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Why Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is building luxe resorts and hotels in Albania and Serbia

Jared Kushner’s firm, Affinity Partners, is investing in billion-dollar real estate deals in the Balkans.
Jared Kushner's firm, Affinity Partners, is investing in billion-dollar real estate deals in the Balkans.

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump and a prominent figure in American politics, has set his sights on the Balkans with plans for three transformative property developments across Albania and Serbia.

Kushner’s foray into the region comes as his Miami-based private equity firm, Affinity Partners, engages in advanced discussions for investments exceeding $1 billion, in the hopes of reshaping the landscape of tourism and real estate in Southeast Europe.

Among the ambitious projects is the conversion of Albania’s Sazan Island, once a military stronghold, into a luxurious Aman-branded eco-resort community.

“The ability to develop 3 miles of beautiful coastline and a 1400-acre island in the middle of the heart of the Mediterranean is unique,” Kushner shared with The Post.

A rendering of the Sazan Sea Villas in Albania. Studio Genesis
A rendering of the Sazan Sea Villas in Albania. Studio Genesis
Affinity Partners is developing the space into a luxury resort. Studio Genesis
Affinity Partners is developing the space into a luxury resort. Studio Genesis

“The water is crystal blue like the Maldives. It’s beautiful. The beaches are incredible and it’s just one of these special places.”

Teaming up with friends Ric Grenell, former US Ambassador to Germany, and NYC developer Asher Abehsera, Kushner is drawn to Albania’s burgeoning tourism sector, buoyed by its rapid growth and international acclaim.

Notably, Albania’s Ksamil ranks among the top global destinations on Airbnb, reflecting the country’s emergence from its communist past to become a hotspot for travelers seeking unspoiled beauty and historical intrigue.

Albania was ranked as the fastest-growing tourist destination in Europe in 2023. Studio Genesis
Albania was ranked as the fastest-growing tourist destination in Europe in 2023. Studio Genesis

Once dubbed the “North Korea of Europe,” Albania has undergone an evolution and now boasts macroeconomic stability, a burgeoning tourist industry and a growing appeal to international investors.

Data from the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) underscores Albania’s ascent as the fastest-growing tourist destination in Europe, positioning it alongside global heavyweights like Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The allure of the Balkans extends beyond Albania, with Affinity eyeing another venture in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade.

Here, Kushner plans to revitalize a historic area left vacant since the NATO bombing in 1999, envisioning a luxury hotel, commercial spaces, and over 1,500 residences.

A man walks past the building of former federal military headquarters in Belgrade on March 24, 2010, destroyed during the 1999 NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. AFP via Getty Images
A man walks past the building of former federal military headquarters in Belgrade on March 24, 2010, destroyed during the 1999 NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. AFP via Getty Images

And it’s not hard to understand why Kushner would want a piece of that pie.

A New York Times story highlighted Belgrade as the “new cocktail capital of Europe.”

“There is also the historical significance of the building,” Kushner explained. “Transforming it from an eyesore into a landmark that will create jobs and revenue for the city is something exciting to be involved in.”

Kushner’s ventures align with the broader economic transformation of the region.

But it’s not just about the allure of sandy beaches and azure waters.

As Affinity undertakes these bold initiatives, Kushner is aware of their potential to catalyze further development in the region, possibly birthing the next hotbed of tourism and investment.

“It’s not going to be a secret for much longer,” Kushner said.

A rendering of the Belgrade location that is set to be turned into a luxury hotel, commercial spaces and over 1,500 residences. Studio Genesis
A rendering of the Belgrade location that is set to be turned into a luxury hotel, commercial spaces and over 1,500 residences. Studio Genesis
The area has been left vacant since the NATO bombing in 1999. Studio Genesis
The area has been left vacant since the NATO bombing in 1999. Studio Genesis

Still in the early stages of development, it is unknown when these projects are set to be completed.

A draft outline of the agreement provided to The Times revealed that the Serbian government would grant Kushner a 99-year lease at no charge, and access to build a luxury hotel, an apartment complex and a museum at the historic site.

But Kushner’s decision to develop in Belgrade did not exactly come out of nowhere. In 2013, two years before he began running for president, Trump told a top Serbian government official of his vision to build a luxury hotel on the site.

Representatives from the Trump Organization journeyed to Belgrade to assess the site. However, the project failed to materialize before Trump’s election in 2016. After his inauguration, he pledged to abstain from initiating any new international business ventures.

Kushner will develop 3 miles off the coast of Albania. Studio Genesis
Kushner will develop 3 miles off the coast of Albania. Studio Genesis

Following his departure from government, Kushner founded Affinity, a private equity firm that has amassed assets totaling $3.1 billion.

The firm secured substantial backing from Middle Eastern state-backed investors, notably receiving approximately $2 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Though the sprawling investment has raised eyebrows, Kushner defended the funding during a Miami summit sponsored by media company Axios last month saying he followed every law and ethics rule.

“If you ask me about the work that that we did in the White House, for my critics, what I say is point to a single decision we made that wasn’t in the interest of America,” Kushner said.

Additionally, Affinity is exploring opportunities for investment in sectors such as renewable energy, data centers, and artificial intelligence.

Renowned for his pivotal involvement in the Abraham Accords, which facilitated the normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab nations in 2020, Kushner has signaled his intention not to return to a potential Trump administration in the event of the presumptive Republican nominee winning the upcoming presidential election in November.