CHAIR - PDF by wuyunyi


									                                                                                                                    RGBB News
                       At the Summer Ball I noted that the evening felt like       In returning to the end of term theme I was privileged
                       the end of term and that the Riyadh social calendar         in mid-June to attend the Prize Day of the upper
                       had been over the past few months quite hectic.             school of the British International School and
                       There had been the British School Ball, the St.             present the prizes. It was clearly evident that there
                       George’s Society Ball, the Corona Ball, the Wadi            was an enormous sense of pride in the assembled
                       Club Ball, the ICING Ball and finally the RGBB Ball.        audience of pupils, parents and teachers in what the

FROM                   I commented that we should all raise our glasses to
                       Sir William and Lady Patey for putting up with such a
                                                                                   school does. I extended my congratulations to all of
                                                                                   the pupils who received commendations and prizes
                       load of Balls! This list of events clearly demonstrates     – levels of attainment, positive attitude, outstanding
THE                    the focal point which the Embassy has become
                       within the British community in Riyadh. The aim of
                                                                                   progress, exemplary behaviour, positive contribution,
                                                                                   enthusiasm, effort and commitment were all justly
CHAIR                  the RGBB is to “Promote UK PLC” and to “Benefit
                       British business in a business & social context,” and
                                                                                   and rightly acknowledged. Not only do these awards
                                                                                   serve to reward particular individuals but they set
                       indeed through the good offices of the Embassy              goals to which others may aspire to.
                       we are able to fulfil these aims – and on behalf
                       of the membership of the RGBB I would thank all             This occasion also marked the last such Prize Day
                       at the Embassy for what they do in support of the           that Alan Aitken, the acting Principal, would attend
                       community and the promotion of British business.            before leaving the Kingdom. Alan and his family’s
                       In the year to date Paul Williams, Tim Dearden and          contribution to the success of the school over the
                       their team have supported over 30 Trade Missions            last 20 years is immeasurable and on behalf of the
                       to the Kingdom. The volume of Trade Missions is             RGBB, and our children, I would thank him for his
                       a clear indication of the importance of the Saudi           dedication to the school and the role he has played
                       market to UK PLC.                                           in the education of many of our children over this
                       Since the last edition of RGBB News the AGM has
                       been held and a new Board elected. RGBB stalwart            The British International School in its own way
                       Chris Maybury stood down and his years of service           also promotes UK PLC by actually being here in
                       to the RGBB are greatly appreciated and we all              Riyadh and providing both the British and general
                       wish him well. In his stead the RGBB is delighted           expatriate community the opportunity to actively
                       to welcome to the Board Nicola Quick who is now             engage in British academic excellence.
                       responsible for the development of the Special
                       Interest Groups and on behalf of the RGBB I wish            On such occasions as school Prize Days I believe it
                       her all success in this role.                               is traditional that the speaker includes in his speech

Owain Raw-Rees                                                                   The RGBB 2009-2010 Board
Chairman                                                  The RGBB Secretary, Jane Brierley can be contacted on                tel: 00966 1 488 00 77 ext. 2263 on Saturdays or

Simon Messum                           Luke Bowen                                   Ian Hay                         Marcus Cleverton
Deputy Chairman                    Magazine & Advertising                        Special Briefings                            Treasurer                                              

Ian Crawford                        Gary Richardson                              Nicola Quick                            Paul Williams
Events                                     Sports                               SIGS & Website                    Embassy Representative              
various wise thoughts to enlighten the audience           Further to the theme of education, on behalf of
and in continuance of this tradition I list below a       the Board and the membership of the RGBB, I was
number of such thoughts:                                  delighted to offer congratulations to Jim Scarth,
                                                          Director Saudi Arabia for the British Council
    •   Always keep your words soft and sweet, just       here in Riyadh on his recent appointment in the
        in case you have to eat them.                     Queen’s Birthday Honours List to be an Officer

    •   If you cannot be kind, at least have the
                                                          of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
                                                          This acknowledgement of his work in support of the       FROM
        decency to be vague – or to paraphrase            British Council and the in promotion of British Saudi
        my own mother, and heaven forbid that I           educational relations is well deserved.
        would admit to taking advice from one of
        my parents, if you cannot say anything nice
        about someone perhaps it is best not to say
                                                          Finally as we escape for the summer holidays I
                                                          would like to thank all of the members of the RGBB
        anything at all.                                  who support the Board and attend the various
                                                          events - this support has made the RGBB the envy
    •   Never put both feet in your mouth at the          of much of the rest of the international community
        same time, because then you will not have         here in Riyadh. The British Community and the
        a leg to stand on.                                active engagement of many of its members in the
                                                          life of the community is something to be proud of
    •   If you lend someone SR20 and never see            – this was especially demonstrated with the recent
        that person again, it was probably worth          ICING Ball where over SR325,000 was raised for
        it.                                               charitable causes. We are indeed fortunate to be
                                                          here in Riyadh and working in a vibrant economy.
    •   It may be that your sole purpose in life is       However we should not take our good fortune for
        simply to serve as a warning to others.           granted – as we all know pride comes before a fall.
                                                          Only recently a delegation of British MP’s visited
    •   When everything’s coming your way, you            Riyadh and some of us had the good fortune to meet
        are in the wrong lane.                            with them to “Promote UK PLC” - shortly afterwards
                                                          one of them fell spectacularly from grace embroiled
    •   Birthdays are good for you – the more you         in the current parliamentary expenses scandal. On
        have the longer you live.                         a more personal note some, if not all, of us know of
                                                          friends and family who through misfortune and no
    •   You can learn a lot from crayons - some           fault of their own are indeed facing many difficulties
        are sharp, some are pretty and some are           as a result of the global recession – including former
        dull, some have weird names and all are           members of the RGBB - we should all be mindful of
        different colours, but they all have to live in   our good fortune.
        the same box.                                                                       Owain Raw-Rees

                                                                                                               RGBB News
Notes                  In March, we said farewell to Terry Evans, Head
                       of BTO and we wish her well in her new UK based
                                                                              Local News Round-Up
                                                                              Several companies now offer regular email up-dates
                       assignment. We have also had the opportunity to        carrying news items from the region. Herewith a
from the               welcome replacement David Harries OBE and wife
                       Carol and we look forward to providing our usual
                                                                              selection of items recieved by the RGBB News Editor in
                                                                              the two weeks before publishing.

Eastern                support to both he and his office.
                                                                              Camel Renamed
                                                                              In case you missed it, the Arab News reported
                       At our April AGM, we welcomed some new
                       committee members - Terri Nicol as our Events          that the June 4 speech at Cairo University by US
                       Secretary, our new Newsletter Editor duo – Kirsty      President Barack Obama was widely watched in the
                       McMahon and Geraint Isitt – who have offered           Arab world, including in the desert of Hail province
                       to put their professional editorial skills to work     where traffic virtually vanished during the address.
                       and generate a regular and interesting quarterly
                       Newsletter and finally, Ewen Baxter as our             Resident’s of one village gathered around a TV
                       Membership Secretary.                                  screen owned by Awad Khudair Al Shammari to
                                                                              catch Obama’s words. Al Shammari, who owns and
                       On the business front, EP is continuing to be busy     breeds camels said in honour of what he considered
                       with established projects moving steadily towards      Obama’s promise to solve the Palestinian issue he
                       completion with a number scheduled to come on          would do what any camel enthusiast would do as
                       line in the 2010–12 timeframe. However, there is       a gesture of goodwill: he named one of his prize
Geoff Fennah MBE
Chairman, British      evidence that some of the newer projects, in the       camels “Barack Obama”.
Business Association   early stages of development, are showing signs of
Eastern Province       slowing down – economic problems catching up           Smoking Compensation Sought
                       with us or just a timely opportunity to do some re- has reported that a Saudi citizen has
                       costing now materials, such as steel, have seen a      filed a lawsuit against two tobacco companies
                       fall in price.? There also seems to be small signs     asking for SR37.5m in compensation for the health
                       of recovery in the world economy with the optimists    damages he sufferred from smoking.
                       expecting growth to return in 2010 – time will tell!
                                                                              The victim had throat cancer and has been through
                       In June, we were pleased to host HMA Sir               major surgery losing part of his vocal chords leaving
                       William Patey as guest speaker at our monthly          him unable to talk without a special device.
                       business dinner. He delivered an interesting
                       “State of the Union” talk providing an update          The plaintiff has told the Smoking and Drugs
                       on the strengthening relationship between both         Awareness Association that he hope to build a
                       Kingdoms. It was good to hear that relations are       hospital for treating tobacco addicts free of charge
                       stronger than ever both politically and with trade.    with the money that he hope to win.

