The Greek American Bridging Opportunities Between USA and Saudi Arabia

Christos Marafatsos (right) and Ibrahim Al-Omar, Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) discuss US business interests in Saudi Arabia.

As pressure continues to mount in the U.S. against Saudi Arabia over the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, Greek-American businessman Christos Marafatsos urges caution on all sides.

Marafatsos is Vice-Chairman of the National Diversity Coalition for President Trump and President of Blue Sky Capital, an American financial advisory and Investment firm headquartered in Washington D.C. He was among world business leaders attending the recent Future Investment Initiative held in October. Widely known as “Davos in the Desert,” the event brings together political and business leaders for meetings in Riyadh every year.

In the wake of Khashoggi’s killing, many international business leaders and Western officials pulled out of the forum, including the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, Uber, Siemens and Blackrock.

Marafatsos, however, believes that the close political and economic relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “cannot be overshadowed over one very serious and unfortunate incident as long as appropriate consequences are issued to those held responsible.”  In a conversation with the Greek Reporter, he added that “Though serious, an incident like this will not and cannot undermine the strong and strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Greek American businessman is interested in large-scale infrastructure and development projects, including those in entertainment, healthcare and education sectors that are central to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision for 2030.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in the Kingdom right now especially with [bin Salman’s] leadership and the reforms,” Marafatsos had noted to CNN in Riyadh last month.

According to the Greek-American businessman, “the Crown Prince is implementing both social and economic reforms that make doing business and sharing ideas for growth easier.”

Speaking at the conference last month, bin Salman said the kingdom would overcome any challenge and that his projects and reforms would continue.

“It’s a great time for Blue Sky Capital and all American companies to be doing business in Saudi Arabia as the country moves to implement the Saudi 2030 Vision,” he added. The plan aims to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil while diversifying its economy and developing sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

“The successful US relationship with Saudi Arabia goes back several decades. We have strategic interests, we have economic interests, and we’re complete allies. That’s something the United States doesn’t forget over night,” Marafatsos stated.

“Under the reform-minded Crown Prince and the leadership of President Trump, opportunities are opening up for American companies and the relationship is again solidified,” he added.