RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy premier and defense minister, will embark on a landmark visit to London on Wednesday.
The visit will focus on defense, security and economic ties. The two sides will also review key bilateral and regional issues.
The crown prince “will hold wide-ranging talks with top British officials including Prime Minister Theresa May,” the UK government said in a statement.
British Ambassador Simon Collis told Arab News on Sunday: “The relationship between our two countries is historic and forward-looking, and the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed will establish the platform for this relationship to become even stronger.”
The partnership “helps make both of our countries safer through intelligence sharing, and more prosperous with substantial opportunities for two-way trade,” Collis said.
“This will be the crown prince’s first visit to the UK since his appointment in June 2017, and since the Vision 2030 program of economic and social reforms that provide opportunities for British businesses to help support delivery in areas such as education, entertainment and health care.”
Shoura Council member Mohammed Al-Khunaizi said: “The UK is a major defense partner of the Kingdom. This cooperation, especially in the fields of security and intelligence sharing, makes both countries safer.”
He added: “The visit of Crown Prince Mohammed will be an opportunity to hold consultations candidly and constructively on bilateral and regional issues.”
Al-Khunaizi said: “Britain, a member of the UN Security Council, has been a dependable supplier of arms and defense equipment to Gulf states.”
He spoke of growing relations between Saudi Arabia and the UK regarding education and parliamentary cooperation.
“A British parliamentary delegation led by Leo Docherty, a Conservative MP, visited the Kingdom in September last year and discussed ways to enhance parliamentary cooperation,” Al-Khunaizi said.
Shoura member Hoda Abdulrahman Al-Helaissi said the crown prince’s three-day trip to London “is significant as Saudi-British relations have always been cordial.”
She added: “From holidaying to seeking medical services or trade opportunities, and more importantly benefiting from a first-class education, Britain has always been one of the top destinations for Saudis.”
Dr. Maha Al-Moneef, a consultant at the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said the visit will “promote further cooperation in numerous fields, contributing to human development, and achieving progress and prosperity for the Saudi people.”
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qayid, a founding member of the National Society of Human Rights (NSHR), said Vision 2030 “will get a major boost” from the visit, which will add “more defense, security and commercial content to Saudi-British relations.”
Businessman Sadaka Al-Hamdan said: “The Kingdom is the largest trading partner of Britain in the Middle East.”
He added: “Saudi Arabia is a high growth market that offers plenty of opportunities for British companies in different sectors.”
The UK is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest cumulative investor, with about 200 joint ventures worth an estimated $15 billion in total.