Robert Jordan

Diplomat-in-Residence, SMU Tower Center



J.D., University of Oklahoma College of Law; M.A., Government and Politics, University of Maryland; A.B., Political Science, Duke University

Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert W. Jordan is Diplomat in Residence and adjunct professor of political science in the John G. Tower for Public Policy and International Affairs at Southern Methodist University. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001-2003.  He took charge of his mission in the wake of the attacks of September 11 at a critical time in the U.S.-Saudi relations. He worked closely with President George W. Bush and senior government officials in maintaining the relationship with Saudi Arabia, combating terrorism, and promoting economic reform and human rights in the Kingdom. He spearheaded American encouragement of the Saudi economic reforms necessary to qualify for accession to the World Trade Organization. He was partner in the international law firm Baker Botts L.L. P. for many years and headed the firm's Middle East practice based in Dubai until his retirement in 2014.

He is Vice Chair of the SMU Tower Center Board of Directors. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a past president of the Dallas Bar Association and the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Bilateral U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce and is a frequent commentator with international media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, Bloomberg and the New York Times. His memoir, Desert Diplomat: Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11, was published by Potomac Books in 2015.



  • Recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer,  2006 - 2010
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, 2006 - 2010
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal: Texas, 2008

University of Oklahoma College of Law

  • Editor in Chief, Oklahoma Law Review
  • Order of Barristers
  • Jessup International Law Moot Court Team
  • Phi Delta Phi


  • “It is the Legacy of Peacemakers that will be Remembered,” The National, May 3, 2011
  • Saudi Arabia: An Opportunity - New Ways of Doing Business, Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), March 2006 (Stephen Matthews and Nabil Issa, co-authors)
  • “Multilateralism and American Policy: A Diplomat’s View,” Multilateralism v. Unilateralism: Policy Choices in a Global Society, British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, 2004 (John B. Attanasio and Joseph J. Norton, eds.)

Speeches and Presentations

  • “Ethical Dilemmas in War,” Schlinger Symposium, Dallas, Texas, December 2009
  •  “Arabs and Israelis Struggle for Common Ground,” Wellesley College, October 2009
  • “Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East: Emerging Trends in the Region,” American Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong, November 2008
  • “Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East,” Association for Conflict Resolution, Austin, Texas, September 2008
  • “Geopolitical Realities in the New World,” Natural Gas Partners 2005 Strategy Seminar, Santa Fe, July 2005