May 2019 Chairman’s Message

Dear ABGR Colleagues,

At our May 12 ABGR Board meeting we elected Kevin Darnell of Raytheon to a 2-year term as ABGR Chair, and Tarik Solomon as Vice-Chair. Based on Kevin’s effective leadership of our Defense & Security Committee, we look forward to further growth and expansion in serving our members in ever new and better ways.

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

April 21, Control Risks Conference. We hosted our first joint conference with Control Risks at the DQ Marriott, with speakers and panels addressing commercial and economic risks peculiar to Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and global trade and investment more broadly. Control Risks has organized similar events in 30 other cities around the world, and based on the strong response (100+ attendees) we are hoping that this will become an annual feature.

April 29, General Membership Meeting with Stephen Renna, Executive Director of Advocacy Centre at U.S Department of Commerce. We hosted an event at the DQ Marriott for Stephen Renna, in Saudi Arabia to promote American companies competing for Saudi government projects.

Upcoming events include:

July 31, Embassy Ambassadors Panel, hosted by the Embassy of the Netherlands, featuring Ambassador of the Netherlands Joost Reintjes, Ambassador of Singapore Lawrence Anderson and Ambassador of Sweden Jan Knutsson.

September. We are planning an event to honor and introduce our new U.S. Ambassador General John Abizaid to our general membership.

If you are interested in joining our Infrastructure, Defense & Security, Finance, ACME or Legal Committees please contact either our Manager Shohreh Shadmand or our committee chairs directly.

While Saudi Arabia has come far over the past century from a radically idiosyncratic cultural and economic position in claiming a prominent place in an increasingly globalized economy, as recognized in its inclusion and upcoming leadership of the G20 group of major nations, it remains in many ways challenging and strange.  In this context, the ABGR plays an essential role in bringing American companies and business interests together, serving as a voice for American business with both our own government and our host nation, and articulating policies to promote, deepen and expand our bilateral commercial relationship. I have been honored to play a role over the past two years in leading this organization, and in seeking new and more effective ways of promoting these worthy goals.

At our upcoming June 16 ABGR Board meeting, I will hand the chairman’s gavel over to Kevin.  I have enjoyed serving our American business community during such an eventful period, and look forward to supporting Kevin in further expanding service to our membership.


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