1.  General Joseph Ralston, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of the U.S. Europe Command and currently with The Cohen Group, shared with our general membership his overview on global risks facing U.S. defense and strategic planners, based on the acronym “crinke,” i.e. China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Extremism.

March 5.  Abdullah A. Al-Gahtani, Deputy Governor of the Saudi Standards, Quality and Metrology Organization (SASO), enlightened our general membership on Saudi and GCC standards policies, plans and issues.

March 11.  Our Finance Committee conducted a first organizational meeting of the new year, and committed to hold monthly meetings for the remainder of the season.

March 12.  Jonathan Burns of Dentons led an International Lawyers Committee discussion on Current, Future, and Aspirational Changes in Saudi Franchise, Agency, and Trade Law.

March 13.  As part of our Meet your Embassy series, Consul General Sean Murphy, accompanied by members of his American Citizen Services team, shared his views and led a discussion on Update and Dialogue on American Citizen Issues in Saudi Arabia.

March 21.  As part of a year-long networking social series, we showcased International Foods from Around the World at Al-Jawhara Village Compound in Wadi Hanifah, in Di’riyah.

March 27: Political-Military Counsellor Alexander Barrasso led a discussion at 7 am at the Rotana Hotel on the topic, The State of the U.S.-Saudi Security Relationship: Opportunities for the Defense Industry: In the context of a strong overall bilateral relationship, how does security cooperation fit into the U.S.’s vision for the region?  What opportunities does the relationship afford to U.S. defense companies?

I look forward to seeing you at the following events.

  • April 9: Pete Mehravari of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, here for a four year assignment advising the General Authority for Intellectual Property, will lead an International Lawyers Committee discussion on Current IPR Issues and Challenges in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
  • April 8: Finance Committee meeting.
  • April 18: Speed Networking at the newest compound Wadi Qortuba, who were our 24th Golf Tournament Diamond Sponsor.
  • May 3-4: Golf Tournament. We are celebrating our 40th year of service to the local American business community with our 25th Annual Golf Tournament.
  • May 20-24: Washington Doorknock. We will once again join with representatives of other GCC AmChams in developing and promoting positions on issues affecting American business in the region among government leaders.
  • Neom. Neom President Klaus Kleinfeld will address the general membership, date to be confirmed.
  • Defense Sector Corporate Advisory Committee. If you work in this sector and would like to get involved in our defense corporate advisory committee, please let me know; we are seeking to meet with the General Authority for Military Industries, the Saudi Arabian Military Industries Corporation and the Economic Offset Committee on localization policies and opportunities.
  • Social Programming. Look for information on our final social event of the 2017-2018 ABGR season – our annual Summer Send Off event!
  • Meet your Embassy Series. Stand by for presentations by Commercial Counsellor Nasir Abbasi and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission John Godfrey.

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As part of our strategic planning, we met with focus groups to explore members’ interests. Please contact Fareed Betros if you are interested in participating.



Christopher H. Johnson

[1] As part of a visit to the region sponsored by our Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce (MECACC), which I currently chair.



Christopher H. Johnson


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About the Author

Chris Johnson

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