Tony Blair Foundation confirms receiving millions in Saudi donations

Tony Blair Foundation confirms receiving millions in Saudi donations
2 min read
07 September, 2018
Accounts published by the former British prime minister's non-profit organisation have confirmed that millions of dollars in donations were received from Saudi Arabia.
The Tony Blair Institute revealed the figures on Wednesday [Getty]

Account records published by the Tony Blair Institute on Wednesday revealed that the non-profit established in the name of the former British prime minister has received millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia.

Up to $12 million was channeled to the Arab kingdom via a media organisation called Media Investment Limited (MIL), which is a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group, according to The Financial Times.

The published accounts also confirmed speculation in July that Blair had made an agreement with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assist with one of the young prince's ambitious modernisation projects.

The institute, which was founded in 2016, came under much scrutiny after media reports about dealings with Saudi Arabia surfaced. Questions were raised about the institute's decisions, including the production of flattering articles about bin Salman. In one article, the non-profit said that "Britain should learn from Saudi Arabia and how it has demonstrated a clear commitment to tackling the politicisation of Islam to inform policymaking."

It also advocated the ambitious young prince's plans for Saudi Arabia, saying that "the crown prince has demonstrated a level of conviction, clarity and coherence in identifying and understanding the nature of Islamist extremism that Western policymakers should seek to learn from."

But despite investing heavily in branding himself as a reformist prince, bin Salman's reputation has been tarnished by a sweeping crackdown on opposition and dissent in Saudi Arabia, which has included the arrests of activists, rival family members and prominent public figures opposed to the prince's policies.

In addition to the political clampdown, the crown prince's spearheading of Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen has caused rights groups and critics of the prince to hold him directly responsible for the humanitarian disaster that has ensued.