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British Arab Network Chairman welcomes Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to UK in interviews with international media

10 Mar 2018, by BritishArab Network - In the Media


Dr. Wafik Moustafa, Chairman of the British Arab Network has welcomed the visit of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Abdul Aziz to the United Kingdom, in interviews with international media including Saudi state TV and Abu Dhabi TV.

Dr. Moustafa said:

“I welcome the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed to the UK. We have a long and historic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The UK has close security and economic ties to Saudi Arabia. It is vital to transform the security and defence relationship into one that includes broader economic ties. It is imperative to support the Crown Prince’s internal reforms and Vision 2030 in the Kingdom. I welcome the launch of the annual UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council as a key mechanism for discussing and developing all aspects of the bilateral relationship. I also welcome the mutual trade and investment agreed. I am pleased that both countries confirmed the importance of reaching a political solution to the crisis in Yemen and agreed to continue to work together to address the humanitarian crisis”.

Why Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s UK visit matters

7 March 2018

Mohammed bin Salman is just 32 years old. He is Saudi Arabia’s crown prince – not its head of state – and he has only been in his post for nine months.

Yet when this relative novice on the world stage arrives in London on his first global tour since taking office, he will be granted the reddest of red carpets.

There’ll be lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and dinner with the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge at Clarence House. There will be meetings with the prime minister at Chequers and Downing Street. And garland upon rhetorical garland of praise will be placed at his feet.

MBS – as he is known – will be granted this warm welcome not just because he is the de facto leader of his country. But also because Saudi Arabia has had a long alliance with the UK, a relationship that will take on a different shape after Brexit.

For now, the relationship is based on deep and close security links. Saudi Arabia shares intelligence which the prime minister says has saved British lives on British streets.

The Saudis are keen on UK cyber expertise to help them tackle the threat from Iran. There is also a close defence relationship with Britain selling – controversially – billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, on which ministers insist tens of thousands of British jobs depend.

But this visit will not just be a case of two allies refreshing their relationship

The Crown Prince is looking for international support for his internal economic reforms while at the same time trying to offer reassurance to nervous international investors. And the British government is keen to transform a security and defence relationship into one that includes broader economic ties as well.

The UK certainly supports the reforms that this young leader is introducing at an astonishingly fast rate. He is liberalising what has been for many years a deeply conservative country.

Women are being allowed to drive and go to football matches. Cinemas are being opened. There has been a crackdown on corruption with senior figures detained and forced to put billions back into state coffers.

The Crown Prince has pushed back at the clerics who have held such sway for so many years, making the case for a more liberal vision of Islam. He has begun a process – known as the 2030 Vision – to try to make his country’s economy less dependent on oil and more broad-based and market-orientated.

All this the British government supports, looking for opportunities for British businesses in the provision of education, entertainment, tourism and healthcare – all areas where officials believe the UK has expertise and a comparative advantage. The UK also has an unashamed appetite for inward investment from Saudi Arabia.

In particular, the British are keen to persuade the Saudis to float part of their massive state oil group, Aramco, on the London Stock Exchange.