                       Don’t forget RGBB members are welcome to attend        Earthquake
                       any of our functions if you happen to be in Al-        During May many of the local newspapers reported
                       Khobar on business. If you need to contact us then     on the earthquake in the Al Ais region north of
Below: David & Carol   feel free to call me directly, send an e-mail to our   Madinah which had caused a total of 2289 people
Harries greeting       Secretary (Pamela) at          to be evacuated. 30 tremors of varying magnitudes
guests at the QBP      or via the website                       measuring between 3 and 5.4 on the Richter scale
                                                                              were registered in one 24 hour period. Both Civil
                                                                              Defence and the Red Crescent have confirmed that
                                                                              there were no deaths or serious injuries.

                                                                              Time Off for Heat
                                                                              Al Watan reported on 16 June that building
                                                                              contractors in Riyadh were giving workers a three
                                                                              hour break in the afternoons when the heat is at its
                                                                              highest. Fahd Al Hammadi, head of the contracting
                                                                              division at the RCCI acknowledged that there were
                                                                              parts of Riyadh where the temperature had reached
                                                                              50 degress and more.

                                                                              One owner of several contracting companies was
                                                                              also reported to have said that the break would only
                                                                              be given on the understanding that workers would
                                                                              work harder during the mornings and evenings
                                                                              to compensate for the missing hours and ensure
                                                                              projects were not delayed.
                                                                                                                    RGBB News
Notes                    Brian Hawley BBG Chairman writes:                        even on the Bank Holiday weekend, the roads
                                                                                  did not seem particularly crowded. I heard on
                         It is a pleasure to be back in Saudi Arabia again        Sky News today that some pundits are saying the
from the                 after a protracted holiday in the UK, which
                         included a family wedding. It’s great to be able
                                                                                  recession is ending. Let’s hope so!

BBG in                   to get back to work so I can get some rest!              I just managed to get back in time to attend the
                                                                                  Survivors’ Ball and was very surprised to hear

                         I’m pleased to say that Sandie and I managed to          we had lost this year. Well that’s what you get
                         spend a week in London with Cecille El-Beleidi,          if you include horseshoe-throwing and exclude
                         former Deputy Consul-General to Jeddah, whom             cricket. But seriously, congratulations to the
                         many of you will know quite well. She sends her          ABJ on a hard-fought, friendly and enjoyable
                         regards to all BBG members and she misses                competition. And watch out next time for the
                         Jeddah!                                                  British horse-throwing team in secret one-year
                                                                                  intensive training. Many thanks to all who helped
                         There are noticeable effects from the recession in       out – particularly our Consulate-General for
                         the UK, at least there were during the time that I       providing the venue.
                         was there. It is remarkably easy to get a table in
                         a good restaurant that would normally need to            You will all have received an invitation to a
                         be booked weeks ahead, tourist attractions were          networking reception at Kate Rudd, our Consul
Brian Hawley             not crowded (apart from the commendably free             General’s house. Indeed there are at least three
Chairman,                                                                         receptions as the BBG has too many members
                         museums in London, which were packed) and
British Business Group
                                                                                  to fit in at the same time. As I write, two of
                                                                                  these have already been held and there is one
                                                                                  to come. Thanks to those who attended and of
                                                                                  course sincere thanks to Kate for her kindness.

                                                                                  Finally, I was glad to attend a function recently
                                                                                  at Open Skies, the hippotherapy organization
                                                                                  which we support from time to time. All is in
                                                                                  apple-pie order and Nejma, the horse the BBG
                                                                                  purchased for Open Skies, is in good condition
                                                                                  and having fun with the children. You may be
                                                                                  confident the funds we contributed are being put
                                                                                  to good use. Congratulations to Judy and to her
                                                                                  dedicated army of volunteers! (pictured left)

                         The following snippets have been extracted from the      the ‘performance’ bonuses given to certain top
                         BBG’s own e-newsletter:                                  executives within the banking and financial sectors
                                                                                  in the UK and around the world, we can only reflect,
                         In his role as Deputy Chair, Edward Ogilvie writes       - Now why didn’t we think of that?”
                         in his foreword that “ impressive programme
                         of reforms has been taking place over recent years       In his report, John Lockhart, the BBG Events
                         to improve the business regulatory environment in        Coordinator also acknowledged a delightful and
                         KSA. In particular, improvements have focused on         informative discussion on Oriental rugs led by Safi
                         reducing the time, number and cost of procedures.        Kaskas, one of the most informed individuals in the
                         Over the last two years alone, Saudi Arabia has          Kingdom on the subject.
                         seen reforms in the procedures for starting a
                         business, registering property, protecting investors     Dave Wheen, BBG Sports Coordinator writes: First
                         and in closing a business.                               of all I’d like to say thanks to all of the BBG captains
                                                                                  and players. Everyone who participated in the 2009
                         And, at the initiative of King Abdullah, the Saudi       ABJ v BBG Sports Competition gave it 100%, but
                         Arabian General Investment Agency (SAGIA)                unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to retain the
                         launched the ’10 by 10’ project which aims to            trophy. Although we only lost by one point, after
                         make Saudi Arabia one of the top 10 countries            such a great start in the ten-pin bowling, tennis,
                         in the world by 2010. That may seem a somewhat           darts and golf, it was a bitter pill to swallow as the
                         optimistic ambition to us but I thought it interesting   Team BBG lost their last 3 matches.
                         to note that the end-of-year performance bonuses
                         of SAGIA’s executive staff depend on achieving or        On a positive note the aims of the competition were
                         surpassing the agreed targeted rankings, creating        met. Everyone seems to have enjoyed the matches,
                         a focused sense of urgency, accountability and           we’ve all met new people on both sides of the lines
                         responsibility. Considering what we have been            and the competition was played in good spirits with
                         seeing on TV and reading in the Press regarding          no major ugliness. Well done to all.
                                                                                                             by Marcus Cleverton

As RGBB Members congregated in the Embassy            speakers and “it’s good to be back here as the
Hall for the 3rd Special Briefing of 2009, the        guest of a dynamic and growing RGBB. 330
evening was to be a truly British affair, the guest   members isn’t it? I’ve heard new members are
speaker being none other than Sir William Patey,      now living in the streets and I’ve had to widen the
HMA to Saudi Arabia, supported by the sponsors        doors to get you all in. Seriously though, the size
of the event, The Saudi British Bank (SABB).          of the RGBB is a good barometer of the health of
                                                      the business relationship with Saudi Arabia, which
On behalf of SABB, Abdulaziz Alhelaissi, General      is undoubtedly good. What we particularly value
Manager of Central Province, started proceedings      is the unstinting support you give to the Embassy
by emphasising the importance of British trade        and to me. We really are very grateful.
in Saudi Arabia and that SABB were committed
to providing an excellent range of Corporate          The Obama Presidency, specifically his policy
and Personal banking products and services to         towards the Middle East, was the first major
meet the needs of all customers in the Kingdom.       subject on Sir William’s review of the political
Further, SABB was proud of its employment record,     and economic landscape. Starting with a few
especially the high percentage of Saudi employees     reflections on Obama’s approach to the global
and the recruitment of women who were starting to     financial crisis, as in Sir William’s view, this is
occupy senior positions within the Bank.              where our problems started and where they will
                                                      probably end; “as we sit here a new American
Sir William then took centre stage and quipped        President, elected on a promise of change, is
that the RGBB must have a desperate need for          trying to persuade a reluctant electorate that the
                                                      $US780 billion stimulus package will succeed in
                                                      kick starting the economy. It’s a difficult message.
                                                      Bigger government in the US has always been
                                                      synonymous with higher taxation and job losses.
                                                      Since the election in November, the number of
                                                      Americans citing unemployment as the main
                                                      economic problem has risen from 10% to 42%
                                                      and unemployment is now more important than
                                                      the financial crisis. Americans care more about
                                                      the collapse of Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois than
                                                      they do about Lehmann Brothers.”

                                                      Corporate ‘Fat Cats’ that have stolen many
                                                      headlines over the last year did not escape Sir
                                                      Williams attention; “and there have been some
                                                      notable own goals such as the three Motown
                                                      supremos [not to be confused with the Supremes
                                                      who actually made money in Detroit] taking
                                                      their Lear jets to a Congressional hearing into
                                                      corporate culpability.     Vikram Pandit [CEO
                                                      Citigroup] was under the impression that the
                                                      taxpayers’ cash injection into his ailing company
                                                                                       RGBB News
was to fund the replacement of his $US50 million
Gulfstream. One commentator asked if he was
ignorant or apathetic. Neither came the reply, he
just doesn’t know and doesn’t care!

“We have to wish Obama well as the recovery of
the world’s economies depend on his success but
the sobering measure is that implementation of
the stimulus package will raise the US National
Debt to $US11.3 trillion and the budget deficit
to 14% of GDP  ..The US used to be able to talk its
way out of recession, or at least grow out of it. To
grow out of this will require double digit growth
for 75 years! This is a perilous situation.”

