- Disgruntled Saudis have pulled tens of billions of dollars
out of the US, signalling a deep alienation from America.
- One analyst said the total funds withdrawn by individual
investors amount to $200bn. Other bankers put the figure nearer to $100bn.
- The US-Saudi alliance was put under severe strain after
September 11, when 15 of the aeroplanes' 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
- Accusations that Saudi Arabia's austere brand of Islam
breeds terrorism and its charities finance Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network
have been perceived in the kingdom as attacks on Saudi society and its
- An analyst from the Rand Corporation said at a Pentagon
briefing this month that Saudi Arabia was the "kernel of evil",
exacerbating concerns among the country's elite that they have become demonised
in the US and their money is no longer safe there.
- As part of the fight against terrorism, the US and Saudi
authorities have been monitoring the accounts of dozens of Saudi companies
and individuals, a move that alarmed Saudi merchants. Youssef Ibrahim,
a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations working on a project
re-examining US-Saudi relations, said Saudis had withdrawn at least $200bn
from the US in recent months. He said the move has been driven by hawkish
US commentators' calls for the freezing of Saudi assets.
- The trend, he added, can be expected to accelerate with
last week's trillion-dollar lawsuit by relative of the victims of September
11. The lawsuit accuses several Saudi institutions and charities and three
members of the royal family, including the defence minister, of financing
- Details of Saudi investments in the US are sketchy but
financial analysts believe they range between $400bn and $600bn. The funds
are invested in private equity, the stock and bond markets and real estate.
The figures include investments by members of the royal family.
- Investors are not thought to be closing down their US
accounts. Instead they are moving money into European accounts. Bankers
in London said the largest established Saudi investors did not yet seem
to be following the trend.
- One said: "I'm sceptical about a mass exodus. But
there was a lot of Saudi money with American banks that was not diversified,
now they [the Saudis] are spreading their wings. Perhaps 30 per cent to
50 per cent of the money that was with US banks is seeking diversification."
- The Saudi money shifts may have contributed to the recent
downward pressure on the dollar.
- "People no longer have any confidence in the US
economy or in US foreign policy," said Bishr Bakheet, a financial
consultant in Riyadh.
- "And if the latest lawsuit is not thrown out in
court, it will mean no more Saudi money in the US."