February 2020 Chairman’s Message

Dear ABGR Members,

February has kept your board busy bringing on new members and planning a re-branding of the ABGR to bring us more in line with our role as the American Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia. I want to let you know that over the remainder of our 2019-2020 program season which ends in September, we will be announcing initiatives to improve our member services in a way that truly supports your efforts to grow American business in Saudi Arabia.

One of the ways we will do that is to issue reports on aspects of the business climate for your consideration. These will become available as we rebuild our web presence and I’m looking forward to the improvements we have in store.

Amanda Tafunai, the new Chair of the Golf Committee, has been organizing the 26th ABGR-AMEX Annual Golf Tournament. It is going well, and we are confident that those of you who chase the white ball will enjoy the outing and the Celebration & Awards ceremony. You should have already received details by email that tickets are on sale now.

Amanda has taken over the reins of our beloved Tom Merkel who initiated and ran the tournament for 26 years. We are introducing the Tom Merkel Spirit Award in recognition of our dear friend’s passing last summer. It will be presented to an individual or company who exhibits the spirit of Tom – his sense of community, bridging bilateral relationships and support of ABGR’s mission. Please come out and support this significant remembrance of Tom, his family, and their contribution to the Riyadh American expat community over four decades.

As the ABGR has grown and evolved, it has become even more important to work together and plan together to achieve our common goals. To that point, we recognize and appreciate those who have shared the vision, created the goals, led the efforts and generated the success that the ABGR currently enjoys. We count on the continuous support of our members and ABGR partners to not only make our annual golf tournament a success but also continue to support and sponsor the tournament to realize and sustain the vision and mission of the ABGR. 

As I mentioned in the October update, we are making progress with our rebranding effort and I will explain the outlines of this in my next newsletter. In broad strokes, we are obtaining more formal status as an American Chamber of Commerce and will reflect that in how we present ourselves to you, our members, and to those seeking business opportunities in Saudi Arabia. Our mission will remain the same – to promote American business in the Kingdom in close cooperation with our Saudi hosts.

It will be the holy month of Ramadan before we know it, and we have plans to shift our events accordingly to account for the time shift. Indeed, we want to ensure our schedule gives you the maximum opportunity to attend those programs of interest to you.

March and April will be busy months for programs, so be on the lookout and RSVP quickly to ensure you get a seat. Our subcommittees for specific market sectors and issues will also be active next month to bring you a wide array of opportunities to take advantage of your member benefits. 

Just a brief reminder of the ground rules for our white papers, speaker events, and subcommittee meetings — all information is to be handled as off-the-record discussions for the sole use of members to better their awareness of issues that affect American business. We do not attribute anything said in any meeting or paper to an individual or entity. Following this guidance on confidentiality ensures us of accurate, candid, and deep discussions of most benefit to members.

Finally, a note about the COVID-19 coronavirus. Please follow common sense precautions to protect yourself and your families as advised by the appropriate medical authorities. The virus has reached the Gulf states and I fear that despite the best efforts of our host we will likely see incidences of the disease in KSA. I hope I’m wrong, but all do our part to prevent the spread and wish those affected a speedy recovery.

Thanks, and hope to see you at an event soon.

Best regards,

Kevin Darnell

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About the Author

Kevin Darnell

Kevin Darnell is director of Business Development and Operations for Raytheon Saudi Arabia (RTN SA) and is based in Riyadh. chairman@abgrksa.com +966-11-478-2554