Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubair, has found himself in the international spotlight this week after an alleged Iranian-backed plot to assassinate him in Washington was foiled. But just who is Adel al-Jubair?
Adel Bin Ahmed al-Jubair was born in the town of Harma, in the Al-Majma’ah Governorate of Riyadh Province on 1 February, 1962. He attended various schools in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Yemen, Lebanon, and the US. He obtained a B.A. summa cum laude in Political Sciences and Economics from the University of North Texas in 1982, and an M.A. in International Relations from Georgetown University in 1984.
Al-Jubeir entered diplomatic life early, being appointed into the Saudi Diplomatic Service in 1987, where he was posted to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC, where he served as Special Assistant to then Ambassador Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.
Between 1990 and 1991, al-Jubeir was part of the Saudi team that established the Joint Information Bureau at Dhahran during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He was also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991, and later served as a member of the Saudi delegation to the Multilateral Arms Control Talks in Washington DC in 1992. In December 1992, al-Jubeir was dispatched with the Saudi Armed Forces to Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. In 1994 al-Jubeir was appointed to the Saud Arabian permanent delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, and he also served as a Visiting Diplomatic Fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York between1994 and 1995.
In 2000, Mr. al-Jubeir – who is fluent in Arabic, English, and German – returned to Washington after he was appointed Director of the Saudi Information and Congressional Affairs Office, and he was named Foreign Affairs Advisor in the Crown Prince’s Court later in the same year.
Following the 9/11 attacks, Adel al-Jubeir’s media profile in the US rose significantly, as he appeared in various media defending the Kingdom and denouncing Al Qaeda. He is also said to have been instrumental in establishing and maintaining the US – Saudi Strategic Dialogue that was initiated by King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and President George W. Bush as a means to institutionalize Saudi – US bilateral relations and increase coordination on strategic, political, and economic issues.
In August 2005, he was appointed to the position of Advisor to the Royal Court. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, later appointed Adel al-Jubeir Saudi Ambassador to the United States on 29 January, 2007. Ambassador al-Jubeir presented his credentials to then President George W. Bush at the White House on 27 February, 2007.
As Ambassador, al-Jubeir has focused on strengthening the bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and the US by building ties across governmental departments in both countries. He has also focused on counter-terrorism, regional peace and security, bilateral trade, cultural exchange, and interfaith dialogue.
Ambassador al-Jubeir returns frequently to Saudi Arabia to consult with King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and other senior Saudi officials, and he is also regularly seen with the Saudi monarch in meetings with world leaders. He accompanied King Abdullah on numerous state visits, including visits to China, India, Pakistan, and Malaysia in 2006, and Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Egypt in 2007.
In November 2007, al-Jubeir accompanied Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal to the meeting of Arab League Foreign Ministers in Cairo, in preparation for the Annapolis Peace Conference. He was also a member of the Saudi delegation to the Annapolis Peace Conference later that year.
During al-Jubeir’s tenure as Ambassador to the US, Riyadh and Washington have signed a series of important bilateral agreements in key areas including civil nuclear cooperation, security relations, reciprocal visa policies, health and medical services, and science and technology cooperation, amongst others. Saudi Arabia and the US have also established Joint Task Forces to combat terrorism and terrorism financing, whilst there is also extensive cooperation between the Saudi and US militaries.
Al-Jubeir has also focused on improving Saudi relations with the United States Congress, through extensive meetings and briefings with US Congress members, as well as by facilitating visits to Saudi Arabia. In 2007, then Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited the Kingdom with a Congressional delegation, the first visit by a sitting Speaker of the House.
Al-Jubeir is also thought to be behind the increased tempo of visits between senior US and Saudi officials. Former US President George W. Bush visited Saudi Arabia twice during al-Jubeir’s tenure as ambassador, whilst former US Vice President Dick Cheney visited Riyadh on multiple occasions. US President Barack Obama also visited Saudi Arabia in 2009. Whilst Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz as visited the US twice in recent years, in November 2008 and July 2010.
In 2009, al-Jubeir received the Ambassador of the Year award from the National US – Arab Chamber of Commerce for his contribution to Saudi – US relations. In 2011, he was presented with the Diplomatic Achievement Award from the National Council on US – Arab Relations. He has lectured at universities and academic institutions across the US, and in 2006 received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of North Texas.