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Sherard Cowper-Coles

Chair’s Annual Report 2012–13

This has been a year of steadily increasing membership, enhanced by the addition of some generous sponsors. We have kept the membership fee at £15 but feel the moment is right to ask Corporate members to contribute a bit more and to encourage more Sponsors to support our work. With greater financial backing we could expand our charitable activities: in particular we could once again sponsor student exchanges, an activity which has lapsed in recent years.

During the year we have had, as usual, three main events. On 19 September 2012, our former Chairman, Sir Alan Munro, spoke about his recent book of memoirs, Keep the Flag Flying. He described his time as Ambassador in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, and of his experiences as a diplomat in Arabia and around the world.

On 6 December 2012, the Professor of Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University, Charles Tripp, gave the Society’s first Ghazi al–Gosaibi Memorial Lecture, entitled Art and Power: the Arab Uprisings and the Challenge to Authority. This was attended by Dr al–Gosaibi’s widow and family. Professor Tripp spoke about the flowering of street and cartoon art which has accompanied the Arab Spring, and illustrated his talk with a series of remarkable slides.

On 7th February 2013, the Society hosted and Abdulaziz al Turki presented the annual Rawabi Holding awards for contributions by Britons to Saudi–British relations. This year the prizes were awarded to the Society’s former Chairman, Lord Denman, who had sadly died between being nominated and the event, and to Peter Harrigan, the owner and the inspiration of Medina Publishing, who have produced so many wonderful books about the Kingdom. We were delighted that those present at this exceptionally well–attended event included many members Charles Denman’s family.

On 17 April 2013, Geoffrey Bailey, Professor of Archaeology at York University, gave a talk entitled Out of Africa, which was an impressive account of work by him and a team of Saudi and British archaeologists searching for the traces of settlement by early man along the shores of what is now the Red Sea and inland in Saudi Arabia, supporting the hypothesis that early man migrated from Africa to Eurasia via southern Arabia rather than Sinai.

Do keep watching our website ( Our future events are always announced there and you will find summaries of some of our past lectures if you have not been able to attend the event.

Sherard Cowper–Coles

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