Proceeding to prospects for global economic
recovery, Sir William cited “Clinton’s famous
epithet, ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. It always is
of course, but never more so than now when
we find ourselves in the worst global recession        whispers of ‘sub-prime’ problems in the US but
since 1929. The London Summit this summer              no-one really knew what this meant. In the UK
will be looking for global agreement on means of       householders were still enjoying the seemingly
avoiding a repeat of the consequences of 1929,         inexorable rise in property values. Well that didn’t
i.e. the Great Depression.                             last. Northern Rock shocked the UK financial
                                                       sector to its roots and the collapse of Lehman
The London Summit must succeed in getting              Brothers served the same purpose in the US. The
agreement on global regulation and supervision         Chancellor made the right decision on Northern
to prevent the current crisis recurring. There         Rock and the Treasury Secretary the wrong
may be more difficulty persuading the US and           decision on Lehman’s. If any one issue signalled
France than the newer members of the G20.              the seriousness of the situation to the Saudis it was
Remembering of course George Bernard Shaw’s            the failure of the US to support Lehman’s.
comment that ‘if economists were laid end to end
they would not reach a conclusion”.                    “If anyone had doubted that the tremors in the
                                                       banking sector were of less that cataclysmic
Reflecting on Saudi Economy, Sir William               proportions, these doubts faded with the
commented, “In February 2008 the Saudi                 unprecedented rise in oil prices which changed
economy looked strong. There was a budget              almost overnight the way that the world would
surplus of £24 billion and barely any debt. The        now do business. In March Saudi Arabia’s
world was enjoying steady economic growth,             main concern had been domestic inflation which
double-digit in India and China. There were            peaked at 9.5%.

                                                          British Government and Industry in Saudi Arabia.
                                                          On this subject, Sir William emphasised the strong       Special
                                                          business ties between Britain and Saudi, “despite
                                                          the global slowdown and the UK moving into
                                                          recession our bilateral trading relationship with
                                                          Saudi Arabia prospered in 2008. Overall our              continued
                                                          visible exports grew by 21% to £2.3 billion. This
                                                          compares with an average growth of UK exports of
                                                          10% in the MENA region.

                                                          “We have continued to run a successful trade
                                                          mission programme to the extent that many of
                                                          our regular visitors are increasing the regularity
                                                          of their visits. The number of UK professional
                                                          companies investing in the Kingdom has increased
                                                          and continues to grow; Norton Rose, Denton Wilde
                                                          Sapte, Herbert Smith and others have set up this
                                                          year. RSA has received their Royal Decree and
                                                          BA has announced its return to the market after
“By July oil prices which had started their upward        our ASA was renegotiated to massively increase
climb in June 2007 had reached $US 147 and                flight frequencies between the two countries. We
Saudi Arabia was generating a staggering $US 1            are working with many others wanting to establish
billion a day in oil revenues. Although oil prices        themselves here.
fell back as global growth slowed and the financial
crisis was recognised to be serious, how serious we       Senior visitors in 2008 have included the Lord
have yet to see, Saudi Arabia reaped the whirlwind        Mayor of London who returned last month and
overspending its budget by £15 billion while still        the Minister for Trade, Lord Digby Jones, who
recording a record surplus of £80 billion. “Saudi         came in March 2008. Most significantly the
Arabia managed 6% real GDP growth in 2008.”               Prime Minister came twice in 2008, for the Energy
Sir William’s views on the Banking Sector were of         Ministerial Meeting in July and then in November
particular interest to the audience. “One great           accompanied by Lord Mandelson, Ed Miliband and
American, Thomas Jefferson, famously said ‘that           probably the most powerful business delegation to
banks are more dangerous than standing armies             cross these shores.
and that spending money to be paid by posterity           Trade Missions and group visits for the first half of
is nothing more than swindling on a large scale’.         the year are approaching record levels. There is
The banking sector is inherently cautious in Saudi        at least one a week well into May. Direct flights
Arabia and is believed to have relatively low             between Saudi Arabia and the UK will be more
exposure to toxic debt. Most banks will have been         than doubling.”
profitable this year, including SABB, but not all.
The global financial crisis has however affected          The presentation was very well received by the
the Saudi Banks. Deposits have been lower than            members who then addressed more serious issues
expected and the international banks have kept to         in the Q&A session, such as, “could Sir William do
their lending ratio of 85%, although it is not clear if   anything about the current shortage of tonic water
the Saudi Banks have.                                     in the Kingdom?” Of course, time has resolved
                                                          this issue as the flow of this particular beverage has
“Interbank lending has been affected as it has            returned to normal levels. My only disappointment
in the rest of the world. Not to the same extent          of the evening was that this truly British affair was
but no one believes all the skeletons have come           not complemented by clotted cream scones!
out of the cupboard yet. SAMA has acted to
increase liquidity, a lower reserve requirement,
and lower interest rates and capped Treasury Bills.
This is helping but not eliminating the caution.
Confidence has taken a knock. This is most clearly
seen in the Tadawul which registered a 50% fall
last year. It has nevertheless continued to liberalise
opening this year to individual foreign investors
through swap agreements. The lack of funding
has seen some company casualties so there are
continuing concerns.

Anyone connected with the Embassy would know
the enormous amount of interest expressed by
Auctions, Rugby, Signatures and Mother’s Day
                                                                                                                       Words by Chris Evans
                                                                                                                      Photos by Nick Watson

“6000 Riyals, 6500, 7000, 7500,” can’t let a                lunch before the game. The selection of food
Scotsman take home a rugby shirt signed by                  was excellent ranging from steak and kidney pies
Lawrence Dallaglio and Jason Leonard..”8000                 to some very attractive looking deserts. We also
SR…any more bids….SOLD.”                                    had a plan to fulfil, so when fed and watered, we
                                                            wandered down to the Rugby store and purchased
The initial thought was what have I done? Or as             several rugby shirts including one which has now
one friend put it “nutter!” Had I known what was            been auctioned at the ICING Summer Charity
to come the grin would have been wider than the             Fundraiser.
Ambassador’s garden.
                                                            We returned to corporate hospitality for what
Fast forward a few days with the shirt hanging in           proved another treat, after all it’s not everyday
pride of place on the living room wall and suddenly         you get to meet one of your rugby heroes. Richard
a desperate flurry of messages that I need to call          Hill the England and Saracens legend walked in to
Rob Lickley at BMI urgently. The next few moments           give a question and answer session and one day I
will live with me for a long time.                          will find the photo taken of myself with England’s
                                                            greatest ever backrower.
“Are you able to fly to the UK tomorrow night and
come back next Monday?”                                     It was time to take our seats overlooking the half-
“I’m sure I can arrange it.”                                way line. I’ve been to Twickenham many times
“Excellent as we’d like you to come to the Calcutta         during the course of the rebuilding work but the
Cup game at Twickenham on Saturday, by the way              sight that now greats you when you see the finished
bring your dinner jacket as we’ll be going to the           article is truly magnificent. Twickenham is finally the
players dinner afterwards too!”                             great theatre for rugby it was designed to be.

Wow. Let’s face it there isn’t really any other word to     I could at this point describe the game, but I rather
use – well, not that can be printed anyway!                 enjoy being able to attend functions at the British
                                                            Embassy. Suffice to say Scotland didn’t win (26-12
With so little time for it to settle in the next day flew   wasn’t too bad though).
by and I was soon on a very busy BMI flight to
Blighty courtesy of the England rugby team’s official       At the final whistle the Calcutta Cup was presented
airline.                                                    and thoughts turned to the other match about to
                                                            kick-off. Would Ireland finally, after all these years,
I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 1 and spent the              win a grand slam?
Riyadh weekend catching up with the family before
rendezvousing with Rob at Twickenham, via a swift           Back up to the lounge and the big screens, possibly
half with Andrew Mead and Graham Deane, and                 a couple of light refreshments too, and the final
we wandered up to the BMI hospitality suite for             game of the 2009 Six Nations. It proved to be

