Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince arrives in Washington D.C. this week, kicking off a multi-city trip through the United States to shore up U.S.-Saudi ties and seek investment opportunities as the kingdom overhauls its oil-dependent economy.
The trip is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first since replacing his cousin as Saudi Arabia’s king in waiting last year. It also follows his controversial arrest of hundreds of wealthy Saudis, including princes, officials and businessmen in November.
The trip will be a crucial test of the 32-year-old Salman’s ability to justify to wary investors the harsh tactics that have accompanied his social and economic reform efforts. It also lays the groundwork for a U.S. visit later this year by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi embassy in Washington DC said on Sunday.
The Saudi government has released few details about the trip. It typically keeps the schedules of high-ranking officials like Crown Prince Salman opaque for security purposes.
On Sunday, the embassy confirmed what had been widely reported: The prince plans to travel first to Washington DC and then on to New York City, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
The embassy is holding a press briefing at 11 a.m. ET on Monday, but here’s what we know about the trip now.
Defense and U.S.-Saudi ties
On Tuesday, Salman is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump, the White House said last week.
The first leg of Salman’s trip in the nation’s capital is expected to focus on defense ties. Under Salman, who also serves as Minister of Defense, Saudi Arabia has adopted a more muscular foreign policy, launching a polarizing war in neighboring Yemen that has dragged on for three years and isolating the tiny monarchy of Qatar.
Salman has also dialed up the rhetoric against regional rival Iran. In an interview on “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, he said the kingdom would work quickly to obtain a nuclear bomb if Iran developed one.