This will be a much shorter report than last year. For the second year running the Society has continued to operate in a mainly virtual world. Ongoing COVID restrictions restricted our ability to hold in person meetings.
We were unable to host our Annual Dinners combined with the Rawabi Holding Awards in spring 2021 and 2022. However, with the subsequent lifting of all COVID restrictions we will be hosting the 2022 Annual Dinner and Rawabi Awards this autumn.
Our live AGM was held on 30 September 2021, followed by an illustrated talk by Dr Thalia Kennedy on ‘Reviving Heritage: Turquoise Mountain and the Traditional Arts of Saudi Arabia’. A copy of the detailed presentation is on the Society’s website.
We held our Annual Ghazi al Gosaibi Memorial Lecture (virtually) in December, and we are grateful to Dr Hanaa Almoaibed, a distant relative of Ghazi al Gosaibi, for her lecture on shifting work patterns in Saudi Arabia. Amongst other things this highlighted the role played by Ghazi when he was Minister of Labour in laying the foundations for a more modern work force and career opportunities for young Saudis.
On 7 July 2022 the Society was able to host its second live event of the past two years. Lord Ed Vaizey, former UK Government Culture and Digital Minister (2011-2016) was in conversation with Ahd Kamel, a well-known Saudi actress and film maker. The conversation focused on the creative economy, the UK experience and what it means for countries like Saudi Arabia. This was well attended by members and guests, and was followed by a networking reception at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce.
We have had relative stability amongst Trustees this year with no resignations or new Trustees. Najah Al-Otaibi who joined as a Trustee in 2020 continues to ensure that the Society’s Twitter account is populated by tweets on various aspects of Saudi culture. Peter Harrigan was confirmed as Hon. Secretary at the last AGM.
We were pleased that the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies remains a Gold Sponsor for the SBS. We would welcome sponsorship from other companies or entities, either Saudi or British, who have an interest in promoting greater friendship and understanding and co-operation between the two countries. Details are on the Society’s website.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Trustees for their continued support and all the hard work they put into keeping the Society active and relevant.
Sir William Patey