                                                                                          RGBB News

an excellent game with the Ireland team finally          However, Andrew had found one final challenge. He
securing their place in history (and most of the Lions   noticed that the England player’s bus had turned up
places too!).                                            and the players were slowly filtering outside under
                                                         the guiding hand of Graham Rowntree. What better
Just enough time for a quick change into dinner          place to get some more autographs? It didn’t quite
jackets and myself, Rob, Nick Watson and Andrew          turn out that way as the players already on the bus
Mead made our way round to the new Marriott hotel        didn’t want to be disturbed, I did manage to get
built into the stadium itself. This has now opened       the bus driver’s autograph on the back of a shirt
permanently and, from the areas we saw, promises         though. Then we spotted our final signature of the
to be a top quality hotel for many years to come.        night, one that has since proved to be a surprise
                                                         inclusion in the lions squad, I wonder if Simon Shaw
At this point a theme started to be developing as        knew he was going to be selected when he took the
we headed straight for the bar! Myself and Andrew        time to chat before he got on the bus?
had other ideas though, after all we’d fought our
way through the Rugby Store to get the shirts for the    Our day at Twickenham was slowly drawing to a
Icing Ball, the time had come to add the signatures.     close. Twelve hours of magnificent hospitality from
Pens and shirts at the ready, get set….GO!               BMI, new friends made and watching rugby, I’ve
                                                         had worse!
The list of current and ex-players was amazing. To
list who politely put up with the harassment of having   This still left one more day in England before
to sign the shirts is too long to mention. There were    returning to Riyadh. Coincidently it just happened
a few shocked looks from the likes of Graham             to be Mother’s Day or as it will now be referred
Rowntree and Bill Beaumont when they realized            to ‘Mother’s Day sponsored by BMI’. I was able
we’d travelled 3,500 miles to be there though.           to take my parents out for an excellent meal at a
Once again Richard Hill and Jason Leonard gave           Tapas restaurant in Croydon (if you want the details
up their time to chat about rugby and share a couple     it is well worth the trip, but take a taxi as the wine
of drinks and helped secure the vital few moments to     selection is superb).
get Martin Johnson’s autograph.
                                                         Thank you to all at BMI who made me feel so
Then to the dinner. Speeches, excellent food, good       welcome from the moment I arrived at Riyadh
wine and the challenge from Andrew that I couldn’t       airport to the moment I arrived back. It was a very
get any of the Scotland team to sign an England shirt!   special few days and also made me a very popular
Thankfully this time I won and am grateful to Chris      son.
Patterson and the Scotland coach who resigned
two days later, Frank Haddon, for signing the small      BMI is the official sponsor of the England Rugby
England shirt for my 18-month old nephew. It is now      Team and has 6 direct flights from Riyadh to London
hanging on his bedroom wall just outside Prague.         weekly as well as flights to Jeddah and Dammam.

Revisiting Baghdad
My wife and I have been contemplating taking three
of our children on a trip to Baghdad for quite some
time to see the family and see the changes that have
taken place since the American invasion of 2003
but have been waiting for improvements in the
security situation. The news in the first quarter of this
year have been encouraging and feedback from
those who had visited recently was positive enough
for us to prepare for the trip during the children’s
Easter break. My 13-year old daughter was rather
concerned about the journey and nervous of
travelling to a place with car bombs and suicide
bombers to such an extent that she offered to stay in
Riyadh on her own but at the end she came round
to the idea. In the event she enjoyed herself so
much there that she would like to go again.

The first step of most journeys is the acquiring of the
visa and I was expecting the process to be a lengthy
one. In the event it was very simple as we applied to
the Iraqi embassy in Riyadh in the normal way and           The journey from the airport to our final destination      by Dr. Faez Tuma
had the required stamp in each of the five passports        in Baghdad took approximately one hour as we had
within one day. In fact, the staff at the embassy were      to go through many security check points. It was a
extremely helpful and efficient.                            huge shock to see Baghdad so run down compared
                                                            to the city we saw seven years earlier. The high
The next step was planning the route as there are           security walls and police / army checkpoints that
no direct flights between Riyadh and Baghdad even           are manned by very polite, helpful and relaxed
though it is only a couple of hours of flying time          personnel broke up the city in an ugly way and
between the two cities. After considering all available     added to the misery of driving along congested
alternatives we decided to fly via Beirut. The journey      roads that have not been maintained due to
took two days each way with an overnight stop over          years of sanctions and wars. However, there are
in Beirut. Fortunately the first leg of the journey to      signs of improvements as some roads were being
Beirut with NAS was uneventful albeit later than            resurfaced, pavements being repaired and garbage
schedule but the flight from Beirut to Baghdad with         being collected off the streets but it will take time to
a little known company called Flying Carpet was             address all that needs to be addressed.
more exciting and extremely tiring. The company
operates what should be scheduled flights between           Despite all the hardship and difficulties Baghdadis
Copenhagen and Baghdad via Beirut three times a             have adapted to the situation and learnt to live very
week. Our flight from Beirut was 3 hours late taking        well with daily power cuts, congested roads and
off and the airplane had to return to the airport           frequently interrupted traffic caused by convoys of
10 minutes after being in the air as it developed           armoured military vehicles that are either on patrol
a technical fault. The usual “it will only take 10          or on their way to defuse a suspected car or roadside
minutes to fix” became an eight hour wait that              bomb. People are fed up with war and killing and
meant leaving Beirut at 4:00 pm instead of 8:00             they just want to be left alone to get on with life. As
am and arriving at Baghdad International Airport at         a result of events of the last five years most Iraqis
around 6:00 pm. We were all exhausted yet pleased           have become suspicious of neighbouring countries
to be at the end of this part of the journey. Although      and their contribution to the death and destruction
we were tired we were in a much better state than           that has taken place.
those travelers who had been on that same small
aircraft from Copenhagen almost from the night              Baghdad has many shopping thoroughfares with
before. Fortunately passport and baggage claim              shops that are well stocked with goods and foods
formalities at Baghdad International Airport were           albeit expensive when compared to current average
relatively brief and quick such that we were outside        income and with prices during the years of sanctions
the terminal building within approximately 30               when the government provided a limited range of
minutes from landing to be met by a pre-arranged            items at subsidized prices. In the late afternoons
authorised airport taxi. After an exhausting day at         and evenings streets are full with shoppers or
Beirut airport it was a relief and quite pleasant to be     people just strolling along, a good indication of a
met by very polite and courteous staff at Baghdad           normal city life.

                                                                                                                        RGBB News
                                                                                      village. The countryside is flat with many rivers and
                                                                                      streams zigzagging across it making the area fertile
                                                                                      and green but interspaced by patches of yellow
                                                                                      desert. As the roads snake through the countryside
                                                                                      they are lined on either side by farms, fruit orchards,
                                                                                      orange groves and palm trees. This part of Iraq and
                                                                                      the area further south are rich with history and
                                                                                      monuments of ancient times where early civilization
                                                                                      started. In addition to relics of the Babylonian and
                                                                                      Sumerian eras there are many shrines of various
                                                                                      saints and prophets such as Jonah and Abraham
                                                                                      and ancient temples some of which with original
                                                                                      Hebrew markings still visible. As places of worship
                                                                                      with many millions of visitors every year the shrines
Images clockwise from       No visit to Baghdad is complete without eating            and the areas around them were clean, well
   left: Standing Guard     Masgoof, local river or tank fish that is cleaned, flat   maintained and well looked after.
         at a checkpoint,   opened and placed near a wood fire by stakes to
     Above: An outdoor
                            cook slowly and then served on a platter of bread         During our stay the weather was pleasant albeit dry
        Below: A vendor
                            or rice with delicious pickles and greens. Baghdad        and somewhat dusty as it is expected for the time of
       serving tea by the   is also well known for the various types of kebabs        year except for the last day when it rained heavily
 roadside, Buying Fish      (skewered meat or chicken cooked on charcoal)             all the way back to the airport for the return leg of
 from a roadside tank.      and I recommend the offerings of the Samad                the journey. The journey to the airport to fly back to
                            Restaurant in the Al-Mansoor district.                    Beirut meant going through very tough check points
                                                                                      where the security staff were more thorough and
                            Although life is difficult Baghdadis are more             detailed than those at other checkpoints that we
                            positive and optimistic about the future than they        had come across during our travel in the previous
                            were nine years earlier when I visited Baghdad            week.
                            during the Saddam era. Most people are hopeful
                            that as the political situation stablises and the         On balance it was a good trip but it was sad to see
                            various municipalities establish themselves and           Baghdad so run down and broken up into small
                            their respective programs of work and civil               isolated districts. On the other hand there is hope
                            projects Baghdad and the rest of Iraq will recover        that the place will rise from the ashes again as
                            from years of neglect and bad management and              people get to grip with their own responsibilities and
                            governments.                                              decide for themselves the course that the country
                                                                                      will run.
                            We wanted the children to see the countryside
                            outside Baghdad so for $300 we hired a driver and         As a footnote I asked the children the other day
                            an SUV for three days to visit some others cities. It     what they remembered most about the trip to Iraq
                            was a pleasant excursion to about 100 miles south         the thirteen year old said the tiring journey from
                            of Baghdad and it was noticeable that these cities        Beirut to Baghdad, the twelve year old said that she
                            were more relaxed than Baghdad. Streets were              remembered the shrines with the golden domes,
                            bustling with people and street traders offering their    shopping and seeing the family and the youngest
                            wares. The roads were good but interrupted by             five year old said he remembered seeing the family
                            security checkpoints before and after every town or       and the toys he was given.

