Saudi crown prince mulls meetings with Apple, Google

by BLOOMBERG

DUBAISaudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Salman plans to meet top global executives, including the heads of Apple Inc and Google LLC, during his first trip to the US since becoming heir to the throne of the world’s largest oil exporter, according to a person briefed on the trip’s details.

Prince Mohammed, known among journalists and diplomats as MBS, will hold talks with US President Donald Trump and senior administration officials this week in Washington. His itinerary also may include stops in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, the person said on condition of anonymity because the plans aren’t final.

The prince also will hold meetings with top movie industry executives in Los Angeles, the person said, as his government presses ahead with a plan to allow commercial cinemas in the conservative kingdom for the first time in more than 35 years.

A Saudi embassy spokesman in Washington declined to confirm the itinerary and said official details will be released later. Officials at Apple and Google parent Alphabet Inc declined to comment.

The crown prince will use the trip to promote investment opportunities in the biggest Arab economy, the person said, seeking to dispel concerns about a declared crackdown on corruption that saw dozens of Saudi royals, billionaires and officials detained for three months at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. Among those held was Prince Alwaleed Talal, a billionaire with holdings in US companies including Citigroup Inc.

Detainee Settlements

Authorities said the majority of detainees were released in exchange for settlements that exceeded US$100 billion(RM400 billion).

The US trip follows the crown prince’s three-day state visit to the UK, where the two nations signed deals aimed at helping them reach a goal of £65 billion (RM354.25 billion) of mutual trade and investment in the coming years. Included in the agreements was a memorandum of intent by Saudi Arabia to BAE Systems plc’s Eurofighter, reviving prospects for a long-delayed purchase of 48 jets. The deal could be valued at more than £8 billion before discounts.

Trump has moved to strengthen US ties with the kingdom since taking office in January 2017, and his son-inlaw, Jared Kushner, has cultivated a relationship with the crown prince. Saudi Arabia was the first foreign country Trump visited after taking office, travelling to the kingdom in May and signing memorandums and agreements for defense spending that totaled about US$110 billion.

But US relations also have been strained at times over a continuing dispute between a Saudi-led bloc and Qatar, a key ally in the Middle East that hosts a US air base used in the war against Islamic State. — Bloomberg