He is an Iranian-American diplomat, businessman, and philanthropist with a net worth of over $2 billion. He has vast interests in oilfield services and exploration companies like National Oilwell Varco.
He is a close friend of trust director for the Bush family.
He served for eighteen years in the Iranian government prior to the Iranian Revolution and has also been chairman or director of companies both in Iran and in the United States.
Born in Ahvaz, in Iran's Khuzestan Province, Ansary first worked as a newspaper and magazine photographer in Ahvaz, Tehran, and England before moving to Japan in 1954. There he met Abbas Aram, Iran's ambassador to Japan, who soon brought him to the attention of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Shah asked Ansary to return to Iran and appointed him to several government positions starting in 1961, including Undersecretary of Commerce, ambassador to many African nations and to Pakistan, and Minister of Information.
In 1964 he married Maryam Panahi, a friend of ambassador Aram who had many high-ranking acquaintances in the governments of the United States and Iran. He served as Ambassador to the United States and then as Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance. His accomplishments during this time included assisting the Shah in lending millions of dollars in aid and grants to other countries and the signing of an agreement with U.S. State Secretary Henry Kissinger to build eight nuclear power plants in Iran.
By the 1970s, the CIA considered Ansary to be one of seventeen members of "the Shah's Inner Circle" and he was one of the Shah's top two choices to succeed Amir Abbas Hoveyda as Prime Minister. Ultimately, this appointment went to Jamshid Amouzegar, and Ansary became the leader of the Constructionist wing of the Rastakhiz party, which opposed Amouzegar's Progressive wing.
In November 1977 Ansary became the director of the National Iranian Oil Company, but resigned one year later and moved to the United States, citing health problems.