                                                          2009 Summer Charity Fundraiser

                                                                                                                    by Andrew Mead

A generous SR15,000 donation from the Riyadh              was Sean McPoland, who had attended the Bahrain
Community Theatre kicked-off the events in                F1 earlier in the year obtaining Lewis Hamilton’s
Riyadh’s best garden late in May when the ICING           signature on a souvenir shirt which was sold at
team pulled off yet another spectacular evening to        auction for SR12,000. Quite how the Swedish
raise cash for Children in Need. Gail Tisdale and         Ambassador’s waistcoat came up for sale will
Phil Atkinson are pictured above presenting their         remain a mystery to many of us but thanks to Noura
cheque to HMA Sir William and Lady Patey.                 Al Haider’s winning bid, it seemed to have been
                                                          returned to him by the time the night was over!
The garden had been beautifully decorated by
William and Philipa Kirkpatrick and their team who        Among those sponsors attending on the night, the
had created a unique setting for the many guests          British School PTA, represented by Andrea Corbett,
to part with their hard earned cash in support of         made a generous donation from the proceeds of
ICING’s drive to coordinate charitable efforts in the     their own party, adding to a similar amount already
community.                                                donated by John and Helen Leifer on behalf of the
                                                          Sulaimaniyah Hash earlier in the year.
Commercial support for the evening had come from
a host of sponsoring companies and organisations          In bidding for the Scottish Rugby Shirt and the Pet
including, Al Hokair, Arcom, AXA, BAE, bmi, La            Rock, the Caledonian Society of Riyadh matched the
Vida Havana, Dirab Golf Course, Electro, Maaden,          St. Georges Society donation of SR25,000, slightly
Neovartis, Riyadh Round Table, SABB, sama, the Al         exceeding the Al Misehal table who in addition
Khozama Hotel, the Riyadh Sheraton Hotel and the          to their sponsorship collectively paid for three
Crowne Plaza Hotel in Bahrain.                            separate auction items. The figure was exceeded
                                                          only by Majid Fustok who confirmed the Fustok
The number of volunteers and helpers is of course         family’s continuing support for ICING by making
enormous and without their assistance the event           the winning bids on two of the signed sports shirts to
simply wouldn’t happen. Luke Bowen and Simon              add to his collection of sporting memorabilia.
Messum had been instrumental in coordinating
catering and sponsorship, Chris Durbridge and his         This years team of ICEMAIDENS pictured below
team provided diversionary play before and after          included Fflur, Helen, Natalie, Kirsty, Alison, Rachel,
dinner whilst Mike Donavan and Dave Gosney did
their usual bit on stage to entertain during the entire

Owain, Ian, Marcus, Gary, Steve, Graham & Olaf
all assisted on the night with everything from Gate
Duty to Bid Spotting. In addition, a number of
individuals made personal contributions of both
cash and gifts which covered much of the costs for
staging the event and provided prizes for the raffle
and items for the auction.

Rob Wood, Shadi Sanbar, Zaher Al Munajed,
Steve Wilson, Simon Marshall, and Simon Ward
all contributed in their own way. Graham Deane
and Andrew & Angeline Turner were among those
who made personal contributions which generated
a terrific response from the auction participants as
                                                                                                               RGBB News

                        Andrea and Trish who achieved an amazing total of      being incorrectly identified by the auctioneer as
                        SR 50,250 in raffle ticket sales, which exceeded all   Matt White) a first timer at an ICING event, was
                        previous ICING raffle figures.                         successful in securing the package for SR5000.

                        Special mention must also be made of Peter             The Alkhozama Hotel provided dinner on the
                        Howarth-Lees and Smile Productions. Peter had          evening, which was widely acclaimed as being
                        pledged SR20,000 on the evening as a donation          among the best food in town at any price! Erik
                        from the LOL Comedy Tour. However, following a         Huyer, Simon Coley and the Alkhozama team
                        successful tour, the amount actually donated came      worked along with Gilbert and the staff from the
                        to SR30,000, a truly magnificent contribution.         Embassy to engineer a superb level of service.
                        Another post event contribution was made by
                        Dianne Baxter on behalf of the team at Al Romaizan     The counting is almost over and when all the
                        Compound who donated profits from their own            pledges are met, we will have collected an
                        bash earlier in the month.                             additional SR340,000 to distribute to worthy causes
                                                                               this year. We’ll bring you details of where the money
                        The first prize in the raffle was won by Dave Shaw,    goes in the next edition.
                        a worthy winner since he had contributed to the
                        event by donating one of the other prizes. Dave,
                        seen centre right, collected his prize voucher from
                        Richard Groves from SABB and Rachel Start from

                        Olaf Brinkman, obviously intent on treating his wife
                        Philipa, was successful in outbidding many others
                        (including Gary Richardson who attempted to
                        compete by telephone), for the superb package of
Below, Left to Right;
                        flights to and accommodation in Palma generously
David Letts,
Lynne Charnley,         donated by bmi and the Sheraton Hotel.
Bennie Burger and
Margaret Luckman        One raffle prize winner, David Letts who had won a
were among the many     series of rounds at Dirab, generously surrendered
prize winners.          his prize for auction and Richard Zeverona, (despite

Saudi Arabia will play part in recovery
                                                        viewed as a direct stimulus to the global economy.
                                                        These long-term projects will help maintain an
                                                        expatriate workforce in Saudi Arabia rather than
                                                        prompt the kind of exodus we are seeing in some
                                                        other GCC states.

                                                        The nation’s defence procurement programme also
                                                        continues to provide jobs and revenues for many
                                                        western companies. At least $220bn is likely to be         This article by John
                                                        recycled abroad in the form of imports, contracts or           Sfakianakis was
                                                                                                                 published in the FT in
                                                        labour transfers. According to official data, over the
                                                                                                                            April 2009
                                                        past six years Saudi Arabia has imported more than
                                                        $335bn worth of goods. We estimate that since
                                                        2003, more than $100bn has been officially and
                                                        unofficially remitted by expatriate workers.

As the world’s leaders meet in London to seek ideas     So what will Saudi officials be pushing for at the G20
and funds in order to prevent a systemic collapse       summit in London? First and foremost, the kingdom
of the global economy, many eyes have turned to         will fight against protectionism and unilateralism.
Saudi Arabia as an obvious source of cash.              Having joined the World Trade Organisation, Saudi
                                                        officials understand that trade barriers need to be
The kingdom’s contribution to rescuing the global       flattened so that the wheels of the world’s economy
financial system has been far from negligible.          can keep turning.
It is investing more than $70bn to bring its oil
production capacity to 12.5m barrels a day by the       “We should not have policies of beggar thy
end of this year.                                       neighbour,” as one minister put it to me ahead of
                                                        the meeting.
More than 40 per cent of the new total capacity
will remain unused so that global consumers can         The kingdom wants better financial regulation and
tap into it at a later stage. Saudi Arabia’s current    believes that progress in mitigating the excesses of
control of production capacity makes Tehran and         the global financial system cannot be addressed
Moscow, to name but two, completely dependent           without more oversight. But it does not want control
on its adjustments.                                     to curb competition.

Saudi Arabia has used its status as the world’s swing   Saudi officials are also likely to support the
producer benignly. Its leaders have understood for      arguments of Germany and France, who have
decades that their interests are intertwined with the   argued for stronger regulation of hedge funds and
prosperity of the world economy and that excessive      derivatives – although they recognise that these
prices and the accompanying volatility are counter      instruments cannot be driven out of existence. Many
to the kingdom’s long-term interests.                   Saudi businesses have been hurt by their exposure
                                                        to these vehicles and instruments. In contrast, we
Saudi Arabia has helped maintain moderation             should view the conservative policies of the Saudi
within Opec, which has resulted in lower gasoline       Arabian Monetary Agency in regulating local
prices around the world. Lower pricing at petrol        financial institutions as a policy to be emulated.
pumps is perhaps the most effective way in which the
kingdom can aid recovery. Compared to the record        The kingdom is also likely to oppose those countries
highs of last year, lower petrol prices are currently   proposing a “green” recovery or a low-carbon
adding an extra $200 of extra per capita income on      agenda. The world cannot afford to choose the
a monthly basis.                                        colour of its recovery.

