March 2020 Chairman’s Message

Dear ABGR Members,

Last month, I ended my report with a brief comment on the COVID-19 pandemic that has now gripped the world. I certainly didn’t anticipate the position we all find ourselves in now. Few countries remain that have no cases and many millions of people are under various degrees of community isolation as their political leaders and doctors struggle to stem the proliferation of the virus and save lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected, with added respect for the medical professionals who are on the front lines.

The reality was brought home to me when I returned to the kingdom earlier this month just two days before all international flights into Saudi Arabia were halted. Within 24 hours of arriving I was experiencing chest and head congestion, though no fever, and felt I should err on the side of caution and see a doctor. Making a long story short, I was admitted to the hospital and placed in isolation for three days until my COVID-19 test results came back. Thankfully, I was negative and released to home quarantine for two weeks.

Comparing my treatment to the response in some countries, I must applaud the kingdom’s leaders and medical community for their prompt and focused response to the threat. There was no question that I would be tested quickly, no apparent shortage of protective equipment for the medical staff, and no effort spared to guard my health. 

In addition, my oldest daughter is a registered nurse in Las Vegas who is working directly with COVID-19 positive patients. 

The impact on the global economy is already serious and will have severe repercussions for American business at home and abroad for a long time after the medical threat is neutralized. Many local company offices have closed, sent their employees to work from home, and now find access to their Saudi customers limited to nonexistent. 

As a result of this reality, the ABGR is suspending “physical programming” for the time being, however, we have discussed live streaming with our Operations teams, and we are looking at unique programming solutions amid these unprecedented events. We have to adapt our forward-thinking strategy by adapting to remote-capable technologies. With that in mind, we hope to resume a schedule of ‘virtual’ events, and will keep you informed. 

In the interim, the board is continuing to work to solidify our status as the recognized American Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia. We will also seek reports and resources to share via email and our web page that we hope will be of help as you assess the future for your businesses. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or other board members if you have questions that we may help to answer.

Let’s all make smart choices that protect our health and that of our loved ones, and follow the guidance issued by our hosts to support the kingdom’s actions to keep us all safe. 

Be well.

Best regards,

Kevin Darnell

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About the Author

Kevin Darnell

Kevin Darnell is director of Business Development and Operations for Raytheon Saudi Arabia (RTN SA) and is based in Riyadh. +966-11-478-2554