Trump Said He Never Did Business in Saudi Arabia. That’s Not Quite True.

He tried to manage a hotel in Jeddah—but who was his partner?

Shealah D. Craighead/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

In an interview with the Washington Post published on Tuesday, President Donald Trump insisted he has never done business with Saudi Arabians—nor has he ever intended to, he said. But that’s not true. Beyond the myriad individual business deals Trump has done with Saudi Arabians—including the government of the Kingdom, members of the royal family, and wealthy Saudi businessmen—Trump actively pursued the opening of a Trump-branded hotel in Saudi Arabia as recently as 2015, while in the middle of running his presidential campaign. 

Here’s Trump’s full quote from the Post interview:

“And, by the way, never did business with them, never intend to do business with them. I couldn’t care less. This is a very important job that I’m doing right now. The last thing I care about is doing business with people. I only do business for us. Somebody said, well, maybe they’re an investor in one of his jobs. The answer is no.”

From Trump’s 2017 personal financial disclosure we know that while Trump may never have opened a hotel in Saudi Arabia, he got fairly far along in an effort to do so. In fact, Trump incorporated eight companies to manage a hotel in Jeddah. All are now closed.

 



Trump has set up numerous other corporations for hotel management or licensing deals around the world, including for a number of projects that never got off the ground. The companies related to the prospective Jeddah project were created in August 2015; two of them opened the very same day that Trump made a campaign stop in Mobile, Alabama, and told the crowd, “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

There is a mystery implied by the names of the Saudi-related entities Trump created. Several of the companies have names like “DT Jeddah Technical Services Manager,” implying that Trump was not planning on owning a hotel but advising a partner and possibly managing the operation. Trump has similar setups in locations around the world with similarly named companies—and a local partner who builds and owns the property. So, in Jeddah, who was Trump’s partner? 

For now, that remains a mystery. The Trump Organization did not return any requests for comment.

 

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate