With an alliance nearly a century old — reaching back to the start of oil exploration in the Kingdom in 1933, only a year after its official founding in 1932 — the United States and Saudi Arabia share a strong history of cooperation and communication in economics, security and business.
With strong ties based on a foundation of security coordination, military sales and support and financial cooperation, the partnership between our countries has survived periods of prosperity and challenges, pulling through to a promising future in business and profitability as Saudi Arabia reaches toward an economic and social transformation in the next decade.
If you plan to pursue business ventures in the complex cultural sphere of Saudi Arabia — with the expert help of The Quincy Group — it helps to know a little about the history of Saudi Arabia and U.S.-Saudi relations. Here’s some background to get you acquainted with Saudi Arabia and our connections in this region.
Timeline of U.S.-Saudi Relations
Founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud, who united four regions into the one Kingdom we recognize today, Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East by area and, with a population of about 30 million people, the fifth-largest Middle Eastern nation by population.
With a per-capita GDP almost as high as that of the United States and 16 percent of the globe’s oil reserves, the country is influential in global affairs, but it also boasts a strong cultural history. As the birthplace of Islam and the home of Mecca and Medina, two of the world’s holiest cities, Saudi Arabia is a market and a power in its own right.
U.S. collaboration with Saudi Arabia began in 1933, when exploration for oil supply in the Kingdom first began. Since then, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have collaborated under a mutually beneficial deal — while America gained access to affordable oil prices, Saudi Arabia gained security and military assistance from America. With the time and conflicts between, our partnership has withstood many security, economic, business and geopolitical challenges over the years.
From the 1950s onward, the U.S. military has played an active part in Saudi Arabian security and construction. While the two countries share in educational student exchange, the U.S. remains Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner, and Saudi Arabia is the United States’ largest customer in foreign military sales.
Today the alliance remains intact and is entering a new era as Saudi Arabia transforms its once oil-based economy into a socially and economically revolutionized, productivity-based new nation with ample business opportunities.
How Did The Quincy Group Get Involved in Saudi Arabia?
Following the Yalta Conference in 1945, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt boarded the U.S.S. Quincy and steamed south towards the Suez Canal for a secret meeting.
The Quincy, a veteran of the D-Day battle at Utah Beach, was a Baltimore class battleship that had been retrofitted for a Presidential cruise. Upon arrival at Egypt’s Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, Roosevelt met secretly for several days with King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, the country’s founding king.
The meeting was orchestrated by Colonel Bill Eddy, who is described by historian Thomas Lippman as, “the nearest thing the United States has to Lawrence of Arabia”. Colonel Eddy was a highly decorated Marine WWI combat veteran who received two Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, the Navy Cross, and the Distinguished Service Cross.
Eddy was also the great-uncle of our founder, Ken Close. Their family had come to Beirut in 1850, staying continuously in the region for 165 years as educators, doctors, and diplomats.
During WWII, Eddy was the OSS chief in North Africa and organized the Arab tribes for Operation Torch, among other missions. A fluent Arabic speaker, he later lived in Jidda and was a personal friend of King Abdulaziz. At the King’s request, Eddy served as the interpreter for both leaders during the days aboard the Quincy and the two heads of state developed an instant rapport with each other.
Although President Roosevelt died only weeks after this historic meeting, it proved to be an auspicious beginning to seven decades of unique friendship and support between our two countries.
Today, The Quincy Group continues to be one of the only trusted and established foreign consulting companies based in Saudi Arabia and boasting a unique understanding of the nation’s culture, customs and business environment.
Breaking Into Saudi Arabia’s Business Sphere
When it comes to business ventures with Saudi Arabia, it’s important to understand how both the government and business work in this complex partner nation. Religion and government are closely intertwined in business dealings, decision-maker approval is crucial to succeeding in business endeavors, and building a trusting and respectful relationship mindful of Saudi culture means everything in scoring a deal.
With a deep understanding of Saudi custom, communication, context and complexity built with 50 years of local experience, The Quincy Group has the assets, expertise and access to help you make connections in Saudi Arabia. Contact us today to learn more about how we help U.S. companies and business leaders advance in the Saudi business world.