Jared Kushner met Saudi crown prince on recent regional tour

The former senior adviser to former US President Donald Trump also met Aramco’s CEO on that trip.

Jared Kushner
Kushner also went to the United Arab Emirates and visited the Expo 2020 in Dubai with his family [File: Bloomberg]

Jared Kushner, son-in-law and former senior adviser to former U.S. President Donald Trump, held talks with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and top officials from Saudi Aramco in recent weeks as part of a regional tour that mixed personal travel and business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Kushner, who forged a close personal relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman during the Trump administration, has traveled widely in the Persian Gulf region in the past few months, said some of the people, who requested anonymity as the matter is private.

Kushner helped broker normalization of ties with Israel and several Arab nations while working in the White House. He has since gone on to launch a private equity fund, Affinity Partners.

Although the focus of the recent trip wasn’t fund-raising for that venture, Kushner has sought backing from the $500 billion Saudi sovereign wealth fund, which is chaired by Prince Mohammed, along with other government-controlled funds in the region, some of the people said.

As well as visiting Riyadh to meet the crown prince, Kushner took a trip to Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, where he met with Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser and other top officials of the state-run oil group. Two of the people said the discussions focused on potential renewable energy investments.

The trip to Saudi Arabia was part of a wider visit to some of the Middle East’s biggest economies. He also went to the United Arab Emirates and visited the Expo 2020 in Dubai with his family, and made a visit to Qatar.

Kushner declined to comment. The Kushner Companies did not respond to a request for comment. The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication also didn’t respond to a request for comment. Aramco declined to comment.

Kushner began setting up his investment firm last year. The venture has drawn some controversy because Kushner has been seeking capital from some of the Middle Eastern countries he dealt with while in the White House, including Saudi Arabia.

At the end of November, Affinity Partners had raised $2 billion, a filing showed. The firm plans to update the figure to reflect new commitments, which exceed $3 billion, Bloomberg reported last month.

Trump is still considered a potential presidential candidate in 2024.

Kushner isn’t the only Trump ally to keep a high profile in the kingdom since the Biden administration took office.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin paid a visit to Riyadh in October for the annual Future Investment Initiative, which some refer to as the “Davos of the Desert” for bringing together leaders of finance and government. Mnuchin has raised several billion dollars for his firm Liberty Strategic Capital, including an investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

While the Crown Prince enjoyed close ties with the U.S. during the Trump administration, including directly with the president and Kushner, the relationship has cooled under Biden’s White House. President Biden hasn’t spoken to the crown prince since his election in 2020, instead dealing with his 86-year-old father, King Salman.

Source: Bloomberg