Sir Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change has been revealed to maintain its involvement in a modernization initiative led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. This revelation comes in the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist who was murdered and dismembered by a Saudi government hit squad in December 2018.
While the Crown Prince was accused of personally ordering the killing, he has vehemently denied responsibility, attributing the act to rogue Saudi agents. Despite the controversy surrounding the murder, Sir Tony’s institute has confirmed that it is still collaborating in the development of Vision 2030. This scheme aims to boost tourism and diversify the Saudi economy beyond its dependence on oil.
In a statement, Sir Tony’s spokesman expressed their deep condemnation of Khashoggi’s murder, characterizing it as a “terrible crime” that should have never occurred. However, they emphasized their belief in the significance of the ongoing social and economic reforms in Saudi Arabia, stating that the relationship between the West and the Gulf kingdom is of critical strategic importance. Consequently, they justified the institute’s continued engagement in Saudi Arabia.
It was previously reported that the Institute had been advising the Saudi government as part of a £9 million “not-for-profit” arrangement. Additionally, there have been recent reports that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been invited to visit the UK in the autumn, although the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson declined to confirm or deny this.
Founded in 2016 by Sir Tony Blair, the Institute for Global Change employs around 750 staff engaged in various projects across 40 different countries.