Saudi Arabia's millennial crown prince got a rare tour inside Apple's new $5 billion campus

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been visiting with Silicon Valley leaders and top tech executives during his US tour.
  • He met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the venture capitalists Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel, and other key players in the technology industry.
  • He even got an extremely rare tour inside the $US5 billion Apple Park campus, including face time with Cook and other executives.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the driving force behind changing policies in Saudi Arabia, spent the past week touring the US and meeting important American officials, celebrities, and business executives.

In 2018, any whistle-stop tour of the seats of American power means taking time to meet the major players of Silicon Valley.

The young prince, often referred to as MBS, was on a charm offensive, according to The New York Times. His goal was to change the Western perspective of Saudi Arabia as a conservative country dependent on oil money where women are treated as second-class people. Instead, Prince Mohammed wants Americans to see Saudi Arabia as a modern country with extensive investments in growth markets like technology.

All of which explains why the crown prince dropped by Silicon Valley late last week to meet with the CEOs of Apple and Google. (His US tour also involved a stop in Seattle, where he met with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, according to The Times.)

He even got to see the inside of Apple’s new $US5 billion campus, Apple Park, which Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this year said wouldn’t be allowing tours for Apple fans because there was “so much confidential stuff around.”

While at Apple, he discussed developing applications in Saudi Arabia and new Arabic-language educational content, according to a Saudi press release. He also got to discuss education, health, and marketing, culminating in a presentation at the Steve Jobs Theatre, where he received a presentation on Apple’s “modern voice applications,” according to the Saudi Press Agency.

At Google, the prince met with the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as well as CEO Sundar Pichai, according to the Saudi Press Agency. He was briefed about Google’s “electronic cloud, artificial intelligence, and automatics learning,” according to the press release. They discussed ways to cooperate on cybersecurity.

The prince also took some time to sit down with some of technology’s top investors, including Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Sam Altman, and Vinod Khosla.

While no major initiatives were announced with Apple (Google landed a cloud-computing contract, according to Bloomberg), the Saudi delegation got a lot of great photographs of the prince hanging out with some of the most successful US technology entrepreneurs.

Take a look:


The prince’s Silicon Valley trip started with a visit to Google headquarters, where he met the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Only Brin, left, is in this photo, though.


Google CEO Sundar Pichai also said hi.


Prince Mohammed also took the time to meet other Googlers, including Hiroshi Lockheimer, the head of Google’s Android and Chrome divisions.

The prince also got a ride in one of Waymo’s driverless minivans,Bloomberg reported.


Then the crown prince met with some high-profile investors. Here he’s speaking with Peter Thiel, who was Facebook’s first big investor. Thiel now sits on the board of the data-analytics company Palantir.


Prince Mohammed also met with other venture capitalists including Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, Sam Altman of Y Combinator, and Alex Karp of Palantir. The Andreessen Horowitz cofounder Marc Andreessen was also there, according to a tweet from the Saudi Embassy.

Saudi Embassy

According to the Saudi Embassy, they were discussing “potential partnerships.”


Then it was off to Apple.


The circular design of Apple Park gives the world leaders a great place to walk and talk.


Maybe Tim Cook is pointing out the 37 varieties of fruit trees planted at Apple’s new campus.


At times during the tour, Cook looked nonplussed.


But he’s in a better mood in this picture.


The Saudi delegation had a formal meeting with Apple officials, a group that included the chief operating officer Jeff Williams and two of the women on Apple’s executive team. They were Lisa Jackson, the vice president of the company’s environmental policies, and the retail senior vice president Angela Ahrendts.


The delegation photographer took this rare spy shot inside Apple Park.


The crown prince may own the world’s most expensive house, which cost $US300 million, but Apple Park cost $US5 billion, and the views from the fourth floor are stunning.

Source: New York Times.

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