May 2018 Chairman’s Message

Dear Fellow ABGR Members,

With Ramadan in full swing, we look back with wonder over a season of superlatives and surprises. From the Saudi side:

  • continued commitment to ambitious Vision 2030 economic and social restructuring goals;
  • aggressive and financially productive anti-corruption program (long on accountability for malefactors of great wealth, innovative and surprising on due process);
  • unprecedented high profile 3-week visit by Crown Prince to the United States;
  • imminent prospect of women behind the wheel;
  • opening of cinemas and emergence of homegrown film industry;
  • steady expatriate exodus in the context of aggressive Saudiization; and
  • continued conflict and/or instability on various borders;

and from the U.S. side:

  • new leadership and Middle East policy;
  • tariff retaliation based on allegedly unfair trade practices; and
  • withdrawal from the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action with Iran.

By Alfred North Whitehead’s standard,[1] may these times prove progressive in the best sense of the term.

During the May 20-25 Washington Doorknock, we advocated pro-business, pro-growth policies in cooperation with sister chapters from Jeddah, Eastern Province, Kuwait, Dubai and Doha. Please contact me for copies of our position papers on competitiveness, trade and strategic partnership.

Since my last report, we have hosted the following events.

April 9, Lawyers’ Committee.  Intellectual Property Attaché Peter Mehravari of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on a 4-year assignment advising the General Authority for Intellectual Property, Current IPR Issues and Challenges in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

April 12, Finance Committee.  John Sfakianakis, the events and meaning of the Crown Prince’s recent visit to the United States.

April 24, Social Networking.  We hosted a dinner social networking dinner at Wadi Qortuba Compound, featuring a well-received “speed networking” event.

April 26, Defense & Security Committee.  John Balouziyeh and Joseph Martinez of Dentons Law Firm and Michael Camburn of Deloitte, Defense Contracting in Saudi Arabia: Opportunities for Military Manufacturing under Vision 2030.

April 30, Congressional Delegation.  We hosted six Members of Congress, Bob Goodlatte, Sheila Jackson Lee, Kenny Marchant, Henry Cuellar, John Curtis and Mike Bishop, visiting the region on behalf of the House Judiciary Committee to study security and due process in the region.

May 3-4, Golf Tournament. We celebrated our 40th year of service to the local American business community with our 25th Annual Golf Tournament.

May 9, Social Networking. The Annual Business Network event hosted by California Resort and Arizona Golf Resort.

May 15, Lawyers’ Committee. Saudi Insolvency Law led by Nezar Alabbas.

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Our Defense/Security (Kevin Darnell, Chair), Infrastructure (John Rinard, AbdulRahman Al-Ghabban and Fouad Khoury, Co-Chairs), Finance (Alan Lowe and John Sfakianakis, Co-Chairs), and Lawyers Committees (Chris Johnson and Stephen Bodley, Co-Chairs) have all been holding regular monthly meetings; please consider joining one or more, and share your ideas and contacts for speakers.

Sincerely,

 

Christopher H. Johnson

[1] “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order,” i.e. progress = change + stability, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/alfred_north_whitehead_163079.

 

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About the Author
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Chris Johnson

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