Also, by maintaining an oil-price floor at about        Finally, in representing the GCC states, Saudi will
$40 per barrel, Saudi Arabia is ensuring that the       look to defend the interests of sovereign wealth funds
economies of the rest of the Gulf Co-operation          that have played a significant role in maintaining
Council run roughly balanced budgets and thereby        financial stability and confidence so far. Many SWFs
act as engines for the global economy.                  from the GCC have invested in financial institutions
                                                        whose shares have plummeted.
This year the kingdom announced a sharply                                                                         John Sfakianakis
expansionary budget to maintain domestic                The kingdom, whose central bank is now the world’s        is chief economist at
demand. Its $400bn worth of infrastructure projects     largest holder of foreign assets, is likely to be keen           Saudi Arabia’s
earmarked for the next five years should also be        to maintain access to global markets.                               SABB Bank.
Saudi Arabia’s Lessons Learned
The economic boom in the gulf countries over the
past few years — fueled by the continuous rise of oil
prices between 2003 and 2008 — helped put the
region on the global economic map. In some ways,
the boom became captive to a “mine is bigger than
yours” syndrome. Competing states embarked on
advertising campaigns and hired in public-relations
firms to tout their wares. Developers and rulers
alike pushed artificial islands (Dubai, Abu Dhabi,
Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait), and in many places real
estate became the main economic activity. Officials
promoted their cities as financial hubs as a way
to diversify away from oil. Hundreds of millions
of dollars were poured into national air carriers
and airports, which were seen both as a source of         predominantly U.S. government paper assets, rather
national pride and as another way to expand the           than real estate. While other regional investment
energy-dependent economies.                               funds were buying into international banks, Saudi
                                                          Arabia was purchasing U.S. government bonds, or
While oil revenues were flowing, sovereign wealth         paying down its debt. The country can tap into those
funds acquired foreign assets with the flair of           liquid assets while its neighbors are struggling to sell
peacocks. The humility that typified the past was         their investments in banks, equities and companies
supplanted by conspicuous consumption. Yes, all           — Saudi’s debt now stands at just 13% of the total
that infrastructure and new property that was built       size of its economy.
still exists — but its quality and engineering is, in
many cases, dubious.                                      Third, King Abdullah, though often criticized as
                                                          being too “frugal,” has stuck to sensible spending.
In contrast, Saudi Arabia’s institutional memory of       It is this that has saved Saudi Arabia. Even the
the boom and bust cycle served it well during what        ambitious economic cities that were announced at
was the kingdom’s third great oil boom of the past        the end of 2005 were private-sector initiatives, not
four decades. After the high prices of the 1970s,         state-financed ones.
Saudi Arabia’s economy went through a long-
drawn-out slowdown as oil revenues plummeted for          Fourth, the banking sector, thanks to its experience
most of the 1980s. After a spike when Iraq invaded        during the 1990s, has taken a conservative
Kuwait, prices weakened again in the 1990s, even          approach to lending, and remains highly
as Saudi struggled to pay off its (large) chunk of        unleveraged. Importantly, real estate in Saudi
the bill for the first Gulf War. At the height of the     Arabia did not experience the same bubble that
Asian financial crisis in 1998, oil prices had fallen     occurred in the country’s neighbors; as a result
to just $12 a barrel. This meant that Saudi Arabia        consumers and lenders have been protected.
— which sells its precious black gold at a discount,
on average — was getting just $7 a barrel. Deficit        Fifth, during the boom years, Saudi Arabia invested
financing was the only solution, and the government       more than $70 billion in expanding its oil production
started borrowing at home and abroad. By 1999,            capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day, not only to
Saudi Arabia’s government debt was bigger than            secure its future but also to address global supply
its economy. And then came 9/11, which drove the          imbalances.
final nails into the coffin of the country’s image. A
series of terrorist attacks inside the country added to   To be sure, the two stock market slumps in 2006
                                                                                                                     Editors Note: In his
the sense of chaos. Some predicted the end of the         and 2008 created negative wealth effects. High-
                                                                                                                     second article for
House of Saud.                                            net-worth businessmen have been hit by the current
                                                          global financial crisis. But there is no doubt that        this edition, John
But when oil prices started to rise in 2003, Saudi        the macroeconomic picture is solid and healthy.            Sfakianakis      the
Arabia was ready. For one thing, the Saudi Arabian        Over the next five years Saudi Arabia has outlined         chief economist of
Monetary Agency, the country’s central bank,              a $400 billion spending program. In a decade or            the Saudi British
had greatly expanded the number of well-trained           thereabouts, Saudi Arabia will become a $1 trillion        Bank (SABB) has
national staffers. Second, it had at its helm officials   economy and will be better placed than the rest            graciously allowed
who remembered the bad days of low oil revenues.          in the region to capitalize on its knowledge and           us to reproduce an
That meant that when the oil gushers were turned          strengths. During the boom years, some critics said        article    originally
up again, money was saved and not aggressively            Saudi Arabia should become more like Dubai. Now            published in Time
spent as elsewhere in the region. The nation’s            the rest of the region might want to become a bit          magazine during
wealth was also placed in very liquid investments,        more like Saudi Arabia.                                    May.

                                                                                                   RGBB News
Annual    On Tuesday 16th June, the British International
          School staged its Annual Prize Giving, the first
                                                                  a ‘parting shot’. Tamara Siyam Lewis, Rachel
                                                                  Keogh and Yazdan Chowdhury, delivered excellent
          since the completion of its splendid new school hall    speeches to the large assembly of teachers, parents
Prize     facility. The School was delighted when the RGBB
          Chair Owain Raw-Rees accepted their invitation to
                                                                  and students in the hall, reflecting on their years at
                                                                  the school and expressing thanks for all that they

Giving    be guest of honour and award the prizes.                had achieved and experienced during that time.

          Prizes are awarded to students in recognition of        Another part of the proceedings was the reading, by
at BISR   academic excellence and achievement in all subject
          areas. Prizes are also awarded to students who have
                                                                  Year 9 student Anna Kulach of some of her poems.
                                                                  Anna is a Polish teenager, who joined the school
          made a particular contribution to the vibrancy of       in 2004. Until then, she could hardly speak any
          the school through such activities as sport, business   English. Soon after her arrival in Saudi Arabia, she
          endeavour and fundraising for charity. To this end      developed a passion for and showed a particular
          a number of students received ‘student citizenship      talent for writing poetry. She read, beautifully and
          awards’.                                                emotionally from her first volume of published
                                                                  poems, ‘Just A Person’.
          The occasion is also the last official event for Year
          11 students who have just taken their IGCSE public      The occasion concluded with a speech from Owain
          examinations. Three students were invited to deliver    Raw-Rees. He congratulated the prize-winners and
                                                                  those who had spoken. He explained the role of
                                                                  the RGBB and spoke about some recent events and
                                                                  fundraising activities. He then spoke to the student
                                                                  body and delivered some appropriately uplifting
                                                                  and humorous ‘pearls of wisdom’. Having been a
                                                                  great supporter of the school and in particular of
                                                                  the International Award for Young People, Mr Raw-
                                                                  Rees expressed his pleasure that the award scheme
                                                                  was thriving in the school. He took the opportunity
                                                                  to say bon voyage to a group of students who were,
                                                                  that very evening, flying to Cyprus to undertake their
                                                                  Silver Level expedition in The Troodos Mountains.

                                                                                                 Julian B Cottenden
                                                                                           Head of Secondary School

bmi celebrates 4 years in Saudi Arabia
bmi, the only British Airline to fly to all 3 international
gateways in Saudi Arabia hosted a dinner at
the British Ambassador’s residence in Riyadh to
celebrate 4 years of service in Saudi Arabia.

The purpose of the dinner was not only to celebrate
the 4 years, but also to promote the service
improvements that bmi have been developing
over the past year. Complimentary Chauffeur
Drive, Arrival and Departure Lounges at Heathrow,
Premium and 30 Minute Check-In at Heathrow
are just some of the enhancements that bmi have
introduced for its customers.

Speaking at the dinner was Peter Spencer, Managing
Director of bmi who said “ We all know the terrible
time that industry in general is experiencing at the
moment, and the airline industry is no different. We
do acknowledge however that there is a change
in the way people travel and what is expected is
better value, and I believe this is precisely what bmi
continues to offer its customers”.

Spencer also added “We all know that people
have a choice when they fly and there is increased
competition when chosing to fly to the UK, Europe
and North America, but by choosing bmi and
London Heathrow’s Terminal 1, there is no better

This year bmi celebrates 4 years of service from
Riyadh, 3 years from Jeddah and 1 year from

                                                                                                      RGBB News
  RGBB    After a very busy year the RGBB sports team has
          had a well deserved rest during the busy Spring/
                                                                    night. The aim of this is to simply have fun during
                                                                    the warm summer evenings, with no competitive
          Summer Ball period.                                       side to the activity. However following the success
 Sports   With the ball season at an end the summer
                                                                    of last years water volley ball tournament we plan to
                                                                    hold another event in early August.
          programme for sports begins in earnest on June 25th
          with a pair’s golf tournament. This will be followed      Other events planned for the summer include the
          by a singles tournament at Dirab golf course on           resumption of the pool teams matches against
          July 10th, with other events planned for August           Seder village (and any other challengers that would
          and September. (dates and venues TBC) These will          like to play us), as well as darts &10 pin bowling.
          all form part of the new RGBB Golf Society that is
          being run by Robert Barnden.                              As always please keep your eyes open for details
                                                                    on these and other events in your RGBB emails, or
          As well as regular golf events during the summer          contact Gary Richardson via email on
          there will be cricket to take part in or spectate at as
          well, because the RGBB 20/20 cricket league will
          launch in July. The league will be launched with a        If the activity you would like to participate in is not
          10/10 one day tournament. (Dates TBC)                     mentioned please contact Gary to see if we can add
                                                                    this to the list of events that we have planned over
          We will also be launching a weekly water volley ball      the next few months.

