The 2019 AGM was held on 25th June at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, 43 Upper Grosvenor Street, London W1K 2NJ.
We have had three main events over the past 12 months. On 21 June 2018, following the Society’s 29th Annual General Meeting, Martyn Best, architect and CEO and founder of the consultancy Cultural Innovations, gave a talk entitled “Saudi Arabia: Projecting Heritage from 1989 to Vision 2030”.
On 4 December, the Society’s annual Ghazi al-Gosaibi Memorial Lecture was given by Dr. Saud al Sarhan, Secretary-General of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. The title of his lecture, which was followed by a discussion and a reception was “Arab States Calling for Moderate Islam: the Case of Saudi Arabia”. The event took place at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, and we were honoured to have Ghazi al-Gosaibi’s widow, Sigrid al-Gosaibi, with us.
On 20 February 2019, the Society’s Annual Dinner was held at the Institute of Directors. It was very well attended and, as in previous years, was combined with presentation of the Rawabi Awards, thanks to the great generosity of Shaikh Abdulaziz AlTurki, Chairman of Rawabi Holding Group. This year’s recipients of the Rawabi Awards were Hamida Ali Reza, founder of the Barakat Trust, a UK charity which supports the study of Islamic art and architecture, and Mark Evans MBE, explorer, educationist and author, and founder of Connecting Cultures an association which takes young people on expeditions in the Arabian desert.
The past year has been one of transition. I should take this opportunity to thank once again our President for 14 years, the former ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, HRH Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, for the support he and his staff have given the Society during his term in London. The year has seen Ionis Thompson, the Society’s dedicated Honorary Secretary for an even longer period, retire from the committee. I would like to pay tribute to the Society’s honorary officers, Karen Worcester and David Hatcher, and other committee members who have given their time over the year to sustain the Society and ensure the success of its events. My own term as Chairman is now ending; I am delighted that Sir William Patey, HM Ambassador Riyadh from 2006 to 2010, has indicated his readiness to assume the role.
Sir Derek Plumbly