This year’s awards for making a significant contribution to Saudi-British relations were presented, on 5th February, to Sir James Craig and Mr. Michael Field by Mr. Abdulaziz al Turki.
Sir James Craig is a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Vice-Chairman and founder member of this Society. Sir James has made an outstanding and singularly distinguished contribution to the furthering of Saudi-British relations, at times in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. As a diplomat, such a task was naturally an essential part of his job, but his personal qualities, and his exceptional knowledge of Arabic and understanding of the Arab world, enabled him to be singularly effective. Following his retirement, Sir James played two direct roles in promoting the Saudi-British relationship: as Director of the Saudi-British Bank and Vice-Chairman of the Society, in support of the late Lord Denman, 1986–2003. But he was able to do much to advance the relationship in a variety of roles with a broader Middle East scope: Director General of the Middle East Association 1985–1993, then its President for over fifteen years, President of the British Society for Middle Easter Studies 1987–1994, and Vice-Chairman of Middle East International, a fortnightly journal on Middle East Affairs, 1990–2005. For many years he was interviewd by the media, gave talks, and wrote articles about Saudi Arabia and its relationship with Britain. He expressed himself frankly and honestly, but there has never been any doubt that he has been and remains a true friend of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Michael Field, author and journalist, has worked for the Financial Times and other publications concerned with the Middle East. His name will be most familiar to those who have worked in Saudi Arabia for his 1986 book Merchants: the Big Business Families of Arabia, which gave a unique insight into the make-up of Saudi Arabia’s business sector. Subsequently his family trees of prominent Saudi and Arabian Gulf families have been of great value to those working in the field. He now acts as a consultant to private clients on a range of economic and political issues.