  RGBB                                                              The main winners of the event was the team of
                                                                    Phil Pannell, Evan Weinand and Gary Richardson,
                                                                    with an impressive score of 55. They actually went
   Golf                                                             around the tough championship course at Dirab 1
                                                                    under par before handicaps were deducted. Second

Society                                                             place went to Shiela & Alistar Mcilry with a score of
                                                                    58. They just beat Monica & Ralph Shiffer into third
                                                                    place on the count back system.
                                                                    The longest drive went to Raymond O’Neil, with
                                                                    the ladies prize unclaimed on this occassion. The
                                                                    nearest the pin prize was won by Monica Shiffer
                                                                    with a great tee shot on the tricky down hill par 3
                                                                    number 11 hole.

                                                                    We would like to thank Bouchaib and his team
                                                                    at Dirab for making us feel welcome once more
          On 25th June the first golf event of the RGBB golf        and preparing a course in such great condition,
          society took place at Dirab Golf course. A mixed          especially with the heat making it difficult to keep
          field containing men and ladies of all abilities          the course so green.With more events planned the
          competed in this Texas Scramble team event.               RGBB golf society will continue to go from strength
                                                                    to strength over the coming months.
          Texas scramble is a format where all players in a
          team hit a tee shot, with the best shot selected as       For details of the next event or to join the society
          the place to play the second shot from, and so forth.     please contact Gary Richardson for more details.
          The immaculate condition of the course led to some        Please also keep an eye open for emails with
          impressive scoring despite the searing heat that was      details of other sports events that we have planned
          endured by the players.                                   over the coming months

The last edition’s attempt to get more of you telling
of your own experiences seems to have stimulated                                      Restaurant Review
some debate in many quarters.                                                                                      by Andrew Mead
                                                                                                                      & Luke Bowen
Tina Cleverton writes in to tell us that one of her
favourites is the Copper Chandni - on the corner of
Thalia Street at the Dhabab Street intersection.

Although I’ve eaten in the ‘Men-Only’ section
downstairs, Tina tells us that the upstairs family
section is ‘Bollywood’ themed.

“The best part of the menu”, she says “is made up
of tandoori style dishes for vegetarians and non
vegetarians alike. Generous sized portions can be
made as spicy or as mild as you like.”                   The food is nicely presented on wooden serving
                                                         platters and is accompanied by the usual soy, ginger
Apparently the food is typical of North Indian           and wasabe. The kids thought that the seaweed
cuisine and according to Tina, “The food is just         salad was a bit grim, but the adults all agreed that
like good home Indian cooking with the staff and         it was delicious. The Sushi Yoshi salad, with pieces
service being pleasant and helpful.”                     of salmon, shrimp and tuna was considered much
                                                         more acceptable by the younger contingent.
On our visit to the singles section, Luke & I enjoyed
washing the food down with the yoghurt based drink       We followed the salads with some tempura shrimp
known as Lassi. Although it is available in a sweet      and vegetables. All were well cooked and the batter
variety blended with sugar, my own preference is for     was suitably light and non greasy. In fact, it was
the salty version with a variety of Indian spices.       generally very well done.

All in all, excellent food, great ambience and           The sushi, sashimi, salads, maki and tempura were
great value for money. Good for groups of 4 to 8         all good and more importantly tasted and looked
people.                                                  fresh – always an issue when one is 250 miles from
                                                         the nearest sea! The children particularly like tuna,
Simon Messum is another correspondent for this           so we tend to go heavy on the sashimi in any sushi
edition who wrote in with a review of Sushi Yoshi on     restaurant and in Sushi Yoshi, they were both very
Dhabab Street.                                           happy with their fish.

“Sushi Yoshi is part of a chain, having 2 branches       Overall the whole family enjoyed this restaurant,
in KSA; the first in Jeddah and now on Dhabab            possibly not for the ambience, but certainly for the
Street in Riyadh. The décor is pretty bloody awful in    food and the genuinely good and attentive service.
the singles section downstairs, but somewhat more        For once our children turned down the option of
muted and to my mind better, upstairs in the family      a pudding and even the funky flavoured Japanese
section.                                                 import kit kat bars – so the food must have met with
                                                         their approval!
Once you have got over the lurid orange decoration
and plastic chairs, the menu comes as a welcome          It’s not the cheapest meal in Riyadh, but it is nice to
distraction. Whether you enjoy the story of the Sushi    eat sushi and sashimi and to my mind it’s worth it.
Yoshi family and their idiosyncrasies is open to         Sushi Yoshi do a take away and a delivery service
debate, but what isn’t is the service and the quality    in neat (and very bright orange) boxes, so perhaps
of the food. The Asian staff seem to know their stuff    also something to consider as an alternative to the
and the service is attentive and best of all, quick as   standard fast food lunches.”
befits a Sushi bar.
                                                         I’m grateful to Simon as well for reviving another
                                                         interest and that was to get stuck in to some
                                                         traditional Saudi Fare.

                                                         Najd Village is one of those places in Riyadh that
                                                         you really should take your UK visitors, if only
                                                         to show them that Saudi cuisine is not a total
                                                         contradiction in terms! The old fashioned façade of
                                                         the restaurant is on Takhasussi Street, tucked away
                                                         between more modern looking buildings and is a

                                                                                                               RGBB News
                                                                             It’s pretty much men only most of the time but
                                                                             families can apparently be accommodated if
                                                                             booked in advance, tel 464 6530. This is a great
                                                                             place to go with friends and particularly with visitors.
                                                                             The food is fantastic and not the usual kebab and
                                                                             humus that you get everywhere else. The meals
                                                                             are not expensive and it is an experience, rather
                                                                             than just another average meal in an average

                                                                             Helen & Chris write in to say “If your taste buds are
Above: L to R        little hard to find as the signage is poor. However,    hankering after the best Chinese food in Riyadh then
Saleeq and Jareesh   once you’ve found it, the old style wooden doors        head no further than the Riyadh Chinese Restaurant
                     open into a small museum type area which hints at       (aka Mr. Cho’s) just off Circle Supermarket Street in
                     the ambience of the rest of the restaurant.             central Riyadh.”

                     Once inside the dining area is arranged into open       Two large Red pillars mark the entrance and this
                     air floor seating behind low wall partitions or, for    is in fact our favourite Chinese as well, Luke and I
                     those who prefer it, inside rooms; again with floor     have eaten there on several occasions, indeed most
                     seating, cushions etc. The rooms, and indeed the        recently only a few days ago. You may have to park
                     whole restaurant, have mud brick walls in a Nejdi       just around the corner but you’ll be grateful of the
                     style and are reminiscent of the earlier architecture   short walk back to the car with a full stomach on
                     of the region.                                          leaving.

                     The food in Najd village is traditional Saudi fare      Helen goes on to say “The restaurant has a close-
                     with none of the usual Lebanese/Syrian food that        knit family feel to it enhanced by intricate carvings
                     you will normally eat in Arabic restaurants. There is   on the ceiling, but the highlight is the food.
                     a set menu if you are not sure what to order, but on
                     the last occasion we visited we were accompanied        Must have dishes are the hot and sour soup, prawn
                     by a Saudi from Riyadh who took great delight in        toast and mini spring rolls. Follow this with kindu
                     ordering his favourite dishes for us.                   chicken and one or two other dishes from the
                                                                             extensive menu and you won’t be disappointed. A
                     The food was delicious and apparently entirely          recent addition to the menu is Koodu. This consists
                     authentic to the region. My favourites are Saleek,      of a large bowl of broth placed in the middle of the
                     (or Saleeq) a cardamom infused chicken dish and         table. A wide selection of fresh ingredients is then
                     Jareesh, lamb with cracked wheat/oats cooked to         supplied to be cooked in the broth at your table.
                     porridge; all washed down with Laban.                   The perfect dish for a larger group.”

                     Generally the service is excellent too, but on this     When Luke and I ate with a couple of friends last
                     occasion it was a little slow; probably due to the      week, we started with the soup and after sharing
                     popularity of this restaurant. The waiters don’t        five main dishes and a couple of jugs of Saudi
                     speak a lot of English but we all understood each       Champagne the bill came to about SR85 per
                     other enough to get by.                                 head.

