NOTES FROM THE CHAIR
I sit writing these notes in the aftermath of the Scottish Referendum and watching the final results coming in. As an impartial, but nevertheless interested, bystander I have to say it was a rather curious event. I say this not to begrudge the Scots their right to decide their future but because it was inconceivable to me that anyone could make a rationale decision with so many unanswered questions. Anyway, my personal view for what it is worth, is that the outcome was the best for UK and we are better together. However, I suspect that a “can of worms” may have been opened regarding the broader political landscape across UK as there now seems to be an appetite for more far reaching change.
In early September we said our goodbyes to Bill and Carole Kelly from the British Trade Office as they came to the end of their tenure and headed off back to UK. They will be missed at our events and we all wish them well in their future ventures. This also provided us with the opportunity to welcome Danial Shaikh who will replace Bill. Danial brings with him Oil and Gas experience from Rio and we would like to give him and his family a warm welcome to Eastern Province.
In my previous notes, I noted that Middle East Association (MEA) may have received a last minute reprieve and I am pleased to report that has come to pass. BBA had the opportunity to meet with Peter Meyer and David Lloyd recently in Al-Khobar and they outlined the forward plans for MEA. It was good to note that the plans include the continuation of the “Opportunity Arabia” series of conferences with OA11 being held in Edinburgh on 2 October 14. Welcome back to the MEA!
BBA also had an opportunity to meet with Chris Innes-Hopkins the new Executive Director of the Saudi British Joint Business Council (SBJBC) during his recent visit to Eastern Province. Chris was, until recently, the Commercial Counsellor at the British Embassy, Riyadh so brings with him good business knowledge of Saudi Arabia as well as an extensive portfolio of contacts. Jeff Stewart represented BBA at the meeting and was given a detailed briefing of the SBJBC objectives and services that they offer. Their primary objective is to establish a strong working relationship between senior levels of both Kingdoms with the aim of improving business to business cooperation and we look forward to assisting in any way that we can. A more detailed summary of the meeting can be found on the BBA website (www.bbaep.org).
Progress has been made on the setting up of Special Interest Groups (SIG’s) with interest indicated by 20 members, the majority of which represent or have an interest in the Oil and Gas sector. Other sectors of interest were Education & Training, Construction and Sustainable Energy. The next step will be to move the O&G Group to active status and we hope to do this by end of October or early November. Unfortunately, vacations, Eid and business travel have become a slight impediment but we will overcome and plan to hold a meeting as soon as is possible. The other sectors of interest will also be further evaluated as we move forward to try and increase the level of interest and establish a working quorum. Anyone interested in engaging with the SIG’s should make contact with Jeff Stewart (Jeff.Stewart@sa.eagleburgmann.com) and let him know. A big thanks to Jeff for the effort he has put in to the SIG Project thus far.
On the social front Paul Wright has agreed to look at some alternative BBA social events so if you have any thoughts or ideas please let him know VIA Rachael. Also the annual Poppy Ball is now only weeks away and should be a an extra special event as this year commemorates that 100 years have passed since the onset of World War 1. We are hoping for a good turnout from Eastern Province to what should be another excellent evening – tickets should be on sale via the office before the end of September.
I look forward to seeing everyone on 7 November at the Poppy Ball. Should you have a need to contact us then send an e-mail to Rachael Routledge who can be contacted on the same e-mail Secretary@bbaep.org
Geoff Fennah MBE