The over $100bn deal: Defense, tech, trade on Saudi crown prince UK agenda
On Wednesday, and following a business visit to Egypt, Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman will be in the UK, arriving there with an aggressive agenda.
It will be a PR and business campaign led by arguably the Middle East’s most powerful person.
What’s on the agenda?
According to the Financial Times, Saudi and the UK will sign a series of agreements in deals that diplomats said could be worth more than $100bn.
Foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said Monday that the trip was aimed at taking the Saudi-UK relationship to a “higher level”, with both countries seeking co-operation in sectors such as education and technology as well as security.
The crown prince is due to meet prime minister Theresa May and a number of business leaders, senior parliament and security officials and members of the royal family.
The Saudi Aramco IPO is also expected to come up in discussions, said FT quoting UK officials, with the London Stock Exchange competing with New York and Hong Kong for a potential overseas listing by the company.
In an interview with SKY news,
Foreign minister Adel al Jubeir told Sky News Britain can expect an even stronger relationship with Saudi Arabia after Brexit, the country’s foreign minister has told Sky News.
“We’re bullish about Britain” he told Sky News.
Sky news said that the package of initiatives Saudi and Britain hope to reach deals over amounts to many billions of pounds.
“In return, the crown prince wants support for his program of sweeping social and economic reforms,” said Sky News.
We’re changing internally and fighting terror externally: Crown Prince
In an exclusive Riyadh interview with the Telegraph daily, the crown prince said he hoped British businesses would be able to benefit from the profound changes taking place in his country after the Brexit negotiations have been completed.
“We believe that Saudi Arabia needs to be part of the global economy,” he explained.
“People need to be able to move freely, and we need to apply the same standards as the rest of the world.
The crown prince added that post-Brexit, large opportunities await Britain as a result of Saudi Vision 2030.
The telegraph said that among the idea of catering to the kingdom’s young, around 70% of the country’s 30 million population and anxious for change were a number of reforms including freedom to women, entertainment and moderate Islam.
“People in Saudi Arabia have changed a lot because they travel to countries like Britain and see a different way of life,” he explained.
“The British and Saudi people, along with the rest of the world, will be much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Crown Prince Mohammed believes that, by promoting a more moderate Islamic outlook in his own country, Saudi Arabia can play a prominent role in defeating Islamist-inspired extremism.
“The extremists and the terrorists are linked through spreading their agenda. We need to work together to promote moderate Islam.”
In that regard, and on defense related issues, the daily said that Saudi officials say no decision will be announced during Crown Prince Mohammed’s visit this week.
The daily said the crown prince is due to have private meetings with the heads of MI5 and MI6, as well as being invited to attend a meeting of the National Security Council – a rare privilege for a visiting foreign dignitary.
“The crown prince believes continued close cooperation between Riyadh and Western intelligence agencies, such as the CIA and MI6, are vital to winning this battle, as the Saudis are able to provide the raw material, while Western intelligence experts have the skills to analyse it,” it said.
“We want to fight terrorism, and we want to fight extremism because we need to build stability in the Middle East,” the Crown prince said.
Finally, The crown prince concedes, though, that his country needs to do more to improve its human rights record, but asks critics to be patient. “We do not have the best human rights record in the world,” he said, “but we are getting better, and we have come a long way in a short time.”