The Israel-Hamas War affects Gulf investments
The GIST: The Israel-Hamas war has highlighted a “stark ideological difference” between Gulf states and the global sports enterprises they increasingly fund. Due to the conflict, sports deals between Gulf, European, and American entities are expected to slow, pause, or fall apart entirely.
The context: While all major U.S. sports leagues — including NFL and NWSL teams — issued similar statements, the leaders of Gulf-based sovereign wealth funds had varying responses. The NBA’s Washington Wizards “stand with the people of Israel,” while the Qatari government, a passive minority investor in the Wizards, said Israel was “solely responsible for the ongoing escalation.”
- In the golf world, the PGA Tour issued a statement that drew online criticism amid its reported merger with LIV Golf. While LIV didn’t comment, Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) that funds LIV, stated the Kingdom “continues to stand by the Palestinian people.”
The effect: Talks involving Gulf sovereign wealth investments have reportedly already been abandoned. Saudi Arabia is putting normalization plans with Israel “on ice,” and the pending merger between PGA and LIV may now be complicated further, especially as more golfers may leave for LIV.
Additional thoughts: Even if the war slows talks for now, it’s likely they will resume in the future — none of this has deterred the Saudi push for the 2034 FIFA men’s World Cup. Sports are the great unifier, money is the great equalizer, and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is hoping to transform the country into a sports destination.