Trump hotel 'received big financial boost' after Saudi crown prince visit

Trump hotel 'received big financial boost' after Saudi crown prince visit
3 min read
05 August, 2018
A visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to New York gave Donald Trump's hotel in the city a big boost.
Trump's relationship with Saudi Arabia has been called into question [Getty]

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to the US earlier this year gave US President Donald Trump's New York hotel a big boost, after years of falling revenues.

Trump International Hotel in Manhattan saw a surprise rise in profits following a "last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia", General Manager Prince Sanders wrote in a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

After two years of losses, President Trump's hotel witnessed a 13 percent jump in profits due to the huge entourage that joined the crown prince.

Prince Mohammed and other royals did not stay at Trump International Hotel, as the suites were deemed too small, but many of retainers and staff accompanying the king-in-waiting did spent big at the hotel, according to the letter.

"We were able to accommodate many of the accompanying travellers" due to "our close industry relationships", the letter said.

Many have suggested Trump could be guilty of a conflict of interest, due to the money generated by the Saudi royal visit for the president's private businesses.

Prince Mohammed's three-week tour of the US saw him meet business and political leaders, as he seeks investors for his Vision 2030 economic diversification plan for the kingdom.

He also held talks with President Donald Trump at the White House in New York.

Many have said that the huge amount of money spent at the Trump hotel amount to "a sweetener" for the president with any deals between the Saudi and US governments.

"[This is] just another piece of evidence that Donald Trump is violating the nation's original anti-corruption law: He's getting payments from foreign governments," Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told CNBC

"Everybody in the country has an interest in being protected from the president prioritising his bottom line over our interest as a country."

Similar situations have also been noted.

During visits by leading figures from the Malaysian, Kuwaiti and Philippines' governments to the US, Trump's Washington hotel hosted or catered for the officials earning tens of thousands of dollars.

A federal court has given the attorney general for the District of Columbia and Frosh the green light to file lawsuits against Trump for breaking a clause in the US constitution.

These are aimed at preventing lawmakers receiving financial benefits from foreign governments, which might lead to a conflict of interest.

Saudi Arabia's government also spent $270,000 at Trump's Washington hotel according to the HuffPost.

"It's a historic decision," Frosh told the website. "The judge says that the emoluments are broad anti-corruption clauses and can be enforced in the courts."

Questions have surrounded Trump's relationship with Saudi Arabia and Gulf ally the UAE.

Trump surprised US officials when he made his first overseas trip as president to Saudi Arabia in 2017, when a huge arms deal between the kingdom and US was announced.

Days after his visit, Qatar's news agency website was hacked with false statements attributed to the emir posted on the site. Experts have suggested the hacking originated from a "blockading country".

Saudi Arabia and the UAE then launched a blockade on US ally Qatar citing dubious factors after the hacking, with Trump breaking protocol and backing the move on Twitter.

An article published on US website The Intercept this week has suggested that then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - who attempted to mend the rift - might have lost his job following UAE pressure on the president.

Qatar remains under blockade.