                                                                             The Riyadh Chinese also does deliveries and take-
                                                                             aways if you fancy sampling the delightful food at
                                                                             home, or possibly in the office. tel:465 5451

                                                                             One more to mention in this write-up is the Bourj Al
                                                                             Hammam on Takhassussi south of the King Faisal
                                                                             Hospital. Considered one of the best Lebanese
                                                                             restaurants in the Kingdom, the name means ‘Tower
                                                                             of Pigeons’ a reference to the house special - roast
                                                                             pigeon stuffed with rice. Booking is essential since
                                                                             it’s a popular venue both for lunch and dinner for
                                                                             expats and locals alike. I had the ‘lunch special’
                                                                             last week, Siyyadeh, delicately spiced fish served on
                                                                             a bed of rice which was excellent, but leave some
                                                                             room for the magnificent baklava sweets presented
                                                                             on a trolley for you to take what you please. tel:
                                                                             441 1401

Hotel Al Khozama’s Chef Gareth shares
his recipes with RGBB news readers
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, the premier manager           Step 2. While the chicken
of ultra-luxury hotels and resorts throughout the        breast is cooking, remove
world, has recently appointed Chef de Cuisine,           and discard all stokes from
Gareth Carberry at Hotel Al Khozama in Riyadh            the baby spinach. Place in a
Saudi Arabia.                                            large bowl and add the grated
                                                         egg, parmesan cheese and
Chef Gareth brings to his new post a passion for         balsamic vinegar. Set aside
good food, a vibrant well organized personality
and a rich catering management experience. He            Step 3 To make the warm
started his career in Dublin where he worked for         dressing heat the clarified
Bang Café and fine dining restaurant Shanahans           butter in a frying pan with the
on the Green. Following more than 3 years                onions and mushrooms. Add
experience with Grand Hyatt Dubai as a Sous Chef         the veal bacon and fry for 1
at the award winning Manhattan Grill and then at         minute. Finally add the lemon
the Market Café managing 30 chefs in 4 different         juice and season with salt and
kitchens, he was hired by Tiara Palm Jumeira in          pepper.
Dubai to organize the pre opening team and to be
in charge of 6 outlets.                                  Step 4. Pour the warm dressing into the bowl with
                                                         the spinach mixture and cover the bowl with the
At Hotel Al Khozama Gareth overlooks 5                   pan. This will help to wilt the spinach leaves a little
restaurants with 18 chefs, and he takes personal         and keep the salad warm.
interest in talking with guests and having their input
for continuous development in the 5 outlets.             Step 5 Remove the chicken from the oven and leave
                                                         to rest for 1 minute.
One of his and his guests’ favorite recipes is
“Chicken & Baby Spinach salad”, which he is glad         Step 6. To plate the dish. Remove the pan from the
to share with RGBB news readers.                         top of the bowl and mix all the salad ingredients
                                                         together (the salad will not be really hot but just
Chicken and Baby Spinach Salad                           warm) taste the salad to correct the seasoning.
with warm dressing of veal bacon and mushrooms           Build the salad on one side of your plate. Cut your
                                                         chicken breast in large slices at an angle. Arrange
Ingredients - Prepares 10 portions                       the chicken next to the salad like a fan shape.

         100gr shallot diced or white onion              Garnish the salad with parmesan shaving and some
         250gr veal bacon                                crispy veal strips
         300gr button mushroom (sliced)
         50gr parmesan cheese (grated)                   Chef’s tips, Clarified butter is butter that has had
         200gr egg (boiled and grated)                   the milk solids and water removed. One advantage
         100ml balsamic vinegar                          of clarified butter is that it has a much higher smoke
         60ml Clarified butter                           point, so you can cook with it at higher temperatures
         30ml lemon juice (see note below)               without it browning and burning. Also, without the
         5ml Olive oil                                   milk solids, clarified butter can be kept for much
         10psc Chicken breast with bone                  longer without going rancid.
         1kg baby spinach leaves
         Salt and pepper                                 It is very easy to make.
                                                         Melt the butter slowly.
Garnish: Parmesan shavings, crispy veal bacon            Let it sit for a bit to
                                                         separate. Skim off the
Method                                                   foam that rises to the
                                                         top, and gently pour
Step 1. Place a pan over medium heat and add the         the butter off the milk
olive oil. Season the chicken breast with salt and       solids, which have
pepper and place the chicken skin side down on           settled to the bottom.
the hot pan. Leave for 2 to 3 minutes till the skin      Discard      the    milk
has turned a golden brown colour. Turn the chicken       solids and place in a
breast over and leave again for 2-3 mins. Place in a     container and use as
preheated oven for 12 minutes or till cooked.            you please.

 Mark Alexander
 Christian Bain
                         EADS DEFENCE & SECURITY SYSTEMS
                         SPECIALIST FENCING SYSTEMS
 Steve Beck
 Alan Bell
                         PARADIGM - GPT
                         OLAYAN FINANCING COMPANY
                                                                                               to new members
 Salem Bin Abdoon        ABB Electrical Industries Co Ltd
 Sean Bryant             PARADIGM - GPT                                   Nick Kilner               BAE SYSTEMS
 Bill Burgess            BAE SYSTEMS                                      Christopher Knights       CYRIL SWEETT PLC
 Paul Busek              BRITISH MILITARY MISSION                         Tim Liverton              SABB
 Vince Carr              ADVANCED ARABIAN SIMULATION CO.                  Sébastien Long            SABB TAKAFUL
 Daniel Clare            OGILVYONE WORLDWIDE                              Phil Lynagh               OGILVYONE WORLDWIDE
 Mike Cox                EADS DEFENCE & SECURITY SYSTEMS                  Michael Makowy            RANA INVESTMENT COMPANY
 Michael Davis           HANMI INTERNATIONAL KSA LTD                      Stephen Martin            BAE SYSTEMS
 Jan de Haldevang        THALES (Training and Simulation)                 Steve Nesbitt             AL BABTAIN LeBLANC Tele. Systems
 Paul Gamble             JADWA INVESTMENT BANK                            Paul Outhwaite            UNITED MOTOR COMPANY
 Richard Gougeon         ITHRAA CAPITAL                                   Phil Pannell              PEPSI AL JOMAIH
 Zied Hanayen            ALLEN & OVERY LLP                                Paul Papanicolaou         MÖVENPICK HOTEL RIYADH
 Mark Hereford           BMI                                              Paul Pappin               SAUDI OGER
 Andy Isherwood          RIDER LEVETT BUCKNALL                            Alan Parsonage            EXXONMOBIL SAUDI ARABIA
 Duncan James            THE BRAND UNION                                  Stella Robinson           KING FAISAL SPECIALIST HOSPITAL
 Riyaz Jivanjee          EMEA BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT                        Ali Shafqat               KPMG
 Robin Jones             SABB                                             Mark Street               AL RAJHI FINANCIAL SERVICES

HMA gets his K
In the Spring edition of the RGBB News we ran an
article noting the appointment of Her Majesty’s
Ambassador to Knight Commander of the Order of
St. Michael and St. George. The order is the sixth
most senior in the British honours system although
two of the more senior awards have not been in
use for some time. The most Illustrious Order of
St. Patrick still exists but was last awarded in 1934
and the Most Exalted Star of India has been in
disuse since that country’s independence in 1947.
Sir William was dubbed during a ceremony at
Buckingham Palace on 27 March.

It’s silly-season again
                                                         imagination. Especially when male actors have to
                                                         perform in the nude, it can ruin their performance
It’s the approach of the silly season again, that time
                                                         disastrously if they, um, rise to the occasion, as
                                                         it were. Now I have perfected a small pill which
of the year when news is so short that journalists       guarantees several hours of non-activity.”
are reduced to fabricating entire news stories says
the Independent Newspaper. But do you think you          He is calling his product Niagra, as it makes
could tell the difference between a real story and       everything go down.
an invented one? Well, this is your chance to find
out. Here are two news stories today, of which only      2. It was, said Dutch police, the most original
one has appeared in the press. But can you spot the      excuse they had ever encountered for speeding.
genuine one? Here we go!                                 When they stopped a Dutch driver doing twice the
                                                         permitted speed in a 35mph zone, he claimed that
1. Dr Otto Zubrik of Split University has invented       he had just washed his car and was trying to get it
something which he claims works in the opposite          dry. “Actually,” said the stolid Dutch police, “if you
way to Viagra.                                           want to dry your car, it is very effective to drive at the
                                                         legal 35mph as well. Also, it is quite effective just to
“Many men think that the most important thing            leave it parked in the open.”
in the world is to increase their manhood, their
potency, their sexual powers, whatever you call          Well, have you made your selection? Which one
it, and for them I am sure it is true. But there are     had the ring of truth to you? Very good! It was the
other people for whom it is very important at certain    Dutch driver. And before you write in and say it
times to resist excitement. I am thinking of athletes    sounds untrue, I didn’t actually say it was true. I just
and other people whose kit leaves little to the          said it had appeared in the papers.

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