UK invites Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for official visit

Picture source - Reuters
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The UK government has extended an invitation to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit London to strengthen its relationship with the monarchy and entice investment from the oil-rich Gulf.

According to those informed on the trip, the visit is anticipated to take place in October or November. It will be the latest indication that Western governments are bringing Prince Mohammed back into the fold five years after Saudi operatives murdered writer Jamal Khashoggi. The itinerary is still being decided.

The UK government has sent an invitation to the crown prince, a British official said, but the specific details were still being worked out.

Despite worries about the kingdom’s human rights record, the UK has worked to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia during the past few years as it turns to the Gulf for investment in the aftermath of Brexit.

When asked what would decide the date of the visit, a UK government official responded, “It’s more up to them, given that we need them more than they need us.”

Since Khashoggi’s death, various British politicians have been to the country, including the former prime minister Boris Johnson, who met with Prince Mohammed in Riyadh last year.

To work out a free trade deal with the regional group that consists of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain, the UK has also engaged in several rounds of discussions.

Two years ago, the UAE and Qatar promised to invest $10 billion in the UK through sovereign investment funds, focusing on industries including technology and life sciences, while Bahrain committed to investing $1 billion this month.

In 2021, a group led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) purchased the football team Newcastle United, and the $650 billion sovereign wealth fund built an office in London the previous year.

The second-largest ethylene “cracker” in Europe, Olefins 6 is located in Teesside and is home to the Saudi petrochemicals company Sabic.

However, unlike other Gulf governments, Saudi Arabia, the top oil exporter in the world, has not yet pledged to invest a specific sum in the UK.