Washington, D.C.— The leader of Saudi Arabia, 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, widely known as MBS, is currently on a public relations blitz of the United States — and a leaked copy of his itinerary has revealed he will be meeting with the most influential power brokers in American society.
The leaked 36-page document, revealed by The Independent in an exclusive report, detailed the list of powerful individuals MBS has met or is expected to meet with:
On Tuesday alone in New York City, the prince is believed to have met with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, ex-president Bill and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, New York state senator Chuck Schumer, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and businessman and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Other notable media meetings include dinner with The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, Rupert Murdoch, the head of The Atlantic’s editorial board Jeffrey Goldberg, meetings with the editorial boards of The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as interviews with Time and Vanity Fair.
Current government officials on MBS’s schedule include CIA director (and nominee for new US secretary of state) Mike Pompeo, vice president Mike Pence, senior advisor and unofficial Middle East envoy Jared Kushner, national security adviser HR McMaster and defence secretary James Mattis…
He is also meeting past luminaries such as Barack Obama, John Kerry, Gen David Petraeus and Condoleezza Rice, as well as paying a visit to George W Bush’s Texas ranch.
Other notable meets outside of politics include Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook of Apple and the CEOs of Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Uber, the Walt Disney Company and Lockheed Martin.
A major impetus for the “charm offensive” by MBS is to prime the US market for the initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi state oil company Aramco, which experts predict will have a valuation in the range of $1 trillion to $2 trillion dollars. The sale of a 5 percent stake in the company could take place at the end of 2018 or early 2019, depending on market conditions, Prince Mohammed told Reuters in an interview.
Last week MBS took part in the first televised interview with the leader of Saudi Arabia in more than a decade with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell on 60 Minutes. During the interview the Saudi monarch worked to portray himself as a reformer, while noting a distinct difference between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in understanding human rights “standards.”
“Saudi Arabia believes in many of the principles of human rights. In fact, we believe in the notion of human rights, but ultimately Saudi standards are not the same as American standards,” MBS said. “I don’t want to say that we don’t have shortcomings. We certainly do. But naturally, we are working to mend these shortcomings.”
In highlighting these “shortcomings,” The Independent reports:
The Saudi government ordered the mass arrest and detention at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton of more than 300 princes and business leaders in November last year. The move was touted as as a way to recover billions in lost revenue – but the heavy-handed tactics and reports in TheNew York Times of detainee abuse spooked markets. The Saudi government said the accusations of abuse were “absolutely untrue”, but shares in several Saudi-owned enterprises plummeted and have only just begun to recover.
“Saudi Arabia has always had a public image problem in the West because of the obvious things like women’s rights and beheadings,” Nader Hashemi, director of the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, told The Independent.
“Ultimately, this trip is to demonstrate he has international legitimacy and support. What this itinerary shows is the immense depth and intimacy of the US-Saudi relationship, going back decades,” Hashemi said.