Ivanka Trump secures $100 mn Saudi, UAE donation to World Bank fund
22 May 2017
A World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs, proposed by Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, will get $100 million in funding from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
World Bank President Jim Young Kim made the announcement during the US President's visit to Saudi Arabia. Trump was accompanied by his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
"We thought it was a fantastic idea," Kim said. "But we had no idea how quickly this would build. This is really a stunning achievement. I've never seen anything come together so quickly, and I really have to say that Ivanka's leadership has been tremendous." The money will help kick off a $1 billion women's empowerment fund that the World Bank will announce in July, he said.
UAE's ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, said in a statement that the promised donation reflects "our commitment to empowering women in our region and builds on the progress we have made in our country, where women play a role in every segment of society."
Critics, however, point out that Ivanka's actions ran counter to Trump's election rhetoric wherein he had criticised the Clinton Foundation, a charity run by rival candidate Hillary Clinton, for accepting donations from repressive Middle East regimes such as Saudi Arabia.
USA Today quoted a June 2016 Facebook posting in which Trump said, "Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays. Hillary must return all money from such countries!"
During an October debate, Trump also told Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, "Saudi Arabia giving $25 million, Qatar, all of these countries. You talk about women and women's rights? So these are people that push gays off business - off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly. And yet you take their money."
However, the Ivanka-inspired contribution to the World Bank fund will help provide technical help and investment funding for women business owners and is different from the Clinton Foundation. While Ivanka Trump proposed the idea along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she is not involved with its operation.
Norm Eisen, former ethics official for the Obama Administration and a regular critic of the Trump family's conflicts of interest, also noted in an email to NPR, "In my view foreign government donations to a fund run by a reputable international organisation like the World Bank for a good cause are generally acceptable."
But Eisen said the donations need to be strictly vetted and must be transparent.
"Based on what we know, there's no reason to believe that those two things did not happen. That said, the hypocrisy is concerning, and the general miasma of corruption that surrounds all things Trump suggests some extra scrutiny here," he added.