Dear ABGR Colleagues,
Much has happened since our last newsletter, including the high-profile October 23-25 Future Investment Initiatives Forum, the November 14-15 Misk Global Forum, and continuing regional and bilateral issues arising from political and social stresses. We are encouraged by the nomination of Gen. John Abizaid to serve as our new Ambassador and are hoping for his speedy confirmation, ideally in coming weeks by the lame duck Congress.
The November 9 annual Marine Ball as usual offered a great opportunity to visit with fellow Americans; uncharacteristically heavy and persistent rainfall failed to dampen or foreshorten the good cheer of the occasion or the eloquence of the speakers.
Since my last report, we have hosted the following events.
November 4, Board Meeting. At our November board meeting we elected Ed Munter of Marriott Hotels, currently working on the opening of the Marriott Diplomatic Quarter, and Mace Crowe, now of Booz Allen Hamilton, back to our Board, and welcomed Alan Chinoda’s Lockheed Martin successor Gen. Joseph Rank.
November 11, General Membership. David Hobbs, outgoing Vice President for Research at KAPSARC, provided an overview of the Kingdom’s economic landscape in the context of economic reforms, including replacement of subsidies with citizen’s accounts, new value added taxes, and privatization and deregulation initiatives, and introduced incoming KAPSARC President Adam Sieminski. David and his wife Roberta will be sailing to America via the Azores in January; we wish him fair winds and favorable currents.
November 13, Fall Harvest Speed Networking Event. We celebrated our fourth speed networking event hosted by Al-Nakhla Compound, as guests of the ever gracious Al-Nakhla management. Over a period of 75 minutes each of us met for four minutes with some 20 of our fellow ABGR members and guests, to strongly positive reviews; our heads were spinning by the end of the exercise, and we all left heavily laden with business cards.
Please look out for the following upcoming events.
- 40th Anniversary Dinner. We are working with the U.S. Embassy on plans for a 40th Anniversary dinner in late January, a commemorative book and a program of commemorative events.
- Meet your Embassy. We are also working with our friends at the Embassy to organize roundtable discussions with leaders of the various sections.
- Social Program. We have been hosting evening socials for over a year, at the Al-Nakhla, California, Arizona, Wadi Qortuba and Isbhilia Compounds; by popular acclaim, this is now a monthly opportunity for informal socializing in Western environments. The success of these events depends on your participation; thank you for your interest and commitment!
On Thursday we bade a final farewell to our capable Manager Claire Bridge, and are blessed that Tammie Perdue has stepped forward to continue a great tradition of worthwhile events and opportunities to serve the American business community in Riyadh. Amanda Tafunai will also be leaving us shortly; her shoes will be hard to fill, so please help us find a successor with information technology and public relations skills.
We have seen substantial changes over recent months in our official U.S. Embassy representation, including the arrival of Edwin Sagurton as Economic Counsellor, supported by his able and energetic deputy Darren Perdue; of Brenda VanHorn and Olga Ford, joining Nasir Abbasi’s Commercial Section team; and the nomination of DCM Chris Henzel to serve as Ambassador to Yemen.
Thank you for your commitment and participation at our events, and for helping promote American business interests in the Kingdom and joining us in engaging with the local and expatriate business communities during challenging times.
Christopher H. Johnson
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