Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Riyadh was more ‘mature’ in spat with Washington, minister tells FII

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaks at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on October 25 Reuters/Ahmed Yosri
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman speaks at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh on October 25
  • Energy minister gave his take on the Opec+ row during Riyadh forum
  • Big Wall Street turnout for three-day Future Investment Initiative
  • Saudi investment minister and JPMorgan CEO also among the speakers

Saudi Arabia decided to be the “maturer guys” in a spat with the United States over oil supplies, the kingdom’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday.

Prince Abdulaziz made the comment during his speech to the kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII) event, which has drawn top executives from the US and elsewhere.

Earlier this month, the Opec+ group led by Saudi Arabia cut oil output targets, unleashing a war of words between the White House and Riyadh.

The two traditional allies’ relationship had already been strained by the US administration’s stance on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the Yemen war, as well as by Riyadh’s growing ties with China and Russia.

When asked at the FII summit how the energy relationship with the US could be put back on track after the cuts – given the G7 price-cap on Russian oil expected on December 5 – the Saudi energy minister said: “I think we as Saudi Arabia decided to be the maturer guys and let the dice fall.

“We keep hearing you ‘are with us or against us’. Is there any room for, ‘We are with the people of Saudi Arabia’?”

Earlier in the day, Khalid Al Falih, the Saudi investment minister, told the FII conference that Riyadh and Washington would get over their “unwarranted” spat, highlighting their long-standing corporate and institutional ties.

“If you look at the relationship with the people side, the corporate side, the education system, you look at our institutions working together, we are very close and we will get over this recent spat that I think was unwarranted,” he said.

Saudi Arabia and the US were “solid allies” in the long term, he added, but the kingdom was also “very strong” with Asian partners including China, which is the biggest importer of Saudi hydrocarbons.

The Opec+ cut has raised concerns in Washington about higher gasoline prices ahead of November’s midterm elections in the US – which could damage Democratic efforts to keep control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

After the oil producers’ decision was announced, President Joe Biden pledged that “there will be consequences” for US relations with Saudi Arabia.

Wall Street flocks to Riyadh

As in previous years, the FII three-day forum that opened on Tuesday had a big turnout from Wall Street, as well as other industries with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co, was among the speakers and expressed confidence that Riyadh and Washington would safeguard their 75-year-old alliance.

“I can’t imagine any allies agreeing on everything and not having problems – they’ll work it through,” Dimon said. “I’m comfortable that folks on both sides are working through and that these countries will remain allies going forward, and hopefully help the world develop and grow properly.”

The FII is a showcase for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, which aims to wean the economy off oil by creating new industries that generate jobs for millions of Saudis, as well as attracting foreign capital and talent.

No Biden administration officials were visible at the forum on Tuesday. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and former senior aide, was among the speakers, however.

Trump enjoyed good ties with the crown prince when he was in the White House. In the summer of 2021, about six months after Trump had left office, Saudi’s Public Investment Fund invested $2 billion with a firm incorporated by Kushner.

The organisers of the FII summit said this year’s edition attracted 7,000 delegates compared with 4,000 last year.

After its launch in 2017, the forum was marred by a Western boycott over Khashoggi’s killing in 2018. It recovered the following year, attracting leaders and businesses with strategic interests in Saudi Arabia, before the pandemic hit.