LONDON: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman landed in the UK Tuesday on a landmark trip with a broad agenda spanning business, defense and political ties.
During the three-day visit, Crown Prince Mohammed is expected to meet Prime Minister Theresa May, the Queen (full gallery here) and other members of the British royal family.
His arrival in Britain has been highly anticipated, with extensive media coverage of relations between the two countries in the build-up.
Billboards highlighting the visit have been erected in parts of London and along major highways into the capital.
One shows the flags of the two countries with “United Kingdoms” written across the top. Another shows Crown Prince Mohammed with the slogan “He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia.”
Crown Prince Mohammed said the two countries enjoyed historic ties that dated back more than 100 years to the foundation of the Kingdom.
“We have a common interest that goes back to the earliest days of the relationship,” he said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph newspaper published yesterday. “Our relationship with Britain today is super,” he said.
Events scheduled for the visit include a forum on business partnerships between the two countries and a discussion meeting at Chatham House.
Business relations are expected to be a key feature of the visit.
Saudi Arabia is the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East with the flow of goods and services between the two countries in 2016 worth more than £8 billion, according to the Financial Times.
Britain could be a major beneficiary of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic plan to diversify the economy away from oil, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said.
“After Brexit, there will be huge opportunities for Britain as a result of Vision 2030,” he told the BBC.
The British prime minister has welcomed the visit as a chance to strengthen relations.
“The partnership between the UK and Saudi Arabia already helps make both our countries safer through intelligence-sharing which has saved British lives, and more prosperous, with thousands of jobs created in the UK and substantial opportunities for British companies in Saudi Arabia,” the PM’s office said.