Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is currently on a multi-week tour across the US – and he’s meeting with everyone from President Donald Trump to Oprah.
Starting with Trump, MbS, as he is known, has since gone on to meet other important politicians in Washington, including influential members of Congress and a number of Trump Cabinet officials.
But the crown prince isn’t just meeting with politicians. The Independent reported that a leaked copy of his itinerary revealed meetings with journalists, media moguls, academics, and some of the biggest players in the world’s economy.
Here are some of the biggest names MbS is meeting during his charm offensive:
Trump has now met with MbS multiple times, both in the US and Saudi Arabia. He has emerged as a strong supporter of the young crown prince, as well as his father, King Salman.
The president brought several charts with him when he met with MbS at the White House that showed the type of weapons, vehicles, and equipment being bought by Saudi Arabia. The deals are worth tens of billions of dollars.
Nader Hashemi, the director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Kor bel School of International Studies, told The Independent that MbS’ meeting with Oprah may help create a better PR image for Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi Arabia has always had a public image problem in the West because of the obvious things like women’s rights and beheadings,” Hashemi said.
“When you meet with Oprah, even if you’re not going to be interviewed, you’re seeking the approval of an opinion maker. You’re going into people’s homes and reaching deep into American culture.”
Bill Clinton was the 42nd president of the United States. During his tenure, he visited Saudi Arabia in 1994 and met with King Fahd, who was the brother of the current king, King Salman.
Clinton’s tenure was marked with a number of important events in the Middle East, like the 2000 Camp David Summit, between Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, as well as the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and 1995.
Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis was known for being a hawk toward Iran when he served as a general in the Marine Corps. Though he has argued in favour of keeping the Iran deal intact, he is still wary of Saudi Arabia’s Middle East rival.
MbS also serves as Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defence, and has made confronting Iran a top priority for Saudi Arabia. A meeting with his US counterpart is a no-brainer.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
While in Los Angeles, MbS met with one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The crown prince met Johnson at Rupert Murdoch’s house. Following the meeting, Johnson praised MbS in a bizarre Instagram post.
Stephen Schwarzman is the chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group, a global private equity firm. He is ranked 117th on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires List, and was the chairman of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum before it was disbanded in August 2017.
Blackstone unveiled a $US40 billion infrastructure fund with Saudi Arabia in May 2017 that will “primarily invest in the United States.” Saudi funding will account for half of the fund, at $US20 billion.
During this trip, Schwarzman organised an event in New York City where MbS met with 40 US executives.
— SPAENG (@Spa_Eng) March 29, 2018
John Kerry was the Secretary of State under former President Barack Obama. During his time at the State Department, he was involved with talks between the US and Saudi Arabia, mostly about countering Iran and the civil war in Yemen.
The Crown Prince met with Kerry on Thursday, in a meeting described as “friendly.”
Henry Kissinger is one of America’s longest-serving diplomats.
The former secretary of state and national security advisor is known for his role in ending the Vietnam War and his pioneering of the détente policy towards the Soviet Union, as well as helping open relation with the People’s Republic of China.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince meets with Secretary General of United Nations; they attend signing of agreement for Joint Executive Program between Kingdom and UN to support and fund UN Humanitarian Response Plan in Yemen for2018 in the amount of one billion dollars.#SPAGOV pic.twitter.com/sHD5g8un9R
— SPAENG (@Spa_Eng) March 28, 2018
Antonio Guterres is the Secretary General of the United Nations. The UN has repeatedly accused the Kingdom of not doing enough to prevent civilian casualties in the Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading an air coalition against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
— Jewish Insider (@J_Insider) March 28, 2018
Michael Bloomberg is the founder, owner, and CEO of Bloomberg LP, as well as the former mayor of New York.
With a net worth of slightly over $US50 billion, Bloomberg is the 7th richest person in the US, and 10th richest in the world.
MbS, Bloomberg, and Joshua Steiner, the head of industry verticals at Bloomberg LP, were recently seen in a Starbucks in New York City.
Thomas Friedman is a three time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who writes for the New York Times. He is the foreign affairs columnist for the Times, and often writes about the Middle East.
Friedman wrote a glowing profile of MbS for the Times in November 2017, describing the Saudi crown prince as “a young leader who is driving religious and economic reform, who talks the language of high tech, and whose biggest sin may be that he wants to go too fast.”
MbS and Friedman are reportedly supposed to have dinner together at some point during his trip.
Arguably the most well known businessman in the world, Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft, one of the drivers of the personal computer revolution, and the second richest person in the world.
Bill Gates met MbS in Riyadh in November 2017 to discuss “aspects of cooperation” and “joint bilateral development programs and projects.”
