For government, royal court and PIF

$31.5 Million







#8 (tie)

Rose Law Group
(for Fondomonte Arizona)

Hired: Jan. 2019

NEW Q1 and Q2 domestic lobbying filings

NEW Amended Q1/2019 domestic lobbying filing

The Arizona-based Rose Law Group reported no first or second quarter lobbying activity for Saudi-owned alfalfa farm Fondomonte Arizona. And the firm also amended a filing from the first quarter of 2019 to note that the firm’s co-founder, Court Rich, and an attorney, Evan Bolick, are no longer lobbying for Fondomonte Arizona.

LS2 Group
(for Saudi Arabia)

Hired: Nov. 2019
Contract: $126,500/month

NEW Amendments

Maine political consultant Kathleen Summers-Grice will be paid $8,000 per month for her work for Saudi Arabia via LS2 Group. Crystal Canney, a former aide to Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, will be paid $2,000 per month for her work on the account. And LS2 Group disclosed 11 podcast and radio interviews with Saudi Embassy spokesman Fahad Nazer that were “procured” by the firm, in addition to a May 21 Greater Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations webinar with the embassy’s political and congressional officer, Musab Al-Saud, and Saud Abdulaziz Kabli, the embassy’s communications director.

For Neom Company (owned by Public Investment Fund)

Hired: April 2020

NEW Contract

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM Company, which is owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has hired PR giant BCW to “engage in an international media strategy” for NEOM, a futuristic city that had previously hired Ruder Finn and Teneo Strategy. Senior vice president Shaila Manyam, senior vice president Stephanie Nye, senior vice president Nathaniel Wilson, managing director Margaret Flanagan, Mohammed AlMaskati, Nora Feidi and Rania Moussly are registered to work on the account.

Aramco Affiliated Services Company
(for Saudi Aramco and Saudi government)

Registered: Nov. 2016
2018 expenditures: $5.7 million

NEW Supplemental
(Dec. 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020)

Aramco Affiliated Services Company did not report fees or activity for Saudi Arabia or Saudi Aramco in the six-month period ending May 31.

McKeon Group
(for Saudi Arabia)

Hired: Jan. 2018
2018 fees: $550,000

NEW Supplemental
(Dec. 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020)

Saudi Arabia paid former House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Buck McKeon’s McKeon Group $270,000 for “unpaid invoices for 2019” in the six-month period ending May 31. The firm disclosed sending emails in April to more than a dozen congressional offices — including HASC chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., and the HASC professional staff — about oil price stabilization and a cease-fire in Yemen.

(for SABIC)

Hired: Feb. 2020
Contract: $5.6 million (plus $1 million in expenses)

NEW Informational materials

For Saudi petrochemicals giant SABIC, Edelman distributed a press release on a plan announced by the Saudi Arabia-hosted Business 20 (B20) to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Certus Insights
Qorvis subcontractor
(for Saudi Arabia)

Hired: May 2019
Contract: $303,000

NEW Filing

Certus Group, which works for Saudi Arabia, was paid $249,000 by Qorvis for surveys and a focus group from July through December. The firm paid the American Directions Group $79,000 from July through December for the fielding and sampling of surveys. It also paid Stratalys $28,000 for focus group moderation and recruitment. Qorvis hired Certus in May 2019 to conduct five surveys on “American attitudes and perceptions of Middle East and current event issues.”

KARV Communications
(for Public Investment Fund)

Hired: Jan. 2019

NEW Contract

KARV Communications has signed a new contract with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. Under the contract, which began Jan. 1 and ends March 31, 2021, KARV was to be paid $120,000 per month from January to June and $132,000 per month thereafter. But, the filing notes, “Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, total Monthly Fee (15 months): shall stick back to ($120,000/month) instead of ($132,000), until June 30 and will be mutually extended, subjected to possible extension of travel restrictions.”

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
(for Public Investment Fund)

Hired: March 2018
2018 fees: $0

NEW Termination

Akin Gump stopped working for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) on Dec. 31, 2018. The firm was hired by the PIF in March 2018 to provide “guidance with respect to PIF’s engagement with [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] and the United States Government in connection with PIF’s current and anticipated investments in the United States.”

