Tony Blair is using his Institute for Global Change (TBI) to quietly advise the Saudi government's modernization program in a multi-million pound deal, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
Earlier this year, the TBI, run by the former labor premier, clinched a pertinent agreement with Riyadh. The agreement is the first major deal involving the institute, which Blair established in 2016 after winding down his commercial operations.
A TBI spokesman said they had received a donation but the institute was a “not for profit organization” from which Tony Blair takes no personal remuneration.
“The institute is committed to working for modernization and reform in the region and working for a regional solution to the peace process,” he noted.
“To be clear, this is a donation to TBI, not a payment to Tony Blair personally and all of this money goes to support this work.”
The donations were reportedly made by Media Investment Ltd., a subsidiary of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group joint stock company, once chaired by the current Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud.
Tony Blair has worked in the Middle East since he left British public office in 2007.
Until 2015, he worked as a peace envoy for the United Nations and set up Tony Blair Associates to offer “strategic advice on a commercial and pro bono basis, on political and economic trends and governmental reform.”
Tony Blair has also had a role at JP Morgan Chase bank, has advised the governments of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Kuwait, but insists that these services never conflicted with his job as a UN envoy.
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The TBI has offices around the world, including in the United Arab Emirates which is Saudi Arabia’s closest ally in the region.
Reports about Blair’s involvement with Saudi Arabia comes amid growing criticism over Britain’s arms sales to Riyadh, who heads a multinational coalition fighting in Yemen.