UFC owner Ari Emanuel addressed ongoing concerns about Saudi Arabia’s potential involvement in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
The reason why this is relevant to the UFC is thanks to a pending $400 million investment from the Saudi Public Investment Fund to Endeavor, the company that owns the mixed martial arts promotion.
Emanuel didn’t say much when asked to address the situation where Saudi Arabia is being accused of orchestrating the murder of Khashoggi after he entered their consulate in Turkey several days ago.
The royal family in Saudi Arabia also had a business and technology conference scheduled in the near future but several high profile U.S. based companies involved have already dropped out due to concerns raised about missing journalist.
Emanuel didn’t address Endeavor’s business ties to Saudi Arabia but admitted concern over the ongoing situation in the Middle East.
“Here’s what I will say about it. I personally am really concerned about it,” Emanuel stated when speaking in Cannes, France on Monday. “We are concerned about it. But all I can say is that we are monitoring the situation. And that’s legally all I can say right now. It is very, very concerning. Really concerning.”
“On the face of it it’s upsetting. And we are monitoring the situation right now. That is all I am able and will say right now.”
Endeavor has been flirting with a major investment from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who controls the Saudi Public Investment Fund and has spent millions recently to diversify the country’s financial future in an attempt to move further away from dependency on fossil fuel.
While bin Salman has done everything possible to be viewed as a progressive leader making serious changes in Saudi Arabia, this latest incident has more and more companies shying away from a business relationship with the country.
As of now, it doesn’t appear the UFC owners at Endeavor are willing to cut ties with Saudi Arabia but Emanuel promises they are monitoring the ongoing situation as it develops.