You know the saying: Business and pleasure don’t mix but business and politics sure do, and none more so than on this 2nd US visit by now Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The trip begins with a meeting at the White House with US president Donald Trump on Tuesday, a major hurdle that if bypassed, will pave the way for major business deals.
What does the schedule look like ahead of this much anticipated trip?
The alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia turns 75 this year, according to the Brookings Institute.
“During three quarters of a century, the two countries have partnered, with sometimes, Washington and Riyadh working closely together as friends, and other times estranged, working for opposite goals,” said Brookings.
According to Bloomberg, Trump has moved to strengthen U.S. ties with the kingdom since taking office in January 2017.
“Saudi Arabia was the first foreign country Trump visited after taking office, traveling to the kingdom in May and signing memorandums and agreements for defense spending that totaled about $110 billion,” said Bloomberg.
“But U.S. relations also have been strained at times over a continuing dispute between a Saudi-led bloc and Qatar, a key (US) ally in the Middle East.
NBC news said recently that Trump “looks forward to discussing ways to strengthen ties between the US and Saudi to advance common security and economic priorities.”
Al Arabiya English quoted the Saudi Crown Prince as saying to “CBS This Morning” in the run up to his US meeting with Trump that Saudi “is the oldest ally to the US in the Middle East before any other country.”
Forbes said today that the two leaders are likely to discuss the possible reinstatement of sanctions against Iran; Saudi’s years long war in Yemen and Saudi’s desire to purchase one or more nuclear power plants and the role the U.S. plays in agreeing to allow a firm like GE to do the work.
“Other issues that may come up would include the disagreement between Qatar on one hand and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt on the other as well as the U.S. decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” said Forbes.
Bloomberg said Saudi’s Crown Prince plans to meet top global executives, including the heads of Apple Inc. and Google, according to a person briefed on the trip’s details.
“The prince also will hold meetings with top movie industry executives in Los Angeles,” the person said.
“The crown prince will use the trip to promote investment opportunities in the biggest Arab economy,” the person added, “seeking to dispel concerns about a declared crackdown on corruption that saw over 200 Saudi royals, billionaires and officials detained for three months at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.
Bloomberg said the U.S. trip follows the crown prince’s three-day state visit to the U.K., where the two nations signed deals worth $91 billion in mutual trade and investment in the coming years, following Brexit.
In addition to the Trump meeting, Forbes revealed a more detailed agenda of Saudi crown prince’s US trip.
a-Uber: It is reported that the crown prince will visit Uber along with other Silicon Valley firms. Uber is aggressively recruiting female drivers in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Public Investment Fund (“PIF”) is already a major investor in Uber ($3.5 billion) and the managing director of the fund Yasir Al Rumayyan sits on the board of Uber.
b-Film Industry: It is also reported that the crown prince will meet with executives from the film industry in Los Angeles in an attempt to encourage the film business in Saudi Arabia. The crown prince may seek movie production in Saudi Arabia after the PIF also recently invested $400 million or 10% of Endeavour PLC, the Los Angeles talent agency.
c-Oil Services Companies: It is reported that the crown prince will be traveling to Houston, Texas, capital of the U.S. oil industry hoping to attract more business to the kingdom from major oil services companies like Baker Hughes and Halliburton . The American-based subsidiary of Aramco called Aramco Services Company, is also located in Houston.
d-Amazon: It has also been reported that Amazon is in talks to open a data center for Amazon Web Services in Saudi.
e-GE: It is reported that the crown prince will visit Harvard and MIT during his visit to Boston, however, he may also meet with executives from General Electric. Saudi Arabia is looking to develop nuclear power plants in the kingdom and energy minister Khalid al-Falih met with the CEO of GE, John Flannery, just last week.
f-NYSE: It is rumored and expected that the crown prince will meet with the New York Stock Exchange as part of potential plansto partially list Aramco’s IPO there. The NYSE is the world’s largest exchange, by far, with access to the most investor capital. The hurdle there is a pending lawsuit against Saudi from the victims of 9/11.