Ernest Moniz was the former secretary of energy under Obama, and also served in the department during Bill Clinton’s administration.
He is a nuclear physicist and is currently the CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organisation that works to prevent attacks and accidents with weapons of mass destruction. Moniz met with MbS at the event Schwarzman organised.
The Crown Prince is always impressive when he sets out his vision for the KSA. Can't remember WHEN my beard turned white, but I remember WHY. MBS is much younger and I'm sure handles stress better! pic.twitter.com/zyu3ftGi6a
— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) March 28, 2018
Lloyd Blankfein is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Goldman Sachs. He recently posted on his twitter account that he met MbS in New York City.
Goldman Sachs recently announced that it would invest its own money in the kingdom for the first time. Wassim Younan, the CEO of Goldman Sachs Middle East and North Africa, even likened Saudi Arabia to China in terms of its “economic and social transformation.”
Masayoshi Son is a Japanese businessman who serves as the CEO of Softbank, as well as the chairman of Sprint and Arm Holdings.
Softbank announced a $US200 billion plan this week to create the worlds largest solar power plant in Saudi Arabia. The plant is expected to generate up to 200 gigawatts of energy by 2030.
— SPAENG (@Spa_Eng) March 24, 2018
Madeleine Albright was the secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, and was the first woman to ever hold the position.
She is known for her role in shaping American policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav Wars, as well as the Middle East. She also notably met with former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il when he was in power.
Rupert Murdoch is an Australian-born American media mogul, and founder and CEO of News Corporation. He is also the Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox.
Like Thomas Friedman, Murdoch is expected to have dinner with the crown prince sometime during his trip.
Jeffrey Goldberg is the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic and is known for his reporting on foreign affairs, particularly the Middle East.
Like Friedman and Murdoch, he is expected to have dinner with the crown prince sometime during his visit.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is head of the world’s largest information technology company, and the world’s second-largest mobile phone manufacturer.
It was reported last December that Apple, along with other giants like Amazon, were in the process of negotiating with Saudi authorities for licenses that would allow them to set up offices inside the kingdom.
Attracting tech companies is a big part of MbS’ economic reforms.
Elon Musk is the business magnate and CEO of companies like SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink.
Much of Musk’s work is based on creating products and projects that benefit humanity as a whole, such as reusable rockets, electric cars and storage units, and implantable brain-computer interfaces.
Christine Lagarde is the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. MbS has made transitioning Saudi Arabia’s economy from being dependent on oil exports a top priority.
The crown prince’s meeting with Lagarde was focused on the Saudi Economy and its ambitious reforms.
Peter Thiel is an American businessman who specialises in venture capital and technology. He is currently president of Clarium Capital, as well as chairman of Palantir, Valar Ventures, and Mithril Capital.
Thiel and many other business leaders from Wall Street and Silicon Valley went to Saudi Arabia in October 2017 for an event that the New York Times reported as “Davos in the Desert,” an event organised by the crown prince.
HRH #Crown_Prince #Mohammed_bin_Salman reviews with #Harvard University aspects of cooperation in the fields of entrepreneurship, systems engineering and development of education methods.#CrownPrinceinBoston#SPAGOV pic.twitter.com/HBcowuSnsU
— SPAENG (@Spa_Eng) March 25, 2018
Alan Garber is the provost of Harvard University, the university’s chief academic officer. The crown prince met with him an other high-ranking individuals from America’s top colleges and universities.
The purpose of the meetings was “to discuss cooperation fields between the Kingdom and the educational institutions,” and to discuss things like “fields of entrepreneurship, systems engineering and development of education methods.”
Sir Richard Branson is an English businessman who founded the Virgin Group, a massive business conglomerate that controls roughly 400 companies. The crown prince visited a hanger with some of Virgin Galactic’s commercial spacecraft.
The Virgin group is a large part of the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 Plan. Last October, Saudi Arabia announced a $US1.7 billion investment in Virgin Galactic.
Bob Iger is the chairman and CEO of of the Walt Disney Company. The crown prince met with Iger while in Los Angeles.
Their meeting was to discuss the future of the entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia, which recently lifted a ban on public movie theatres.
Satya Nadella is the current CEO of the Microsoft Corporation.
Microsoft has offices in Saudi Arabia, and is part of a list of companies that the crown prince is trying encourage to invest more in Saudi Arabia to increase its tech market.
Jeff Bezos is not only the richest man in America, but the richest man in the world. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Amazon, the world’s largest online shopping retailer.
Bezos also owns and runs Bezos Expeditions, his venture capital fund, and The Washington Post. The two met“to discuss areas of cooperation in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”
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