ABCK-AmCham Kuwait holds
it’s signature ‘Townhall’ event
ON Tuesday, Sept 22, the American Business Council – AmCham Kuwait (ABCKAmCham Kuwait) held its signature Townhall. Over sixty people tuned into the virtual event, which included the US Ambassador to Kuwait Alina L. Romanowski, guests from the ABCK-AmCham Kuwait community, US Embassy, and non-members from across different industries in Kuwait. The American Business Council of Kuwait (ABCK) is a non-profi t organization dedicated to the promotion and development of American business and American business interests in Kuwait. ABCK strives to promote better awareness of American companies, products, and services in Kuwait and provides a forum for American business and business interests and advocates the enhancement of business climate within Kuwait.
In his opening statements, ABCK-AmCham Kuwait’s Chairman, Frank Belonus, welcomed the US ambassador and the attendees. He spoke of the challenges of the pandemic and collective effort of the ABCK–AmCham Kuwait in confronting it. “Every single one of us has been affected personally and professionally, but like all challenges in life, we persevere, we find solutions, we band together, and we overcome,” said Belonus. “ABCK continues to find creative ways to support you and your business needs by providing webinars focused on these new challenges that we are facing, finding ways to bring our business communities together and by providing relevant information, facilitating knowledge sharing and providing you a collective voice.” Belonus went on to provide an overview of the event agenda and introduced ABCK-AmCham Kuwait’s board of directors. Following that, Belonus discussed the various Focus Groups within ABCKAmCham Kuwait and invited members to play an active role and join any focus group of interest.
The Guest of Honor, Ambassador Romanowski after taking to the virtual stage said, “For the past 35 years, AmCham Kuwait has played a vital role as the voice of the American business community in Kuwait. I’ve had the honor of speaking to AmCham Kuwait’s leadership and members at several virtual engagements throughout the COVID crisis. During our conversations, we discussed the importance of establishing and fostering strong relationships between our two governments and the business community in the U.S. and Kuwait to improve the bilateral trade and investment relationship.” She then discussed the importance of economic diversifi cation and various opportunities in different industries, emphasizing the bilateral trade between Kuwait and the U.S. and how together, both organizations work to improve the business environment and increase the overall trade relationship. The highlight of the event was the National Desert Storm Desert Shield Memorial. The guest speaker at the event, Cee Freeman, Vice President of the National Desert Storm Desert Shield gave a presentation detailing The National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial in Washington D.C. which will stand as a remembrance of the important events which took place in 1990 and 1991. “The world needs to remember what happened 30 years ago,” said Freeman, a desert storm veteran, who served in the war as a 20-year-old. “Our mission is to build this by the end of veteran’s day 2021 to commemorate and honor those members of the armed forces who served on active duty in support of operation desert storm and desert shield” said Freeman. He highlighted how the goal is to break ground on the Memorial in February 2021 to coincide with the 30th Anniversary of the Liberation of Kuwait, reiterating how The National Desert Storm War Memorial is deeply honored to receive this support from the State of Kuwait. “The memorial will commemorate a significant global moment of the 20th century,” he said. “Thirty four nations acted together in a U.S. led coalition to enforce U.N. Resolution 660 and liberate the State of Kuwait. The new approach to resolving conflict united the world, and signified the end of the Cold War.” The memorial will mention names of companies and individuals who make significant contributions to its realization. Later in the meeting, Esra Cavdarli Menke, ABCK-AmCham Kuwait Executive Director, introduced Rachad Abdallah, ABCK-AmCham Kuwait Chair of Membership Committee, and President of Honeywell Kuwait, Qatar, and Iraq. Mr. Abdallah provided a briefing on membership and policy updates such as the Member-to Member Benefits Program, MENA AmCham Benefits, and the Chamber’s various initiatives to connect corporate members. “One of our initiatives was to provide a grace period from February to September to those members in the hospitality industry who hadn’t paid their dues, and allowing the rest of the corporate members to pay in installments to ease the financial burden,” said Abdallah. He then concluded his remarks by encouraging attendees to learn more about ABCK-AmCham Kuwait. “If you know anyone who would like to join our chamber of commerce, please let us know, and we’ll be happy to contact them.”
This was followed by an overview of events and programs over the past year by Pete Swift, ABCK-AmCham Kuwait Vice Chairman and Events Committee Chair. Swift spoke of past events and highlighted some of the events that ABCK-AmCham Kuwait has planned for 2020. “We have been doing several online webinars since the pandemic, in collaboration with several members as well as different AmChams across the GCC. We will keep on doing webinars until the situation has settled. We can meet in a physical space” said Swift. He elaborated on some of the webinars held recently, emphasizing how the “main goal for these webinars was to educate/inform the public during this time, as several of these topics tackled questions that many of you had in mind, such as the laws at the beginning of the pandemic, fi nancial support and the central bank’s actions, the economy across the GCC and what we may be seeing in the future.” Swift handed over the virtual stage to Akram Kamal, ABCK-AmCham Kuwait Chair of U.S.-Kuwait Liaison Committee, who discussed in detail the latest updates from the U.S.-Kuwait Liaison Committee. Mr Kamal elaborated on different events and projects the committee organized such as roundtable with U.S. Undersecretary of State to discuss challenges of American businesses in Kuwait, a White Paper submitted to Kuwaiti Government and the U.S., and participation in various discussions with U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The event concluded with Esra Cavdarli Menke, ABCK-AmCham Kuwait Executive Director, briefing members on the Chamber’s activities and achievements over the past year. “Although we have had to take difficult measures due to the COVID-19 situation, not being able to host any physical events, we have been working hard to continue providing our members with the best,” said Menke. She concluded the session with Q&A where guest speakers responded to questions submitted by the attendees regarding the event, business concerns, and ABCK-AmCham Kuwait.