Ruder Finn
For Neom Company (owned by Public Investment Fund)

Hired: June 2020
Contract: $1.7 million/year

NEW Contract

Saudi Arabia’s futuristic Neom city has hired Ruder Finn to a one-year, $1.7 million agreement. The firm will work on Neom’s corporate social responsibility digital platforms and digital community management. The contract specifically calls for Ruder Finn, the second US firm hired by Neom to build its reputation, to work on social media management; programs brand strategy and visual identity development; website development, design and management; and filming services. The agreement was effective June 10. CEO Kathy Bloomgarden, Senior Vice President Brian Laird and Group Vice President Brianna Rabe will work on the account. Teneo Strategy has worked for Neom since May 2019.

Khashoggi killing cripples $30 million Saudi lobbying blitz


Julian Pecquet



Julian Pecquet is the Editor of Special Projects for Al-Monitor, where he supervises the award-winning Lobbying Tracker as well as managing long-form stories. Before that he covered the US Congress for Al-Monitor. Prior to joining Al-Monitor, Pecquet led global affairs coverage for the political newspaper The Hill.

Posted: September 11, 2019

Saudi Arabia broke new records for lobbying spending last year only to suffer its worst reputational setback since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

All told, the Saudi government, royal court and public companies spent almost $32 million on lobbyists and public relations in 2018 to keep the pressure on regional foes Iran and Qatar and promote the country’s Vision 2030 of social reform and economic modernization. The highly publicized murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October has instead created a self-inflicted PR crisis that continues to plague bilateral relations a year later.

Under pressure from Congress, the Donald Trump administration slapped sanctions on 17 Saudi officials in November. Yemen war opponents seized on Riyadh’s diminished standing to try to limit arms sales and other US support for the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis. Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and top business leaders bailed on Riyadh’s October 2018 “Davos in the Desert” investment conference.

Paradoxically, Saudi Arabia’s massive lobbying army has atrophied at a time when it’s needed the most.

At least six firms abandoned Riyadh in the immediate aftermath of the Khashoggi scandal: BGR; the Harbour Group; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Gladstone Place Partners; and Glover Park and its subcontractor, CGCN. Together the firms accounted for $3 million in Saudi lobbying spending in 2018, or almost 10% of the total.

In another blow, the pro-Riyadh Arabia Foundation think tank shuttered its doors this summer after just two years in operation amid a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by its former communications director. At the same time, Saudi critics have ramped up their own efforts, with the advocacy group Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a Khashoggi brainchild, hiring law firm Kilpatrick Townsend Stockton to lobby Congress on “advancing democracy in the Middle East” on behalf of the slain journalist’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. (The firm reported $50,000 in payments in the first quarter of 2019.)

Despite the backlash, Saudi Arabia retains a hefty lobbying and public relations force in Washington, with 10 firms still working for various ministries. The influence campaign is dominated by Qorvis/MSLGroup, which has represented the kingdom since 2002 and brought in a whopping $17.7 million in the days and weeks after Khashoggi’s murder after last reporting fee payments in December 2016.

Riyadh’s strategic partnership with the United States against Iran — and its thirst for costly US weapons — have helped mitigate some of the fallout. Trump successfully vetoed congressional efforts to block arms sales, while giving the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a pass on sanctions.

Meanwhile, a monthslong lobbying push by the Ministry of Energy paid off earlier this year when US Energy Secretary Rick Perry approved transfers of nuclear power technology and assistance. The Saudi ministry hired King & Spalding, Pillsbury, Gowling WLG and the law offices of David B. Kultgen in early 2018 to help develop a commercial nuclear program by the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. (The four firms were paid a combined $3.4 million last year.)

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) has sought to move beyond the Khashoggi controversy by stepping up its US influence operations. The $320 billion fund hired KARV Communications for $120,000 per month this January for the express purpose of creating distance between the PIF and the embattled crown prince. And NEOM, the PIF-owned company building a futuristic city in the Saudi desert, signed a $2.1 million contract with Teneo Strategy in June to build support for the mammoth project.


Main lobbying firm:
Qorvis Communications



$31.5 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018



  • Kushner intervenes to keep arms flowing
  • Aramco listing is a success
  • Saudis hire new PR firepower
  • Trump fails to respond to attack on oil installations
  • US sanctions ex-Saudi consul in Khashoggi murder
  • Congress seeks to end Yemen war