Hatim Khan – 08.03.2018 The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman landed at London for a three-day visit on Tuesday night. The Prince is on his first official tour since he became the first in line to the throne last June. He was in Egypt earlier this week and is scheduled to go to the United States next.
The Crown Prince was received in a warm reception by United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Posters, billboards and advertisement cars with the face of the Prince along with slogans such as; “Welcome Crown Prince”, “He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia” and “He is opening Saudi Arabia to the world” were seen all across London.
On his very first day at London, the Prince met with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom for lunch at the Buckingham Palace. He is also scheduled to dine with Prince Charles and Prince William, Prime Minister of UK Theresa May as well as Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Over the course of his stay, the Crown Prince will be meeting with UK officials to discuss military cooperation, collaborative counter terrorism efforts, bilateral trade agreements and Saudi Arabia’s vision 2030. We shall also see the launch of UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council through which officials from both countries will work together in bringing about the reforms in private and public sector. Saudi Arabia’s goal to diversify its economy and end its major dependence on Oil would create many opportunities for British firms in various sectors, ranging from technology, education, entertainment and health. It is estimated that the bilateral agreements the two countries will agree to will be worth $100bn over the span of 10 years.
The visit of the Saudi Crown prince has also brought with it protests and criticism from the opposition Labour party and various human rights groups. The protesters and critics are against the Saudi war in Yemen. They argue that even though the British exports to Saudi Arabia have drastically increased since 2010 by 41% to £6.2bn, most of it is due to the exports of weapons being used in Yemen and have resulted in human rights violations as reported by Amnesty International. The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia responded to the protests by saying that the “protesters do not understand the war” going on in Yemen which is a “just” war and in accordance with international law. He further added that the war is imposed upon Saudi Arabia by the rebels in Yemen, the Houthis and they are the ones that need to be protested against. Prime Minister May’s spokesperson said that the Prime Minister shall raise this issue in the talks with the Crown Prince.