March 2019 Chairman’s Message

Dear ABGR Colleagues,

While many foreign investors have been playing a waiting game pending implementation and clarification of Vision 2030 objectives and goals, activity has been picking up at the various Free Economic Zones at Neom, Red Sea Development Company and King Abdullah Economic City, as well as in the Amaala, El-Ula and Qiddiya Projects. As Spring approaches, ten towers at the King Abdullah Financial District are open for tenants, barriers are slowly coming down along six Riyadh Metro lines, and Olaya Road is showing signs of beauty and new growth.

Our Ambassador Designate
Our Infrastructure, Defense & Security, Finance, ACME and Legal Committees have been gathering steam, all committed to monthly regularly scheduled meetings; please plan to participate in areas of personal interest and experience.

On February 27 we we joined with sister organizations from the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, Belgium and elsewhere at the British Embassy to discuss ways to join forces to our common benefit; shared progress in energizing our sectoral committees; local advocacy
through our Embassy Roundtable initiative; registration of our business organizations; social activities, and business climate issues and concerns. We will meet again next month at the Australian Embassy, and at other Embassies bimonthly thereafter.

The Irish Business Network attracted 100+ participants for a March 8 Women’s Day celebration, featuring Irish Ambassador Gerald McCoy, Belgian Ambassador Dominique Mineur and Dutch DCM Mascha Baak, among others. The speakers emphasized the importance of support from
men to realize women’s career goals, and our gender complementarity in the workplace and beyond.

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

February 14, Infrastructure Committee. Fouad Khoury of Parsons hosted an organizational and planning session in Tamkeen Tower; the next meeting is scheduled for 10:30 am on March 21 at the National Center for Privatization & PPP (NCP), to present their initiatives and programs to our members in Tamkeen Tower Level 39, conference room #1 (please contact Fouad at fouad.khoury@saudiparsons.com if you’d like to attend).

February 24, General Membership. Jay Rosen of The Red Sea Development Company briefed us on plans and progress in opening a first phase of this luxury tourism project in 2022, including a tourism village, 14 luxury hotels and comprehensive electrical, water and transportation infrastructure.

February 28, Social Networking Dinner. Some 60 of our members and friends were treated once again top a lavish Arabian buffet at Al-Jawhara Compound, in historical Diriya.

March 7, Defense & Security Committee. Kevin Darnell hosted a meeting including a dozen committee members in the second in a series of regularly scheduled monthly meetings, to discuss localization policies and experiences, the recent Abu Dhabi IDEX conference, and payment and
expatriate recruitment challenge (please contact him at kevin.S.Darnell@raytheon.com for scheduling and membership information).

Upcoming events include:

  • Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce (MECACC) Annual Doorknock, March 24-29. Very shortly I will join fellow AmCham representatives from Jeddah, Eastern Province, Kuwait, Bahrain, Doha and Dubai in advocating for business-friendly policies on Capitol Hill, focusing on trade, competitiveness, tax and regional partnership issues, in the face of serious challenges to our relationship with Saudi Arabia and other GCC partners.
  • Annual ABGR-AMEX Golf Tournament, March 28 – 29. Tom Merkel, Tarik Solomon and their Golf Committee are working hard to make a success of our annual Golf Tournament, including an Awards Dinner hosted by the U.S. Embassy.

Thank you for your continuing loyalty to our organization and participation in our events, and please share recommendations on future speakers, whether visiting CEOs, leaders of Saudi government agencies or others with important experiences to share.

Sincerely,

Christopher H. Johnson
Chairman

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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